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The end of 2021 marked three years since the adoption of the United Nations Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), an international non-legally binding framework for ‘predictable and equitable responsibility sharing’ to refugee situations, and two years since the first Global Refugee Forum, which brought together a diverse range of actors who collectively committed to contribute to better protection outcomes for refugees around the world through concrete pledges. The first Global Refugee Forum (GRF), convened in December 2019, in many ways presented a breakthrough in international refugee protection in terms of the strong political commitment of both states and nonstate actors to a common agenda to increase refugee protection, self-reliance, responsibility sharing and solidarity with both refugees and refugee-hosting nations and local communities.

A first stocktaking event, the High-Level Officials Meeting (HLOM), was held in December 2021 to assess progress and maintain momentum towards the achievement of the objectives of the Compact. In the face of new and re-emerging humanitarian crises, including the large-scale displacement caused by the war in Ukraine and return of the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and its broader implications, as well as a clear trend towards more protracted displacement situations, the urgency of translating Global Compact on Refugees political commitments into action has not diminished. At the same time, however, low- and middle-income countries continue to shoulder most of the responsibility, hosting more than 83% of the world’s refugees, and lack of political will and leadership remains an impediment for the achievement of more equitable global responsibility sharing system.

In some high-income countries, such as Australia, and some European States, recent years have seen hardening of positions and negative rhetoric towards refugees and asylum seekers, and an acceleration of attempts to contain and deter refugee movements and to shift protection responsibility to other countries. Yet, despite this trend, the Global Compact on Refugees is curiously quiet on the centrality of access to territory and to asylum to the upholding of the refugee system.

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