Statement by Asylum Access on the Zero Draft of the Global Compact on Refugees

February 1, 2018

Media contact: Brian Rawson, Asylum Access, Mobile: 617 283 8709

Oakland, CA – Responding to the Zero Draft of the Global Compact on Refugees, released yesterday by UNHCR, Asylum Access Executive Director Emily Arnold-Fernandez states:

“With forced displacement at a historic high, we need a Global Compact on Refugees that places refugees at the center of solutions, endowing them with the rights and options necessary to rebuild their lives in first countries of refuge. The zero draft endorses extremely important principles of refugee participation and improvement to national policy frameworks governing refugees, but remains virtually silent on refugees’ human rights and access to justice.

“We applaud references to refugees accessing jobs and livelihoods. Such opportunities are essential, but the draft should also outline that national policies and enforcement are required to ensure safe and lawful jobs, access to labor markets, and legal redress as a safeguard against exploitation.

“We similarly applaud the inclusion of local solutions in refugee-hosting countries. The Compact should make clear, however, that access to full economic, social and civic participation in host countries is essential for refugees during their stay in those countries, regardless of their eventual destination. Sustainable solutions require national policies that ensure robust access to economic opportunity and the full protection of the law.

“As a family of local civil society organizations that collectively equips thousands of refugees across the globe with the tools to advocate for their rights and needs, we are pleased that the zero draft recognizes that efforts are ‘most effective when they actively engage’ refugees. We also applaud the specific inclusion of local civil society organizations to ‘engage in planning and program implementation, capacity building, and funding allocations.’ Local civil society organizations also should lead in engaging their own governments to adopt improved national policies and practices that ensure refugees can participate in the economy, society and civic life of their host countries.

“We look to the UNHCR and member states to put these principles of participation into practice as the drafting continues for this Global Compact.”

About Asylum Access:
Asylum Access believes all refugees deserve a fair chance at a new life. All over the world, we challenge barriers that keep refugees from living safely, moving freely, working and attending school — because when refugees can rebuild their lives, nations thrive.

As a family of organizations dedicated to making human rights a reality for refugees, Asylum Access includes national organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America and a global hub in Oakland, California, USA. At the national level, Asylum Access organizations provide legal empowerment to refugees and advocate for policy changes that improve refugees’ access to rights. Globally, Asylum Access supports other organizations to develop similar programs, and advocates for systemic changes regionally and globally that advance refugees’ power to rebuild their lives.

More information at