Protection Statement

Government of Canada Intervention to the 68th Session of the UNHCR Executive Committee

Thank you Madam Chair,

The global community’s shared responsibility for international protection is at the core of why we are here. Today, I will focus my comments on our shared commitments to refugees, support for UNHCR’s protection mandate, and expanding third-country solutions.

Madam Chair,

The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol provide the foundation of the refugee regime. Canada reiterates its call for all countries to accede to the Convention and to fully implement it.

The adoption of the New York Declaration reaffirmed the international community’s legal obligations and shared commitments to refugees. We resolved to find new ways of working together toward greater responsibility sharing and international cooperation for refugee responses. Canada is pleased to recognize the leadership and progress of those countries applying the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, and of UNHCR in steering the development of the Global Compact on Refugees. We look forward to the lessons learned to inform practical and concrete measures for future implementation through the Compact’s Programme of Action.

Madam Chair,

Canada firmly supports UNHCR’s unique protection mandate, and values the Agency’s role in providing guidance on protection for refugees and other people in need of protection. Recognizing that displacement happens along a continuum, we note the leadership role of UNHCR in coordinating protection during complex humanitarian emergencies. We call on UNHCR to mobilize networks to implement effective approaches to protection in countries of origin, such as through multi-stakeholder strategies of advocacy, early warning, and community-based protection programming.  Further, we encourage UNHCR to ensure the protection needs of women, men, boys and girls are addressed throughout its programming and all stages of response, taking into account the differentiated nature of these needs. This includes increased opportunities for education, self-reliance and empowerment.

Canada also encourages UNHCR’s engagement in the process to develop the Global Compact on Safe, Regular, and Orderly Migration, particularly on issues within the Agency’s established experience and competence. We welcome UNHCR’s reflections on issues requiring coherence and complementarity between the two Compacts.

Madam Chair,

The New York Declaration commits states to increase third country solutions to meet the urgent protection needs of refugees and achieve greater international responsibility sharing. In the face of a staggering shortfall of resettlement spaces globally, establishing and growing traditional resettlement programs, community sponsorship models, and complementary pathways is more important than ever, particularly where durable solutions are not evident. Canada appeals to states, UNHCR and other partners to work together to build capacity for these pathways. We stand ready to support countries with an interest in exploring community-based refugee sponsorship programs, refugee integration programming, and whole-of-society engagement.

Canada remains committed to doing its part through historically high resettlement levels. In 2016, Canada resettled more than 46,000 refugees. Our planned admission of 25,000 resettled refugees in 2017 remains among the highest in Canada’s history and will more than double our 2015 target. Beyond this, we will continue to work with other states, including emerging resettlement states, to cooperate for the strategic use of resettlement as an element of refugee responses, and to consider multi-year commitments that are flexible in emerging situations.

In closing Madam Chair,

Canada appeals to the global community to uphold people-centered, inclusive approaches to international protection, and to see the overwhelming disadvantages in containment and exclusionary measures. This is a time to reaffirm our common humanity and the obligations we all share in protecting universal human rights. In fulfilling such obligations, we unlock significant human potential and build greater stability and social cohesion globally.

This Committee has a particular responsibility to provide authoritative guidance on international protection. We look forward to a constructive and forward-looking debate during this session.

Thank you