16 May 2017 (Ottawa, Canada) —  As the number of refugees worldwide surpasses 21 million, the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), with support from the Government of Canada, today launched the World Refugee Council (WRC), an independent group of global leaders and innovators aimed at advancing new solutions to the global refugee crisis.

Chaired by former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, the Council will offer advice on broad-reaching reform and innovation to reinvigorate the global refugee system. The Council will develop a transformative agenda to help ensure that international cooperation for refugees is predictable, equitable and just.

“With the crisis in Syria entering its sixth year, and new crises emerging in Africa and around the world, the current refugee protection system is struggling to meet the needs of states and refugees alike,” said Axworthy. “Now more than ever there is an urgent need for bold and innovative thinking on how we can improve international cooperation and ensure more predictable outcomes for refugees and states alike.”

“Canada is committed to being a strong voice to help the most vulnerable worldwide,” said the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs. “Our support for the World Refugee Council will promote shared responsibility and greater international solidarity to address the essential needs of refugees.”

The work of the Council will build on the New York Declaration, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016, and the process to negotiate a Global Compact on refugees, led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It will provide much-needed research and recommendations on structural reform, including how best to manage refugee movements; deploy emerging technologies for improved protection and solutions for refugees; promote innovative financing models; and identify opportunities for strengthening the international legal regime on refugees.

“Canada is deeply concerned by the high numbers of people fleeing conflict and persecution across the globe,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canadian Minister of International Development and La Francophonie. “By drawing upon the leadership and experience of the World Refugee Council, this investment will support innovative thinking and comprehensive approaches to complex challenges.”

The Council co-chairs are Jakaya Kikwete, former president of Tanzania; Hina Jilani, an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan; and Rita Süssmuth, immigration reform advocate and former president of the German Bundestag. The Council is composed of a diverse group of councillors who as thought leaders, stateswomen and statesmen will conduct the work of the Council and seek to forge consensus among countries of the Global South and North. The Council will also be assisted by a civil society advisory group and supported by a robust research agenda.

CIGI will coordinate the work of the Council, which will be directed by Fen Osler Hampson, a distinguished fellow and director of CIGI’s Global Security & Politics Program, and Paul Heinbecker, a distinguished fellow and former Canadian ambassador to the UN, who is the Council’s deputy chair.

“We have reached a tipping point within the global refugee crisis where new models of collaboration are desperately needed,” said Hampson, director of the World Refugee Council. “Our goal is to work with civil society, international organizations, the private sector and governments to improve outcomes for refugees and states alike.”

 


 

Media Contacts:

Sean Zohar, CIGI Communications Advisor, szohar@cigionline.org, +1 519 497 9112

Jeff Stoub, CIGI Communications Manager, jstoub@cigionline.org, +1 514 466 5333

 

We are the Centre for International Governance Innovation: an independent, non-partisan think tank with an objective and uniquely global perspective. Our research, opinions and public voice make a difference in today’s world by bringing clarity and innovative thinking to global policy making. By working across disciplines and in partnership with the best peers and experts, we are the benchmark for influential research and trusted analysis.