Assessing the Impact of the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration in the Middle East

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Oxford University Press




Today, the overwhelming burden of the global refugee and migrant crisis is borne by the Middle East region, driven by protracted armed conflict and exacerbated by a deficit of applicable international legal norms. Most States in the Middle East have not adopted the international treaties that provide protection guarantees for refugees and stateless persons, the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, the 1954 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons, and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The lack of legal status for persons displaced by conflict, many of whom are stateless refugees, leaves them in situations of protracted vulnerability in host States with no apparent solutions. These populations have become among the largest and longest-standing intergenerational stateless refugees in the world, remaining in a region that is perceived as endlessly mired in conflict, sectarian strife, terrorism, and a democracy deficit. Huge numbers of refugees, stateless people, and other displaced persons considerably strain already-scarce resources in countries such as Lebanon, where one in four persons today is a refugee, or Jordan, which is the fourth-most water-stressed country in the world. The Global Compact on Refugees (Refugee Compact) and the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (Migration Compact) may provide a timely and much-needed impetus to re-energize local strategies aimed at filling these normative legal gaps through regional, rather than international, agreements. Regional (Arab) and Islamic agreements such as the Arab Charter on Human Rights, the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s (OIC) Covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam, and the Protocol for the Treatment of Palestinians in Arab States (Casablanca Protocol), all of which have relevant provisions on nationality, refugees, and statelessness, are being re-evaluated through the Global Compact processes, while most of the parallel international treaties continue to lack credibility in the region.

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