Areas of Work

Refugees and Migrants

QUNO works to protect and strengthen the rights of refugees and migrants at the UN level. We seek to uphold the dignity and worth of every individual, regardless of circumstance, and work to see this equality of all people better reflected by the international community in the treatment of people on the move.

We work with the UN human rights mechanisms, as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and others to advocate for responses to people on the move that are firmly rooted in international human rights principles. Using our traditional methods of bringing different actors engaged in this work together, we aim to create a more humane global vision and approach to people on the move.

QUNO is actively engaged in the follow up to the New York Declaration, a high-level document agreed by States on the 19th September 2016 focussed on addressing large movements of people. The declaration sets in motion a series of processes at the UN level which aim to improve global governance in this area. QUNO sees this as a significant opportunity to develop a more rights-respecting global framework for addressing large movements of people.

Our work also involves engaging with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on refugee protection issues (in particular related to conscientious objection to military service), ending statelessness and other matters related to forced displacement.

Recent Timeline Events

August 2018

Read QUNO's latest Geneva Reporter newsletter

The latest issue of the QUNO Geneva newsletter features: perspectives on the recently concluded negotiations for a Global Compact on Migration, a brief overview of the current state of international nuclear disarmament discussion, an update on our work on climate change, and a QUNO Q&A  with Rhiannon Redpath.

The full publication is available online below.

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June 2018

QUNO publishes ‘Towards a Human Rights Based Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration – Paper #4 Compilation of Agreed Language’.

QUNO is working to support the adoption of an ambitious, effective and human rights based Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.  The Compact is the opportunity for States to strengthen the implementation of International Human Rights Law and build on the commitments they have made in the past. 

With this in mind, 'Paper #4' contains a compilation of agreed language that relates to the human rights of migrants from treaty law, General Assembly resolutions and Human Rights Council resolutions.  It has been compiled to provide an easy-to-use source to assist State representatives in ensuring that the Global Compact for Migration does not fall below or undermine existing standards.

This paper is part of QUNO’s paper series, “Towards a Human Rights Based Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” a set of contributions to the global compact on migration process.  You can find the other papers in the link below. 

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March 2018

QUNO speaks at a side event on 'Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants'

On 2nd March Laurel Townhead, QUNO’s Human Rights and Refugees Representative, spoke on a panel on ‘Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants’ on the margins of the Human Rights Council.  The Panel aimed to highlight the pressing need for the human rights of migrants to be respected in the face of the restrictive environment that is prevalent in many countries with respect to migrants. Full video of the panel event is available below.

The other panelists were Nils Melzer, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and Pia Oberoi, an advisor on migration and human rights in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Opening remarks were given by Ambassador Zellweger, from the Permanent Mission of Switzerland.

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