Important First Steps Towards More Meaningful Refugee Participation

Germany and the United States – for the first time ever – include refugee advisors in their state delegations to a global refugee meeting. Our partner Refugees Seeking Equal Access at the Table, who is promoting this model around the world, has helped to make this happen. 

Robert Bosch Stiftung | December 2021
Palais des Nations in Geneva
UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

The Palais des Nations in Geneva is the European headquarter of the United Nations.

When it comes to refugee policymaking, the perspectives and expertise of the persons concerned have mostly been missing so far. Our partner Refugees Seeking Equal Access at the Table (R-SEAT) is a global initiative and coalition of partners from academia, philanthropy, and policymakers led by refugees who are working to enhance meaningful refugee participation. R-SEAT has directly worked with Germany and the United States, and other states on meaningful refugee participation. Germany and the United States are now including – for the first time ever – a refugee advisor in their official delegations for this week’s UNHCR High-Level Officials Meeting. 

“Refugees make most valuable contributions to their host communities. This is why I am very happy that Germany – for the first time – has a refugee advisor participating in our delegation”, Ambassador Sibylle Katharina Sorg, Director General for Crisis Prevention, Stabilisation, Peace-Building and Humanitarian Assistance at the German Federal Foreign Office, says. “Communicating that the sharing of good practices of refugee engagement and their inclusion into host communities is essential and listening to their advice is crucial to advance meaningful refugee participation.”

Three years after the Global Compact on Refugees, which set out to improve the international refugee response, the international community takes stock of progress towards its objectives in the High-Level Officials Meeting organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. One commitment in the Compact was to ensure more meaningful refugee participation. Germany and the United States have taken first but important steps towards realising this commitment and are following Canada’s example. Canada was the first country to include a refugee advisor at the Global Refugee Forum in 2019, complemented by last year’s commitment to include refugees in all future delegations addressing the international refugee system.