On September 19, 2016 all 193 Member States of the United Nations – including the United States – met at the Summit for Refugees and Migrants, and unanimously adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The introduction to the Declaration states in part, “We reaffirm the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. We reaffirm also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recall the core international human rights treaties. We reaffirm and will fully protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status; all are rights holders. Our response will demonstrate full respect for international law and international human rights law and, where applicable, international refugee law and international humanitarian law…
Refugees and migrants in large movements often face a desperate ordeal. Many take great risks, embarking on perilous journeys, which many may not survive… Even if they reach their destination, they face an uncertain reception and a precarious future…
We are determined to address the root causes of large movements of refugees and migrants, including through increased efforts aimed at early prevention of crisis situations based on preventive diplomacy.”
The UN Refugee Agency states, “The New York Declaration is a milestone for global solidarity and refugee protection at this time of unprecedented displacement. The set of commitments, agreed by Member States, reflects an understanding that protecting those who are forced to flee, and supporting the countries that shelter them, are shared international responsibilities that must be borne more equitably and predictably.” Adding, “The New York Declaration… covers all refugees.”
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, announced on December 2, 2017 that the United States would be withdrawing from the agreement. Haley said, “Our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone. We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country.”
Aside from the nationalistic undertones of her statement, Haley’s statement ignores the role of the American government in creating the refugee crisis. In Syria alone, over half of the native population has been displaced, either internally or externally because of the Syrian Civil War, in which the US military has been heavily involved. Afghanistan also has a large number of people who have been displaced due to the ongoing fighting in that country, which is another country where the US military has been heavily involved in the fighting – including the 2015 bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz.
Withdrawing from the New York Declaration is the complete opposite action that should have been taken by the US government. The answer is simpler than one might think: stop making refugees! I’m not saying there would be no refugees or people displaced by war if the US military were not involved in numerous conflicts around the world. I’m simply saying there would be fewer refugees, fewer displaced people, and fewer conflicts if the United States military were not being used to police the world.