Latin America and the Caribbean adopt a common roadmap to address new displacement trends and end statelessness within the next decade
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean met in Brasilia, on 2 and 3 December 2014, at a Ministerial Meeting, hosted by the Government of Brazil, closing the Cartagena +30 commemorative process. The Cartagena Declaration is the landmark regional refugee instrument, which broadened the refugee definition for Latin America and proposed new approaches to the humanitarian needs of refugees and displaced with a spirit of solidarity and cooperation.
At the closing of the meeting, 28 countries and three territories of Latin America and the Caribbean (Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uruguay and Venezuela) adopted by acclamation the Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action, agreeing to work together to uphold the highest international and regional protection standards, implement innovative solutions for refugees and displaced persons and end the plight of stateless persons in the region.
The Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action are the result of extensive consultations with governments, international and regional organizations, Ombudsman offices, as well as the region’s vibrant civil society supported by the Norwegian Refugee Council, who co-organized the Cartagena +30 process together with UNHCR.
Main contents of the Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action
The Brazil Declaration “A Framework for Cooperation and Regional Solidarity to Strengthen the International Protection of Refugees, Displaced and Stateless Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean” contains the commitment to uphold the highest protection standards, recognises the main current humanitarian challenges affecting the region and makes innovative proposals on how to address them. These principles are translated into concrete programmes in the Brazil Plan of Action “A Common Roadmap to Strengthen Protection and Promote Solutions for Refugees, Displaced and Stateless Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean within a Framework of Cooperation and Solidarity”. The Plan is divided into eight chapters and includes 11 strategic programmes, to be implemented by governments that so decide, in the course of the next decade. Among the main highlights are:
✓ The commitment to improve refugee status determination procedures and the management of all matters relating to the right to seek and be granted asylum through the “Quality Asylum” programme, which incorporates high protection standards including those developed by the Inter-American System.
✓ The recognition that border areas are complex and need to be preserved as spaces of safety and protection for all peoples, natives and foreigners, proposing to establish a “Borders of Solidarity and Safety” programme that addresses the need of persons who reside and transit in, or return to, border areas as part of migratory movements, including people in need of international protection.
✓ The willingness and capacity of the region to continue offering innovative solutions for refugees, displaced and stateless persons, supporting countries in the region that receive high number of refugees, and showing solidarity with international humanitarian crises. The Plan of Action includes four far-reaching programmes: three embody the traditional durable solutions for refugees: “Voluntary Repatriation” programme, “Local Integration” programme and “Solidarity Resettlement” programme. A fourth, the “Labour mobility” programme, represents a novel mechanism of cooperation and regional solidarity that offers refugees the possibility to benefit from existing migration options under regional integration frameworks, particularly within MERCOSUR.
✓ The need for a response to the urgent humanitarian crisis generated by people fleeing violence and persecution by transnational organized crime and related violence, in the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America. As in 1984, the region demonstrates solidarity with the most affected countries and calls for the support of the international community to respond to this humanitarian situation and prevent its expansion through three specific programmes: the “Human Rights Observatory on Displacement”, the “Prevention” programme and the “Dignified and Safe Transit” programme.
✓ The participation, for the first time in a “Cartagena commemorative process” of the countries and territories of the Caribbean as a region, with its own challenges and particularities. The Plan of Action includes a “Regional Solidarity with the Caribbean” programme, which may lead to the establishment of a Regional Consultative Mechanism to support efficient management of mixed migration.
✓ The call for ending statelessness within the next decade through the implementation of the “Eradicating Statelessness” programme. Latin America and the Caribbean will become the first region in the world to officially join UNHCR’s Global Campaign to End Statelessness.
✓ The recognition of the new challenges posed by climate change and natural disasters as well as by displacement caused by these phenomena, reaffirming the good regional protection and relief practices and requesting UNHCR to promote in depth studies on the matter to support the adoption of appropriate national and regional responses.
✓ The critical importance of regional cooperation and solidarity, through a deepened level of coordination, complementarity and convergence among regional and subregional integration mechanisms. The Plan of Action dedicates a chapter to regional cooperation referring to the potential benefits that could result from enhanced South-South cooperation in the field of international protection.
✓ Last but not least, the inclusion of a chapter on implementation and follow-up, encouraging countries to establish evaluation and follow-up mechanisms, and requesting UNHCR to produce triennial progress reports and a final report at the end of the duration of the Plan in 2014.