International Refugee Congress

About the Congress

The International Refugee Congress, which took place on 10-11 May 2018 in Istanbul, brought together organisations working on refugee issues around the world. The congress welcomed 156 participants representing 98 organisations from 29 countries. These participants included representatives from refugee-led organisations, national and international civil society organisations, think tanks, academia, municipalities, the private sector and other allies.

The outcome of the congress was a communiqué which outlines policy propositions and recommendations that are the product of a six-month process of consultation and policy co-creation. This involved almost 600 organizations from 47 countries, united by a desire to put the voices and aspirations of refugees and the communities that host them at the forefront of policy and program development.

You can access the communiqué here in English, Turkish and Arabic.

During the two days of the congress, participants discussed and debated policy positions based on their experiences, as well as priorities emerging from the consultation process that took place prior to the event. The debates centered around five thematic areas: durable solutions and responsibility sharing; access to services; representation and participation of refugees and host communities; women and displacement; and legal rights and asylum. The congress concluded with a dialogue between participants and representatives from UNHCR, UN Women, ECHO and Oxfam.

The congress also provided a space for participants to share experiences across geographies and different types of organization. Participants also discussed their ideas on future collaboration, partnership and shared responsibility, including towards the creation of a refugee platform.

The communiqué represents the shared views of all participants on policy options that could help to address issues of concern for refugees and host communities. Across all of its policy propositions, it draws attention to the need to address the ongoing denial of voice to refugee and national civil society organisations in international policymaking processes.

The communiqué is a tool which will support future dialogue between refugee-led and national civil society organisations with national and international institutions. In particular, it will support these organisations’ efforts towards inclusive and participatory policy and program decision-making that benefits both refugees and the communities that host them. As such, the congress and its outcome document will feed into the upcoming Global Summit of Refugees on 25-26 June 2018 in Geneva ahead of the 2018 UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs, as well as to other policymaking processes related to ongoing discussions on the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).