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CIMM Committee Report

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GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE REPORT OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS STANDING COMMITTEE ON CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION ENTITLED
"New Tools for the 21st Century – The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact for Refugees: An Interim Report."

Introduction

The Government of Canada thanks the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) for its 23rd Report entitled, "New Tools for the 21st Century – The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact for Refugees: An Interim Report" which was tabled in the House of Commons on December 6, 2018.

The Report put forward two important recommendations, to which the Government responds below. The Government strongly supports the Report and its recommendations.

Across the globe, thousands of people are on the move each day. In 2017, there were approximately 258 million people on the move, the majority of whom migrated through regular channels and without incident, in search of new economic opportunities. This number represents a 49% increase since 2000, and approximately 3.4% of the world's population. In 2018, a total of 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide. These movements were comprised of 40 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), 25.4 million refugees and 3.1 million asylum seekers, who were escaping armed conflict, poverty, food insecurity, human rights violations and persecution.

As migration continues to grow, the world's collective response to large-scale movements of people remains inadequate – while the majority of migrants follow regular pathways.

In 2016, United Nations (UN) Member States gathered to unanimously adopt the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (the Declaration), at the UN General Assembly, recognizing that no country or community can deal with migration and refugee situations on their own. Greater and more predictable international cooperation and support is a necessity. This Declaration emerged from the 2015 crisis in Syria, in response to the international community's need to better address some of the challenges this crisis posed.

The current global context has seen a rise in populist movements, and anti-immigration rhetoric; the refusal to fulfil international obligations to refugees; the mistreatment of refugees and migrants; and the loss of many lives as people risk everything to find safety, only to be met with shut doors. Yet we are witnessing a willingness by the vast majority of countries to work collectively to develop a common and constructive way forward, and to leverage the opportunities presented by large-scale mixed movements.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (Global Compact for Migration or Migration Compact), and the Global Compact on Refugees respond to the need to find long-term and sustainable solutions to this new migration context. The processes to develop the two Global Compacts were launched together and with parallel, but distinct purposes.

Canada was actively engaged throughout the negotiations and development of the New York Declaration, during which we were recognized for our support for the International Organization for Migration, our support for the participation of civil society, and our leadership on migration and refugee issues. Canada continued to play a leadership role in advocating for a Migration Compact that includes concrete, practical actions and reflects the views of civil society, including migrants themselves. The development of the Migration Compact provided a platform for Canada to be a strong, constructive voice on the international stage as we highlight the economic and social benefits of immigration in Canada's development.

The Migration Compact represents a historic achievement as it is the first time that the vast majority of countries have agreed on a common set of principles, approaches and practices that enable better management of migration. The Compact is a balanced and practical text, and is a key part of the implementation of the migration-related UN Agenda 2030 commitments. It also aligns with key Canadian values and international commitments, including on human rights, gender equality, the rights of Indigenous peoples, the rights of the child, climate change and labour rights. It must be noted that one of the underpinning pillars of the Compact, as explicitly stated in its preamble, is the respect for State sovereignty.

The Global Compact on Refugees stands on the foundation of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the internationally agreed upon responsibility to protect those fleeing persecution. The Global Compact on Refugees aims to build a stronger, fairer response to global refugee movements. The key aims are to ease pressure on countries hosting a large number of refugees, help refugees become self-reliant, and expand third country solutions for refugees, such as resettlement.

International efforts to address the movements of migrants and refugees will be more effective if they are guided by a balanced and shared long-term vision of the positive benefits of managed migration, and the need for greater international cooperation to better respond to large movements of refugees.

Below, the Government responds affirmatively to the two recommendations put forward by the Report.

1) Vote in favour of the Global Compacts

That the Government of Canada vote in favour of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees.

The Government of Canada has implemented this recommendation.

Global Compact for Migration:

Canada joined consensus at the Intergovernmental Conference on the Adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech on December 10, 2018. On December 19, 2018, Canada voted for the adoption of the Global Compact for Migration at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). A total of 152 UN Member States voted in favour, five voted against (Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, and the United States) and twelve countries abstained (Algeria, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Chile, Italy, Latvia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Romania, Singapore, Switzerland).

Global Compact on Refugees:

On December 17, 2018, Canada, voted for the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees as part of the annual UNHCR Omnibus Resolution at UNGA. A total of 181 UN Member States voted in favour of the Global Compact on Refugees, two Member States voted against (the United States voted against the Omnibus Resolution, though it stated support for the Compact included in that resolution, and Hungary) and three countries abstained (Eritrea, Liberia and Libya).

2) Leveraging the fora provided by the Compacts

That the Government of Canada leverage the fora provided by the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees to participate in shaping the future global best practices to address migration by:

a) sharing Canada's best practices and participating in the development of responses to the challenges facing internally displaced persons, including victims of genocide like the Yazidi and other victims of Daesh.

The Government of Canada supports this recommendation.

In 2018, a total of 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide. These movements were comprised of 40 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), 25.4 million refugees and 3.1 million asylum seekers, who were escaping armed conflict, poverty, food insecurity, human rights violations and persecution.

The Government of Canada remains deeply concerned by the plight of IDPs around the world, who are displaced by factors such as conflict, human rights violations, and natural disasters. The Government of Canada recognizes that the primary responsibility to provide protection and assistance to populations displaced within their territory lies with their State. This obligation is embedded in international human rights and humanitarian law.

However, the Government of Canada has tools to address the protection and solutions needs of IDPs in certain rare and extraordinary circumstances. Under Section 25.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship can, and has extended protection to particularly vulnerable groups or individuals via a public policy. This unique tool leverages Canada's expertise in refugee resettlement, a program that in 2018, offered international protection to more than 27,000 refugees. For example, in response to a unanimous motion in the House of Commons on October 25, 2016, to provide assistance to Yazidi women and girls escaping genocide, the Government of Canada made a commitment to resettle approximately 1,200 survivors of Daesh (located inside and outside of Iraq), including Yazidi women and girls, by the end of 2017. As of November 2018, Canada had welcomed more than 1,400 survivors of Daesh, including vulnerable Yazidi women and children. Canada stands ready to share our unique experiences on this initiative with other countries around the world.

The vulnerabilities faced by IDPs, particularly women and children, are similar to those of refugees. They struggle to meet their essential needs, and face numerous protection risks such as settling in unfit or unsafe locations, being forced to return to unsafe areas, gender-based violence, abuse and/or exploitation. Unlike with refugees, however, no single agency or organization has the leading role to ensure an appropriate response to IDPs. Thus, while the Global Compact on Refugees does not explicitly address IDP issues, it does provide a useful "toolbox" of actions which could be applied to situations of internal displacement. This includes support for comprehensive approaches that bring a variety of development, humanitarian, non-governmental, and governmental actors together to share responsibility for IDP assistance, protection and solutions.

Canada will continue to support a coordinated multi-stakeholder approach to IDP assistance, protection and solutions. This includes working with humanitarian actors to protect and provide for the basic needs of IDPs, as well as developing common messaging on the issue of voluntary and sustainable returns in safety and dignity. Notably, Canada demonstrates support for IDP assistance through the provision of institutional support to UNHCR, IOM and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). These international organizations help coordinate responses to internal displacement, advocate for durable solutions, and assist with relocation, return, resettlement and integration of those who have been forcibly displaced. In addition to support to multilateral organizations, Canada provides context-specific humanitarian assistance to people affected by conflict and natural disasters through experienced humanitarian partners who are able to identify and reach the most vulnerable. IDPs, among other people in marginalized and vulnerable contexts therefore receive basic life-saving assistance and protection from violence.

Looking ahead, there are a number of opportunities for increased Canadian engagement on IDP-related issues in 2019. For example, 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. In addition, a group of States from both the Global North and South, led by Norway, have recommended that the UN Secretary General convene a High Level Panel to examine the issue of internal displacement globally. Canada will remain engaged with this process and will seek opportunities to share best practices. Moreover, Canada will continue to engage with the UN Agencies working most closely on IDP policy (UNHCR, IOM, and the OCHA) to bring more attention to this issue.

b) sharing Canada's best practices and participating in the development of programs to support migrating women and girls globally

The Government of Canada supports this recommendation.

Gender equality is at the heart of Canadian foreign policy, as expressed in the Government of Canada Feminist Foreign Policy and the Feminist International Assistance Policy.

In line with these priorities, throughout the development of both Compacts, Canada consistently advocated for gender-sensitive documents that better include, protect and empower refugees and migrants in vulnerable contexts, including women and girls.

The Migration Compact text reflects this key Canadian priority as one of the ten guiding principles upon which the 23 objectives of the Compact are built. This principle aims to mainstream a gender perspective. The potential of women and girls to act as agents of change cannot be ignored, however, the harsh realities of vulnerabilities must also be addressed. With respect to the Global Compact for Migration, Canada advocated for an increased recognition of the gendered dimensions of international migration and mobility and ensured the Compact contained measures to protect the specific human rights of migrant women and girls.

Further, the Migration Compact endorsed the creation of a new UN Migration Network coordinated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The goal of the Network is to ensure effective, timely and coordinated support to States as they implement the objectives of the Migration Compact, and learn from best practices utilizing a gender-responsive approach.

Through its Migration Policy Development Program, IRCC currently engages with bilateral and multilateral partners on sustainable capacity building efforts for example, sharing best practices around travel document integrity, strengthening asylum systems and piloting complementary pathways for refugees to migrate using economic immigration pathways. The Government will continue to exchange and promote best practices on gender-sensitive migration management practices in line with the objectives of the Migration Compact.

The Global Compact on Refugees includes specific measures to advance gender equality and address the particular needs and risks faced by refugee women and girls. Canada welcomes these explicit provisions and will work to ensure that they shape comprehensive refugee responses.

Canada is increasing the number of refugees it resettles, reaching 32,000 by 2020. In the 2018 Budget Plan, the Government committed to resettle an additional 1,000 vulnerable women and girls from various conflict zones around the world. This commitment builds on the global leadership demonstrated by Canada through our long standing and robust global resettlement program. As of November 2018, Canada had already resettled over 300 women and girls including their family members as part of this 1,000 person commitment.

Within Canada's refugee resettlement program, the Women at Risk initiative recognizes the unique vulnerabilities of refugee women and girls and is designed to offer resettlement opportunities to women in perilous or permanently unstable situations as well as in situations where urgent and expedited processing is necessary. In addition, women at risk with special needs may be resettled to Canada under the Joint Assistance Sponsorship program, which partners with private sponsors to provide additional settlement support.

Each year Canada is able to provide urgent resettlement for around 100 refugee cases a year through the Urgent Protection Program. Refugees resettled under the Urgent Protection Program are individuals for whom their life, liberty or physical safety is under immediate threat and, if not protected, the person is likely to be: killed; subjected to violence, torture, sexual assault or arbitrary imprisonment; or returned to their country of nationality or former habitual residence.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is the sole organization that can refer refugees for urgent protection, given their unique positions and mandate to provide safety in the asylum country, assess protection needs and urgency and refer to a different resettlement country on an emergency basis if Canada cannot provide urgent protection.

Through the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI), Canada shares best practices in the sponsorship of refugees with other States and civil society organizations interested in building their own sponsorship programs. Over the past two years, IRCC and its GRSI partners have worked with a number of countries around the world to assist them in setting up Canadian-style sponsorship programs. Already, new sponsorship programs have been implemented in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Argentina, and Ireland. Germany and Spain have both publicly committed to launching sponsorship programs in their jurisdictions in 2019.

Canada's commitment to gender equality in humanitarian contexts is also underscored by the G7 "Whistler Declaration on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls in Humanitarian Action." Building on this, Canada is supporting mutually reinforcing initiatives addressing both the immediate humanitarian needs of the Rohingya refugees as well as contributing to a more efficient and effective gender-responsive humanitarian system. Furthermore, as of January 1, 2019, Canada officially became lead of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies (Call to Action). The Call to Action is a global multi-stakeholder initiative launched in 2013 to fundamentally transform the way gender-based violence is addressed in humanitarian emergencies.

Further, under Canada's G7 Presidency for 2018, the Government of Canada committed to investing $400 million over three years, in addition to the $180 million provided in January 2018 to the Global Partnership for Education for 2018-2020. These investments will support global action to improve access and reduce barriers to quality education for women and girls in crisis and conflict situations, which include refugees. Canada's investment was in unison with the European Union, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the World Bank, for a total investment of nearly $3.8 billion raised at the G7 Summit, followed by $527 million in subsequent fundraising.

In line with Canada's leadership under the Call for Action, IRCC, in partnership with UNHCR and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), supported the deployment of experts in Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) to Uganda, Ethiopia, and Costa Rica under the ICMC and UNHCR Resettlement Deployment Scheme. This added capacity in UNHCR operations aims to provide protection and solutions to support refugees, particularly women and girls who are survivors of SGBV. These experts supported a range of protection activities, such as identifying and referring refugee women and girls for resettlement in third countries, including Canada.

Further, a range of IRCC programming, such as the Settlement Program, complemented by those of other federal, provincial/territorial and municipal partners, are in place to help women and girls integrate into Canadian society while also mitigating conditions of vulnerability. For example, given that visible minority newcomer women often face multiple barriers to employment, in December 2018 IRCC launched, the Visible Minority Newcomer Women pilot to fund programming that supports the employment and career advancement of visible minority newcomer women in Canada.

The successful integration of newcomers in Canada, including refugee women and girls, also engages a wide array of societal actors such as employers and established Canadians. An example of this engagement is seen in the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, where sponsors drawn from all areas of society, provide financial, emotional and settlement support to refugees for one year, or longer.

In addition to providing settlement and resettlement support to women and girls in vulnerable contexts, Canada works with source and transit countries to identify and disrupt migrant smuggling and irregular migration. Canada's Migrant Smuggling Prevention Strategy employs a whole-of-government approach in the fight against migrant smuggling via air, sea or land modes of transportation. Across the world, an increasing number of women, men, and children embark on unsafe journeys in search of safety, dignity or economic opportunities. Smuggled persons, especially women and children, are also at high risk of becoming victims of trafficking in persons during or after their journey. Since 2011, Canada has delivered over $37 million in capacity-building assistance in Asia, Africa, and the Americas (Mexico) in order to reduce the flow of irregular migrants who are putting their lives at risk at the hands of unscrupulous smugglers. Global Affairs Canada (GAC) is currently supporting two projects in Latin America which focus specifically on deterring irregular migration among children and youth, including girls, in a further effort to deter perilous migration within the region.

The Government of Canada continues to engage in discussions on best practices and policy development on migration and gender. As an example, Special Representative to the UN Secretary General for International Migration, Louise Arbour spoke on migration during the Women's Foreign Minister's Meeting hosted in Canada in September 2018.

Ongoing opportunities will be sought to raise gender considerations within the context of migration, including best practices, in our international engagements.

c) offering to host future international conferences in support of the objectives of the Compacts

The Government of Canada supports this recommendation.

The Government will continue to lead Canada's engagement in the hosting of international conferences, in support of the objectives of both Global Compacts and within the context the implementation of Canada's international agenda.

On February 4, 2019, Canada demonstrated leadership in this regard by hosting the 10th Lima Group Ministerial Meeting in Ottawa. Canada is an active member of the Lima Group, which is comprised of over a dozen countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, and promotes regional response mechanisms to address the current political, economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Following this Lima Group convening, Canada led the release of the 'Ottawa Declaration for Venezuela' to reaffirm Venezuela's right to peace, democracy and human assistance. In advancement of the objectives of the Declaration, Canada announced close to $53 million in humanitarian aid and development support, focused on meeting the basic needs of those most affected, including migrants and refugees who have fled from Venezuela to neighbouring countries.

In addition, in June 2019, Canada will host the International Metropolis Conference in Ottawa-Gatineau. The Conference is the largest annual international gathering of world experts from academia, governments and civil society in the fields of migration, integration and diversity. All eight themes of the Conference align with both Global Compacts, including a focus on IDPs, which is anchored in Recommendation 2a of the Report, and coordinated actions to implement the Global Compacts. As the host country, Canada is in a unique position to showcase its managed migration system and to influence the global discourse on migration, growth and innovation. In turn, the Conference sessions will offer access to best practices, policy responses, and evidence-based research from leading experts across the world, which could serve to benefit Canada's policy and program development.

The Migration Compact identifies the IOM-led International Migration Review Forum as the primary intergovernmental global platform for Member States to discuss and share progress on the implementation of all aspects of the Migration Compact, with an intent to meet every four years beginning in 2022. The Migration Compact thus recognizes the importance of State-led processes and international forums in exchanging best practices and innovative approaches. One example of Canada's alignment with this specific recommendation is seen in Canada's upcoming Chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees (IGC) for 2019-2020. The IGC includes the participation of 17 States and is primarily focused on the exchange of best practices, policy and data on issues related to the global governance of migration. Under the auspice of our Chairmanship, Canada will host IGC meetings in fall 2019 and summer 2020.

Further, in support of the objectives of the Migration Compact, Canada will also be host to an IOM-led international conference in 2019-2020 on the international regulation of labour recruiters, to identify regulatory gaps and exchange information.

In line with the adopted text of the Global Compact on Refugees, Canada will actively support and participate in Ministerial-level Global Refugee Forums. These Forums are a critical component of the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees. Held every four years in Geneva, beginning in December 2019, the Forums will be an opportunity for Member States and other stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations and major multilateral organizations, to voluntarily make pledges in line with the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees. These pledges, if implemented in a meaningful way, will be vital in allowing the Global Compact on Refugees to deliver on its promise. Canada will seek to make pledges that build on areas of Canadian expertise (e.g. refugee resettlement and humanitarian assistance) and which align with Canadian priorities.

The Global Compact on Refugees also calls for the creation of country or region-specific Support Platforms. These are multi-stakeholder arrangements to enable context-specific support for refugees and concerned host countries and communities. These Platforms would be convened upon the request of concerned host countries, or countries of origin. Canada will play an appropriate role in future Support Platforms when they are convened.

In addition to these structured arrangements outlined in the Global Compact on Refugees, Canada will continue to engage in other forums which support the wider objectives of the Compact, including by hosting future international conferences. For example, the June 2019 Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver will examine issues affecting women and girls' health, including in situations of forced displacement. Canada is already an active participant in the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR), a forum referenced in the Global Compact on Refugees that involves UNHCR, resettlement States, intergovernmental and international organizations, and civil society organizations. In addition, Canada is currently a member of working groups on resettlement and resettlement core groups under the umbrella of the ATCR such as the Syria Core Group and the Central Mediterranean Core Group. Canada regularly shares our best practices and contributes to program development with international partners on third country solutions.

d) dedicating resources to combat myths and misinformation on the Compacts and migration, generally, to reassure Canadians that the Compacts do not threaten Canada's sovereignty and indeed that safe, orderly and regular migration is important to our future prosperity.

The Government of Canada supports this recommendation.

The adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees allows Canada to highlight to the public its proud humanitarian tradition of resettling those most in need of protection. Canada's ongoing contribution to the key Global Compact on Refugees objective, to expand access to third country solutions, aligns well with Canada's positive narrative of nation-building, where generations of newcomers contribute to their host society, culture and economy.

The adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees is an opportunity to reiterate that refugees are not simply seeking assistance, but also to contribute their skills and talents to the development of their host communities. These key considerations inform the Government of Canada's core communications strategies to combat myths and misinformation about the important contributions refugees make to Canadian society.

Similarly, one of Canada's key objectives for the Migration Compact was to support progressive responses to migration and mobility and contribute to a more constructive narrative on migration. This includes highlighting facts about the Compacts to actively counter anti-immigration rhetoric and address myths that are not rooted in reality. For example, concerns have been expressed about the Compacts threatening the independence of individual States. Yet the fact remains that State sovereignty is explicitly expressed as a guiding principle in the Compact, which reaffirms the sovereign right of States to determine their own migration policies.

The Migration Compact outlines 23 objectives and commitments for safe, orderly and regular migration that States can work towards to improve their own migration systems. These are supported by a list of best practices from which States can draw in order to achieve the objectives. The Compacts do not attempt to replace national migration policies, nor to impose arbitrary requirements related to migration. Instead it is a framework building upon principles and best practices to inform the efforts of each country to strengthen their own migration systems for their contexts.

For Canada, the majority of the almost 200 action items listed under the Compact's objectives reflect current Canadian practices. However, Canada is not obligated to adhere to each of these actions. The text is clear that the Compact is non-binding.

Canada is a country that draws strength from its diversity; it is part of our national identity, Canada and the Canadian people have benefitted greatly from the positive impact that migrants bring to our society. We have benefitted economically, socially, culturally, with migrants supporting the growth of our labour force and bringing new skills. Migrants also contribute through their entrepreneurship by creating new jobs, investment ties and boosting innovation.

In light of the principles of the Migration Compact and as part of regular government decision-making, IRCC, as part of the Government of Canada, will continue to work diligently to ensure Canadians are presented with facts, provided a balanced view of migration and will continue to dedicate resources to ensure Canadians understand the benefits of regular migration, and international collaboration on this issue. Examples of this include IRCC's Immigration Matters ( https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/campaigns/immigration-matters.html ) initiative as well as regular posting of news releases, statements and Ministerial speeches on IRCC's public website to communicate key facts and developments on migration and refugee-related issues. Further, in line with Objective 17 of the Migration Compact, States have committed to, " Eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration " and to inform the public on the positive contributions of safe, orderly and regular migration.

Launched in November 2018, IRCC's Immigration Matters initiative focuses on how immigration is strengthening Canada and helping communities succeed and aims promote a conversation about the importance of immigration for Canada. In line with the principles of both Global Compacts, the initiative combines positive narratives and facts about immigrants and refugees and promotes positive engagement between Canadians and newcomers. The initiative was proposed after public opinion research showed that, while most Canadians support immigration at a national and provincial level, they had questions about the effects of immigration at the local level as well as interest in learning more about Canada's immigration selection process and settlement outcomes.