LONDON – This year is likely to be the most momentous for refugee protection and migration since the signing of the Geneva Convention in 1951. Depending on the choices we make, we will either help create more open societies, based on greater international cooperation, or we will abet authoritarian governments and their nationalist agendas. So we must treat this issue with exceptional urgency and seriousness of purpose.
The refugee and migration crises in the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, and Central America have led to widespread and appalling human suffering. The significance of this can hardly be overstated, for the world’s failure to help its most vulnerable people reflects an extraordinary breakdown of morality in the international community.
We are at risk of losing our collective understanding of why the multilateral system and international cooperation matter. When we refuse to protect those facing persecution, we not only endanger them; we subvert our principles of civil liberty and put our own freedom at risk.
Last year, we were offered literally a million reminders that the system of refugee protection was failing. Each asylum-seeker bravely crossing the Mediterranean was telling us that something was wrong in countries of first asylum.