For several years a group of us at the Centre for Policy Development (CPD) have been endeavouring to develop a regional framework for the management of refugee issues in our region. We strongly feel that no country in the region, including Australia, can handle refugee flows on their own. A regional framework based on cooperation and burden-sharing is essential.
For over two years we have been pursuing the case for a Track II Dialogue in the region. We have felt that this is necessary to break out of the impasse on refugees that Australia and other countries face in the region. The Track II Dialogue includes people from the region with an interest and understanding of the issues. It includes members from think-tanks, government officials in a private capacity and people from international agencies.
The first Track II Dialogue including a diverse group of people from the region was held in Melbourne last year. The second Track II Dialogue was held in Bangkok in January this year. That Track II Dialogue in Bangkok was followed by a meeting of officials involved in the Bali Process. That meeting welcomed the suggestions of the Track II Dialogue. This meeting has now been followed by a ministerial meeting this week.
The results are very encouraging as set out in the following press release from CPD. You will also see further on, a link to an article in the SMH of 23 March, headed ‘Indonesia says Bali Process failure on refugee crisis “must not happen again.” John Menadue.
MEDIA RELEASE FROM CENTRE FOR POLICY DEVELOPMENT
*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
Bali Process steps up, but action on forced migration will be critical. *
The Bali Process can now lead a regional approach to forced migration that is effective, dignified and durable. Outcomes agreed at the Bali Process Ministerial Meeting demonstrate governments in the region can do much more on forced migration. The Ministerial Declaration and the new Response Mechanism are promising developments. The challenge now is for Bali Process countries, especially its Co-Chairs, to turn such promise into reality.
CPD’s CEO, Travers McLeod, said:
“Outcomes agreed by ministers can enable the Bali Process to be less about process and much more about effective, durable and dignified action on forced migration.”
“Over 60 million people are now displaced globally, many in the Asia-Pacific region. New stories of the suffering of forced migrants emerge daily. The underlying causes, including conflict, persecution, human trafficking, people smuggling, transnational crime and now climate change, are resulting in escalating numbers. Governments are struggling to respond effectively – unilateral action will not do.”
“It’s pleasing to see the Bali Process adopt recommendations of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration, which CPD convenes with regional policy institutes. A review of limitations of regional responses to the 2015 Andaman Sea crisis and improvements needed, including a new capability for the Bali Process to broker more predictable and effective responses on forced migration (even preventative action), is overdue.”
“The challenge now is for leaders to deploy this new capability and put it to work, instead of letting short-term thinking dictate counterproductive national responses.”
CPD fellow, Peter Hughes, a former Deputy Secretary at the Department of Immigration in Australia, also welcomed the announcement:
“The nature of the Bali Process, with its vast size and diverse membership, means that it has stopped short of direct responses to major incidents of displacement in the past. Its role was very limited in the 2015 Andaman Sea crisis. Member countries have admitted that this is not good enough anymore.”
“The mechanism announced today provides a vital avenue for the Bali Process to make a difference in responding to mass displacement. Ministers Bishop and Marsudi, as Co-Chairs, should be commended for showing leadership in reinvigorating the Bali Process and driving improvement in national and regional contingency planning. Their task now is to continue to advance more active and resilient regional architecture in the management of mass displacement.”
More information about Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration at: www.cpd.org.au/intergenerational-wellbeing/asia-dialogue-on-forced-migration/
LINK TO SYDNEY MORNING HERALD STORY.