On 22 October 2018, APSOR brought together 104 representatives from refugee-led organisations, networks and communities residing in 10 host countries in the Asia Pacific region to discuss and plan for greater refugee participation in policy- and decision-making. This was the first opportunity of its kind for refugee leaders in the Asia Pacific region to come together to share experiences, network and discuss how to strengthen refugee self-representation at all levels (locally, regionally and internationally). The Asia Pacific Summit of Refugees followed on from discussions that took place in Geneva in June 2018 at the inaugural Global Summit of Refugees (GSOR). One of the key recommendations coming out of this Global Summit was for an “inclusive international platform for refugee participation and self-representation” to be established, “made up of a representative network of refugee community organisations, initiatives and change-makers from around the world”. In working towards the establishment of a representative international refugee-led advocacy network, a proposal was developed to hold regional-level discussions. The Asia Pacific region, through APSOR, was the first of these regional-level discussions.
Both Summits recognise that the inclusion of refugees in policy- and decision-making is important in acknowledging and facilitating refugee agency and self-determination. With personal experience in situations of displacement, refugees are well placed to offer practical and sustainable solutions. Refugees can be powerful agents of change, evidenced through their capacity to take charge of building local communities and filling gaps in services and assistance. These Summits also recognise that a major challenge in enabling refugee self-representation at an international level is the lack of opportunities for refugee representatives to come together and work collaboratively on areas of shared concern. This is particularly so in the Asia Pacific region, where many refugees reside in host countries where they have uncertain legal status, limited access to resources, and restrictions placed on mobility that mean travelling to international gatherings is not possible. For these reasons, the Summit trialled connecting people through video hubs to enable groups to connect from different host countries.
The objectives of the Asia Pacific Summit of Refugees were to:
1. Facilitate the sharing of experiences and information about what is happening in refugee-led advocacy in different parts of the Asia Pacific region
2. Share information with refugee leaders in the Asia Pacific region who were not involved in the Global Summit of Refugees about the lead-up and current planning for an international refugee advocacy network
3. Plan for future collaboration at a regional level for refugee-led organisations, networks and advocates based in the Asia Pacific.
Full report here.
Report by Asia Pacific Network of Refugees