The First Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration meeting was held in Melbourne.
Dialogue members are from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia, as well as the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration.
Dialogue members will meet in person at least six times over the next three years, with the first three meetings to take place in Melbourne, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Discussions will be conducted under the Chatham House Rule.
Dialogue members have come together to discuss improved policy responses to those forms of migration within, and into, the Asia-Pacific region, which are proving the most difficult for governments to manage. These migratory movements involve people in the most vulnerable of circumstances and raise complex challenges within national communities – the movement of asylum seekers, refugees and trafficked persons.
Dialogue members believe any discussion of ‘forced migration’ must cover, to a greater or lesser extent, related issues such as protection, durable solutions, irregular migration (whether by land or sea), economic migration, migrant smuggling, trafficking, statelessness and displacement. When considering these issues, Dialogue members will look at the capacities, policies and standards and regional structures necessary to respond more effectively.
Ultimately, improved policy responses can only come from governments. New responses at the national level require better understanding of, and insights into, the issues. They also require a commitment to better policy and law and greater investment in data and implementation capabilities.
Effective regional responses to forced migration must flow from a commitment from governments to improved consultative and decision-making mechanisms and, most of all, a sense of mutual trust.
Dialogue members believe no country in the region can unilaterally and satisfactorily address the escalating challenges posed by forced migration. They require regional cooperation, shared responsibility and distributed capacities.
Dialogue participation may change and grow. Broader engagement with individuals and organisations from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia will be sought over time, as well as new members from civil society, other countries in the region and international organisations operating within it.
By meeting regularly, Dialogue members will seek to cultivate collaboration and creativity, forge deeper regional perspectives, develop trust and build commitment to the overall process. Where appropriate, ideas generated will be submitted to individual governments and regional organisations.
The Centre for Policy Development (CPD) is convening the Dialogue, with support from the Sidney Myer Fund, Planet Wheeler Foundation, Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, Corrs Chambers Westgarth and individual donors.
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