On 11 June 2019, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Turkey are introducing the Turkish version of the Handbook for Parliamentarians titled “A guide to international refugee protection and building state asylum systems”, which was co-published with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The Turkish version of the Handbook is both timely and relevant today as Turkey, with a comprehensive legal framework and policy, continues to be home to the largest refugee population in the world – over 4 million persons.
The number, complexity and protracted nature of today’s conflicts have resulted in unprecedented levels of global displacement. An estimated 25 million of the over 70 million globally displaced people around the world are refugees. Only ten countries, including Turkey, host close to two-thirds of the world’s refugees. Around 80% of those fleeing their country as refugees find protection in the neighbouring ones, where the governments are often challenged to manage the impact of a nearby conflict by adapting their national asylum system.
Motivated by the need to address these challenges, the Handbook aims to inform parliamentarians about the founding principles and obligations of international refugee law, and mobilize their support for establishing and maintaining fair and effective national asylum systems in line with international standards. It also sets out applicable international legal standards and obligations for refugees and others in need of international protection in a way that is both as accessible and as comprehensive as possible.
A particular focus of the Handbook is to help States establish and maintain laws and policies to respond to the arrival of asylum-seekers and refugees in an effective and prompt manner. These goals are essential for governments to be able to identify people in need of international protection, and to ensure that people who have been forced to flee conflicts and persecution can continue to seek and enjoy asylum in line with the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. More specifically, the Handbook outlines the steps to be taken to establish fair and effective asylum systems as well as protection-sensitive entry systems that would regulate mixed movements of people, respect the rights and dignity of refugees, and address specific needs and diverse protection concerns. It also identifies strategies to promote greater tolerance and respect for refugees and asylum-seekers, as well as to support durable solutions for refugees and others in need of international protection.
Protecting those who are forced to flee and supporting the countries that shelter them is a shared responsibility that must be borne more equitably and predictably. The Global Compact on Refugees, affirmed at the end of 2018, recognizes the primary responsibility and sovereignty of States while adding that a multi-stakeholder and partnership approach needs to be pursued in line with relevant legal frameworks and in close coordination with national institutions. In this framework, parliamentarians and legislators have an important role in achieving the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees by devising national legal instruments and promoting awareness and social cohesion in their constituencies.