Long-term and durable solutions for refugees

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Refugees rely on three sustainable solutions:

• Native integration

• resettlement

• Voluntary repatriation

They offer them the opportunity to rebuild their lives, to live in peace and dignity.

Durable solutions are an important part of the refugee system because they help refugees gain protection or rights. They must be considered defensive weapons.

Refugee protection should not be divided into what happened before and after RSD. There should be no distinction between refugee protection and long-term solutions. They must be seen as mutually reinforcing: durable solutions are critical to the protection of all refugee rights under refugee and human rights legislation, and protection is the goal of sustainable solutions that safeguard refugee rights.

Traditional refugee protection issues and long-term solutions need to be integrated into a broader approach to refugee protection.

In international refugee law, there are no legal rights to long-term solutions; they are not rights per se and are left to the discretion of States. This creates difficulties because while the international community must embrace long-term solutions as "answers" to the refugee problem, key components of these solutions remain weak.

A broad framework for long-term solutions should be built on the following principles:

1. Treat long-term remedies as a form of protection

This is such an important concept that it has to be the foundation of the framework (foundation) and goals (i.e. principles). Traditional refugee protection must go hand in hand with long-term solutions.

2. Adhere to the concept of human rights non-discrimination.

Different remedies may apply in different situations, but any different treatment must be justified and in the best interests of the refugee. Non-discrimination must be practiced throughout the refugee process.

3. Commitment not to restrict human rights.

The goal should always be complete protection. Refugees should not be subject to unreasonable or disproportionate restrictions on their human rights because of their refugee status.

4. Balancing national interests and refugee needs

This is part of the purpose of the framework, but also needs to be included as an objective (i.e. a principle) because it can serve as a guide for finding answers. A better approach to achieving appropriate long-term solutions appears to benefit countries, local host communities and refugees.

5. Put the welfare of refugees first.

Refugee protection must be prioritized when full compliance with Principle 4 is impractical and a choice must be made between national interests and refugee needs.

6. Involve refugees in finding and implementing long-term solutions

Refugees should have a say in how their cases are resolved, while not only respecting their autonomy and uniqueness, but also empowering them to increase the likelihood of a good outcome. Best practices for giving refugees a voice must be found on a case-by-case basis.

7. Think of long-term solutions as a non-hierarchical toolbox

No, prior preferences should guide actions and alternatives in the current sustainable response for each scenario. All options must be considered in order to find the most suitable and durable solution in a given situation.

8. Choose the most appropriate response for each situation

Consider as many special functions and traits as possible and deal with them according to principles. This will involve at least integrating a gender, age and diversity approach into all solutions-seeking initiatives, as well as other perspectives on refugee vulnerability and specific situations.