Thirty years after the original Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, the “Cartagena +30”consultation is taking place across Latin America. FUNDEPS is contributing to the writing of the Cartagena +30 Academic Declaration, which will outline the position of the academic sector with regard to the situation of refugees in the region.
The commemorative process aims to strengthen the legal framework of protection for refugees at an international level. Amongst the additions proposed by the FUNDEPS Human Rights team are the need to consider emerging reasons for people to seeking refuge, such as environmental issues; the inclusion of gender perspective in regional documents; and the importance of creating links between the academic sector and civil society, in order to put knowledge to practical use.
The concept of “refugee” came into use after World War II, with a view to granting international protection for people who, fearing persecution on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, adherence to a social group or political opinions, have to leave their own country or who cannot take refuge in their country’s protection. The 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and subsequent 1967 protocol, adopted by the United Nations, legislates refugee status at an international level.
The Cartagena Declaration was signed by a group of Latin American countries in 1984, following a series of Central American conflicts which had created large numbers of forced migrants. This declaration was not only important in Latin America, but also marked a change at international level in extending the critera by which a person could be considered a refugee, including internal conflicts, foreign intervention, violence, major human rights violations and other circumstances which severely disrupt civil society. These were added to the reasons for which a person can receive international protection and humanitarian aid.
30 years after this landmark declaration, the goal of the Cartagena + 30 process is to draft discussion documents outlining the region’s progress, challenges and opportunities; to facilitate discussions at a subregional, governmental, civil society and academic level; to establish the political support of Latin American governments and to identify possible partners from regional institutions and from civil society. It also aims to establish a committee of experts who will act as consultants for the commemorative process and to secure support from donors and other sources of revenue. All this will culminate in a comprehensive report which will be presented to ministers at a commemorative event. This event will conclude with the adoption of a new declaration and a plan of action.
The forerunners of Cartagena +30 are two documents, one adopted in 1994 and the other in 2004: the San José Declaration on Refugees and Displaced Persons and the Mexico Declaration and Plan of Action to Strengthen the International Protection of Refugees in Latin America.
FUNDEPS is actively contributing to the Cartagena +30 Academic Declaration, together with local universities, professors and academics. This declaration will be presented at the end of October at the Universidad Católica de Santos in Brazil. The Academic Declaration is one of the documents bringing together information and outlining regional challenges and opportunities, which will be presented at the ministerial summit.
Translated by Hayley Wood