Formally established in 2017 in partnership with UNHCR the MENA CSND includes over 150 members and supporters from across the Middle Eastern and North African region. It is unique in its geographic scope and in its diversity of members, working on displacement issues and promoting regional dialogue.
The MENA CSND works as a multi-stakeholder coalition to share information, coordinate action, and amplify the voices of civil society in favour of the protection and assistance of displaced persons, and in support of host communities.
The network aims to allow for cross regional joint advocacy to positively influence public narratives and displacement related policy making. Since its establishment the regional network has since gained significant momentum towards becoming a key actor on the regional stage for discussing and addressing displacement issues.
The MENA CSND envisages a region that respects and implements policies related to displacement and refugees that are based on international and regional human rights instruments, responsibility sharing, supporting host communities and social cohesion; and where partnerships to respond to protection and assistance needs are inclusive.
The MENA CSND works together to widen the protection and assistance space for displaced persons and refugees in a more effective and comprehensive manner and support host communities, in partnership with all interested parties in agreement with international law for human rights, international humanitarian law, relevant regional laws, and customary international humanitarian law.
UNHCR MENA has served as a catalyst and convener for the MENA CSND. Embracing the “whole of society” approach championed by the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, UNHCR MENA convened eight consultations with more than 200 representatives from civil society in 2016, leading to the network’s formal establishment in 2017. In addition to sponsoring regional convenings and dialogues, UNHCR facilitates the participation of network members in regional and global processes on refugee protection to provide opportunities for new voices to be heard.
“Congratulations to the MENA Civil Society Network for Displacement…we need you; the people of MENA need you; and the displaced and the refugees need you. We count on your powerful voice that speaks on behalf of the people. And we count on [civil society] here in Jordan, Lebanon and other parts of the region to not only continue to uphold the hospitality and protection of millions of refugees and displaced, but also to promote innovative approaches.”
- UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi, MENA Regional NGO Consultations, June 2019
The MENA CSND is guided by the 'whole of society' approach embedded in the Global Compact on Refugees, affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018, which sets out the parameters for stronger solidarity and responsibility-sharing, based on multi-stakeholder partnerships and stronger emphasis on host community support.
The Compact sets out a new model of cooperation and practical arrangements to translate these principles into action, to be undertaken in accordance with the multi-stakeholder, “whole of society” approach which involves “national and local authorities, international organizations, international financial institutions, regional organizations, regional coordination and partnership mechanisms, civil society partners, including faith-based organizations and academia, the private sector, media and the refugees themselves”.
This is in recognition of the fact that the protection of displaced persons and refugees and the support to host communities is a shared responsibility, only by governments and international organizations, but by the society as a whole.
The first Global Refugee Forum (GRF) held in December 2019 was a monumental step towards implementation of the GCR. The GRF was the largest-ever gathering on refugee matters, bringing together some 3,000 participants from diverse segments of society, including States, the private sector, civil society, faith-based organizations, sports entities, humanitarian organizations, development actors, academia and critically refugees themselves.
It led to an historic set of commitments and pledges ranging from financial support to offers of places for employment, educational opportunities for refugee children, new government refugee policies, long-term solutions such as resettlement, investments in clean energy and infrastructure, and enhanced support for host communities and countries.
MENA CSND members participated in a series of Splotlight Sessions during the forum highlighting the way in which the 'whole of society' approach has been advanced in the region. Several members and supporters made pledges at the forum, the implementation of which are critical steps towards operationalizing the principles of the Compact.
Membership in the MENA CSND is open to interested civil society actors from the region who are committed to advocating for the rights of refugees and displaced persons. Non-members can also be participants and supporters of network activities and convenings. To express an interest in becoming a member or supporter, or to find out more information please contact us.Contact us