In January, WFM International President Lloyd Axworthy, along with three other former Foreign Ministers, met with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The following is his description of the meeting.
“On Friday I met with the New UN Secretary-General António Guterres in the company of Madeleine Albright and other colleagues from the Aspen Ministerial Group, David Milliband and Knut Vollebæk.
We had the opportunity to have an open exchange with him and other senior UN officials on refugee issues, a subject that the Ministerial Group has been working on the past year. The Sec-Gen focused on how important it is that the UN takes the lead in working out a preventative strategy for solving the conditions that generate the movement of people seeking security, food and water and basic rights. He clearly saw that the best way to offset the antiimmigration politics rampant in so many countries is to demonstrate concrete, collaborative action, and reform.
One of the ways is through reform of UN practices and policies. He particularly pointed out that in the case of Syria the major burden is being borne by the neighboring states like Jordan and Lebanon, with very few other states sharing responsibility. The UN must take the lead in organizing a more equitable global response. There was also a dialogue on the application of new digital technology in the registration and service delivery of existing refugees, and how there can be greater participation of refugees themselves in finding innovative ways to meet their needs.
It was certainly the conclusion of our group after the meeting that Secretary-General Guterres will bring leadership and dynamism to his challenging task, but will also need strongly committed support to counter the inward looking nationalisms that undermine international efforts to meet global problems.”
And in May, Dr. Axworthy was announced as the chair of the World Refugee Council, which will provide research into new approaches for dealing with the global refugee crisis. The Council will be coordinated through the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).