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Statement delivered by Prime Minister of Denmark at United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants plenary session on September 19 in New York

19.09.2016  23:01

©UN Photo: Amanda Voisard

(check against delivery)

Mr. Chair, Excellencies,

We are gathered to join forces. For all of us to look for answers to the complex challenges we are facing.

Denmark takes global responsibility. We spend 0.7 percent of GNI on development assistance. In the EU, Denmark takes more than our fair share of asylum seekers. And Denmark is consistently among the top-5 humanitarian donors per capita. Other countries are encouraged to do the same. Together we must act.
It is my firm belief that the best way to deal with today’s enormous refugee and migration challenge is to prevent that violent conflicts arise in the first place. Prevent that people are forced to take up long and dangerous journeys.

Displacement entails unbearable human suffering. It also puts pressure on local communities receiving people in search of protection or a better future. That goes for the countries that host many refugees. It is essential to balance the needs of the local populations with the need of refugees and migrants. Millions worry that the pressure of migration will make their community collapse. We must listen to them as well.

The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants is an important step forward.

I would like to underline three central principles:

Firstly, we must operate in an international framework founded on human rights. We must preserve the obligation of providing protection to refugees. And we must distinguish between migrants and refugees. If we do not join forces to deal with illegal and irregular migration, we are putting at risk our international regime for protection. The refugee convention is intended for those in real need of protection.

Secondly, root causes of refugee and migrant movements must be addressed through peace building and long term development. This is the only long term solution.

Thirdly, all states have a sovereign right to decide who to admit to their territory. And all states must live up to their obligation to readmit their own nationals. If they do not, fewer people in actual need of protection will get support. We stand ready to use all relevant foreign policy tools to help countries live up to this obligation.

For 2016 and 2017, Denmark intends to increase humanitarian assistance to record levels of more than 350 million dollars annually. Already this fall we expect to add 80 million USD to help refugees from Syria, Iraq and communities in the neighboring countries as well as other places like Libya where many are fleeing conflicts. We will help host countries manage and cope with the large burdens.

And we will support countries of transit to fight trafficking and smuggling of human beings. We must put the migrant smugglers out of business.


We must join forces to achieve the goal of well-managed migration and protection of refugees. Because we wish to preserve our ability to assist those in real need of protection.

Thank you.