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This week’s annual United Nations gathering of global leaders will bid farewell to the age of U.S. President Barack Obama, an era that began with high hopes for multilateralism but is ending in frustration over the world’s inability to solve some of the most intractable problems from Syria’s civil war to the most acute refugee crisis since World War II.In a poignant sign of the limits of international cooperation, U.N Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday will jump-start the session with a summit to tackle a refugee and migration crisis that has displaced more than 65 million people — and to coax countries around the world into accepting more of them. The initial idea was modeled on the landmark Indochina refugee conferences of 1979 and 1989, which resulted in the resettlement of several hundred thousand Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Laotian refugees. The same, some U.N. officials hoped, could be achieved for refugees in the Middle East and North Africa.

But governments have been unwilling to agree on any bold commitments for the Monday summit’s final document, the so-called New York Declaration. Early last month, a U.N. proposal to have governments pledge to annually resettle just 10 percent of the world’s 21 million refugees was dropped. Instead, the 25-page document’s high-minded, if somewhat vague, invocations to aid those most in need fall short of concrete targets and solutions, and governments will be asked to go back to the drawing board for another two years.

“My God, can’t we do anything more of significance as the international community?” said Joel Charny, founding director of the U.S. branch of the Norwegian Refugee Council. “We were promised something groundbreaking. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it amounts to very much.” Read more…

By Colum LynchColum Lynch is Foreign Policy’s award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. Lynch previously wrote Foreign Policy’s Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media., John HudsonJohn Hudson is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy covering diplomacy and national security.

  • September 18, 2016; foreignpolicy.com

By Colum Lynch. Colum Lynch is Foreign Policy’s award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. Lynch previously wrote Foreign Policy’s Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media., John Hudson. John Hudson is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy covering diplomacy and national security.

 

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