The Global Compact on Refugees and Conflict Prevention in Africa: ‘Root Causes’ and Yet Another Divide

Marina Sharpe

International Journal of Refugee Law, 2018


This brief article acknowledges that the Global Compact on Refugees may ameliorate refugee protection in Africa because its objectives—easing pressure on host countries, expanding third country solutions, enhanced refugee self-reliance and supporting conditions for return in safety and dignity—address the main protection challenges on the continent, namely: (a) limited resources coupled with the scale of the refugee problem; (b) violations of refugee rights; and (c) the frequently protracted nature of refugee situations. The compact also contains specific commitments to concretize its objectives. However, the author contends that even if States deliver on their Refugee Compact commitments and the instrument achieves its overarching objectives, this will not transform refugee protection in Africa, because the compact does explicitly address the need for conflict prevention. While the compact covers ‘prevention and addressing root causes’, it does not specify the precise nature of root causes. The author argues that to eliminate root causes, particularly those in Africa, conflict prevention must be mainstreamed in the implementation of the Refugee Compact, including by disaggregating the inherently imprecise notion of ‘root causes’ and through effective collaboration between humanitarian and peace actors.