Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Global Compact for Migration completed

19 July 20180 comments

More than 190 countries have finally agreed on an historic global compact to promote safe and orderly migration and reduce human smuggling and trafficking – but the US and Hungary were not among them.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak and many other supporters hailed the first global document to tackle the migration issue.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is not legally binding. It will be formally adopted at a ministerial meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, on December. 11 and 12.

In September 2016, all 193 UN member states, including the United States under President Barack Obama, adopted a declaration saying no country can manage international migration on its own and agreeing to launch a process leading to the adoption of a global compact in 2018.

But last December, the United States said it was ending its participation in negotiations. A statement from the US Mission to the United Nations said numerous provisions of the declaration were “inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies” under President Donald Trump.

Louise Arbour, the UN’s special representative for global migration, said the compact is a framework “to eliminate unsafe, disorderly migration” and an agreement among nations to cooperate. She said most countries agree that well-managed migration produces good results.

She said the major hurdle was addressing “illegal migration” because many countries just want migrants to go home.

Ms Arbour said references to “illegal migrants” are pejorative, noting that people who don’t pay taxes aren’t called “illegal taxpayers.”

She said that the compact refers to “irregular migrants” and said that such people should never be criminalised.

The compact has 23 objectives that seek to boost cooperation to manage migration and numerous actions ranging from technical issues like the portability of earnings by migrant workers to reducing the detention of migrants.

Mr Guterres called the agreement “a significant achievement.” At a news conference, he stressed the contribution of migrants to the global economy, calling them “a remarkable engine for growth.”

According to a UN estimate, there are 250 million migrants around the world.

And a McKinsey study cited by Mr Guterres said that “they make up 3 percent of global population but contribute 10 per cent of global gross domestic product”.

Mr Lajcak said he hoped the compact will change the way the world looks at the migration issue — just as the UN goals for 2030 that also aren’t legally binding have mobilized the world to tackle poverty, promote development and preserve the environment.

“We still have 192 countries that agreed on the text of the compact, and we keep the door open for the United States to come back,” he said.

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) welcomed the completion of the compact as an important milestone that will improve international cooperation on migration.

“This is not the end of the undertaking but the beginning of a new historic effort to shape the global agenda on migration for decades to come,” IOM’s Director General William Lacy Swing said.

“States approached negotiations in an admirably positive spirit of collaboration with a view to how they would like to see migration policy, practice and cooperation evolve over the years, rather than as a reaction to one crisis after another as it often seems,” he said.


Laurie Nowell

Senior Journalist