Photo: Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration Conference Site, Bab Ighli, Marrakech, Morocco © UN Photo/Mark Garten - Photo: 2018

European Parliament Hails the Global Compact for Migration

By Robert Johnson

BRUSSELS (IDN) – Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) regret “the campaign of disinformation” that has led to several countries withdrawing their support from the United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). They emphasize that the migration compact is a non-legally binding framework that does not create new obligations for states and is in full respect of the principle of national sovereignty.

164 out of the 193 member states of the UN that had gathered in Marrakech approved the Compact by consensus on December 10, defying the United States and other countries that had withdrawn, citing concerns about migrant flows and national sovereignty.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the Compact that creates a “roadmap to prevent suffering and chaos” a historic move. Speaking at the opening intergovernmental session, Guterres said that the Compact provides a platform for “humane, sensible, mutually beneficial action” resting on two “simple ideas”.

“Firstly, that migration has always been with us, but should be managed and safe; second, that national policies are far more likely to succeed with international cooperation.”

The UN chief said that in recent months there had been “many falsehoods” uttered about the agreement and “the overall issue of migration”. In order to dispel the “myths”, he said that the Compact did not allow the UN to impose migration policies on Member States, and neither was the pact a formal treaty.

It is the first global multilateral framework to enhance international coordination on human mobility covering all aspects of the migration cycle. It is based on the principles of partnership, shared responsibility and the understanding that no country can address the challenges and opportunities of this phenomenon on its own.

The importance of the compact lies in the fact that today, there are over 258 million migrants around the world living outside their country of birth. This figure is expected to grow for a number of reasons including population growth, increasing connectivity, trade, rising inequality, demographic imbalances and climate change.

“Migration provides immense opportunity and benefits – for the migrants, host communities and communities of origin. However, when poorly regulated it can create significant challenges. These challenges include overwhelming social infrastructures with the unexpected arrival of large numbers of people and the deaths of migrants undertaking dangerous journeys,” says the UN.

In September 2016 the General Assembly decided, through the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, to develop a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

The process to develop this global compact started in April 2017. The pages in this section detail 18 months of consultation and negotiation, and provide the relevant documentation for each of the events. On July 13, 2018 UN Member States finalized the text for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. (Text is available in all official languages).

The European Parliament is convinced that it is central to find long-term solutions to address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement. Implementation of the compact therefore must go hand-in-hand with implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as ensuring increased investment in developing countries.

The European Parliament strongly believes that international cooperation on migration must be people-centered and rights-based. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which celebrates its 70th anniversary today – must be at the core of migration governance alongside existing international law obligations, such as the Refugee Convention,” the Parliament said.

Vulnerable groups and people in vulnerable situations, notably migrant children and unaccompanied and separated children, should get special attention, the Parliament added.

Complying with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and ensuring the best interest of the child must be the primary considerations of all decisions and actions concerning them.

Promoting gender equality and women empowerment should be central to GCM, as should be paying special attention to victims of violence and abuse, including sexual or gender-based violence, and of human trafficking, notes the European Parliament.

The European Parliament stresses that “it is absolutely essential to turn the compact’s commitments into reality,” with strong follow-up and review mechanisms, including the International Migration Review Forum which is to take place every four years beginning in 2021. The implementation process of the global compact must be transparent and inclusive, involving all stakeholders, and notably parliaments and national human rights institutions, says the European Parliament.

A strengthened parliamentary dimension and public engagement are key to ensure accountability and serve as a bridge towards a broader dialogue on migration that leads to evidence-based policies and political narratives that counteract xenophobia and recognize the need for international cooperation on migration to ensure the benefit of all parties involved.

A nine-Member European Parliament delegation participated at the Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakesh as part of the overall EU delegation. The Parliament has closely followed the processes leading to the UN Global Compacts on Refugees and on Migration, through plenary and committee debates, inter-parliamentary meetings, fact-finding missions and, in April 2018, the adoption of a plenary resolution on the Global Compacts adopted by a large majority. [IDN-InDepthNews – 11 December 2018]

Photo: Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration Conference Site, Bab Ighli, Marrakech, Morocco © UN Photo/Mark Garten

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