Photo: Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (l), stands with ambassadors Juan José Gómez Camacho of Mexico (c) and Jürg Lauber of Switzerland (r), co-facilitators of negotiations on the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, at UN Headquarters in New York, 13 July 2018. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten - Photo: 2018

Global Compact on Migration Agreed Despite Differences

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK (IDN) – When Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the agreement an all-encompassing Global Compact to better manage international migration, address its challenges, strengthen migrant rights and contribute to sustainable development, calling it “a significant achievement” and General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák described it as a “historic moment,” it was far more than a rhetorical posture aimed at giving themselves a pat on the back.

Though, the Global Compact presents a non-legally binding, cooperative framework, it is the first time ever that the text of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration has been agreed after discussions and consultations among member states, local officials, civil society and migrants themselves, spread over more than one year.

The text was finalized on July 13 irrespective of the fact that “even delegates who took vastly different positions, could find a way to respect and listen to each other,” as the outgoing General Assembly President Lajčák noted. “I believe humanity always got the upper hand. And this is exactly why we created the United Nations – and why we gave it an organ like the General Assembly. In here, all Member States are on equal footing. All issues, and matters, can be dealt with. And all voices can be heard.”

Besides, the Global Compact which will be formally adopted by Heads of State and Government at an intergovernmental conference on December 10-11, 2018 in Marrakesh, Morocco, has been agreed at a crucial point in time.

2098 migrant deaths have been recorded since negotiations began. Children made up about 400 of them. Many, not reported, have been lost in the desert or on other dangerous journeys. Others – including countless women and girls – have fallen victim to human trafficking. And, as the text of the agreement was being discussed thousands of migrant workers were worried “about their health, their security and the welfare of their families.”

“At the same time, migration continues to be used as a political tool – on all sides of the spectrum. Often, this is based, not on facts, but on political interests,” Lajčák pointed out.

Spelling out the Compact’s enormous potential, Lajčák said: “It does not encourage migration, nor does it aim to stop it. It is not legally binding. It does not dictate. It will not impose. And it fully respects the sovereignty of States.”

Instead, he continued: “It can guide us from a reactive to a proactive mode. It can help us to draw out the benefits of migration, and mitigate the risks. It can provide a new platform for cooperation. And it can be a resource, in finding the right balance between the rights of people and the sovereignty of States.”

Guterres said the agreement reflects “the shared understanding by Governments that cross-border migration is, by its very nature, an international phenomenon and that effective management of this global reality requires international cooperation to enhance its positive impact for all. It also recognizes that every individual has the right to safety, dignity and protection.”

“This comprehensive framework comprises a range of objectives, actions and avenues for implementation, follow-up and review,” added the UN chief, “all aimed at facilitating safe, orderly and regular migration, while reducing the incidence and impact of irregular migration.”

Firmly rooted in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the commitments made in the New York Declaration, this will be the first global agreement designed to better manage international migration in all its dimensions, for the benefit of all States and communities, and with the rights of all migrants at the fore.

On September 19, 2016, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The New York Declaration reaffirms the importance of the international refugee regime and contains a wide range of commitments by Member States to strengthen and enhance mechanisms to protect people on the move. It has paved the way for the adoption of two new global compacts in 2018: a global compact on refugees and a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

In adopting the New York Declaration, Member States:

  • expressed profound solidarity with those who are forced to flee;
  • reaffirmed their obligations to fully respect the human rights of refugees and migrants;
  • agreed that protecting refugees and supporting the countries that shelter them are shared international responsibilities and must be borne more equitably and predictably;
  • pledged robust support to those countries affected by large movements of refugees and migrants;
  • agreed upon the core elements of a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework; and
  • agreed to work towards the adoption of a global compact on refugeesand a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

UN’s Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, drew attention to the profound issues that migration raises, such as sovereignty and human rights; around what constitutes voluntary movement; the relationship between development and mobility; and how to support social cohesion.

“This compact demonstrates the potential of multilateralism: our ability to come together on issues that demand global collaboration – however complicated and contentious they may be,” she pointed out.

Louise Arbour, Special Representative for International Migration, asserted that as human mobility will always be with us, “its chaotic, dangerous exploitative aspects cannot be allowed to become a new normal.”

“The implementation of the Compact will bring safety, order and economic progress to everyone’s benefit,” she underscored.

“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,” Director General of the UN migration agency, IOM, William Lacy Swing said.

“Throughout the process, UN Member States have clearly recognized that migration is always about people. The migrant-centred approach adopted with the commendable guidance of co-facilitators from Mexico and Switzerland, and of the Special Representative to the Secretary General on International Migration, is unprecedented,” added the IOM chief. [IDN-InDepthNews – 15 July 2018]

Photo: Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (l), stands with ambassadors Juan José Gómez Camacho of Mexico (c) and Jürg Lauber of Switzerland (r), co-facilitators of negotiations on the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, at UN Headquarters in New York, 13 July 2018. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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