The Global Compact for Migration was adopted this week by representatives from 164 governments at an international conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, in a move UN Chief AntÃ³nio Guterres said was the creation of a “roadmap to prevent suffering and chaos”.
Speaking during the opening session he said the Compact provides a platform for “humane, sensible, mutually beneficial action” resting on “simple ideas”.
“Firstly, migration has always been with us, but should be managed and safe; secondly, national policies are far more likely to succeed with international co-operation.”
The UN chief said in recent months there were “many falsehoods” spoken about the agreement and “the overall issue of migration”. To dispel the “myths”, he said the Compact did not allow the UN to impose migration policies on Member States and the pact was not a formal treaty.
“It is not legally binding. It is a framework for international co-operation, rooted in an inter-governmental process of negotiation in good faith,” he told delegates.
The pact would not give migrants rights to go anywhere, reaffirming only fundamental human rights, he said challenging the myth that developed countries no longer need migrant labour, saying it was clear “most need migrants across a broad spectrum of vital roles.”
Acknowledging some States decided not to take part in the conference or adopt the Compact, the UN Chief expressed a wish they will come to recognise its value for their societies and join “this common venture.”
The United States did not endorse the Compact and more than a dozen other countries either chose not to sign the accord or are still undecided.
Marrakech Compact, reality vs myth
Moroccan minister of foreign affairs, Nasser Bourita, banged his gavel to announce adoption of the Compact, while outlining the various efforts his country made to bring about global consensus on international migration.
Along with climate change, unregulated migration is a pressing issue. Every year, thousands of migrants die or go missing on perilous routes, often victims of smugglers and traffickers.
Guterres welcomed global support for the pact, saying for people on the move, “voluntary or forced; and whether or not they have been able to obtain formal authorisation for movement, all human beings must have their human rights respected and their dignity upheld.”
The adoption of the pact, now known as the Marrakech Compact, coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document central to the pact. Guterres said “it would be ironic if, on the day we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we consider migrants are to be excluded from the scope of the Declaration.”
After the adoption, the UN chief told journalists that “it was an emotional moment” for him when he saw “the members of conference unanimously in acclamation” to adopt the Compact.
It was fitting the conference is taking place in Marrakech, Morocco, a major migration route for centuries. UN data shows globally more than 60,000 migrants died on the move since 2000, prompting the Secretary-General to call it “a source of collective shame.”
UN senior migration official Louise Arbour, tasked with overseeing the process, applauded the adoption, calling it “wonderful occasion, a historic moment and a great achievement for multilateralism.”
She congratulated Member States working “hard to resolve differences, to understand the complexities of all questions related to human mobility for the last 18 months.”
Arbour, the UN Special Representative for International Migration, said the Compact “will make a positive impact in the lives of millions – migrants themselves, the people they leave behind and the communities that will host them.” She said this will depend on implementation of the Global Compact’s initiatives.
“˜Go it alone approach’doesn’t work: Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the adoption saying it was high time the international community came to a more realistic understanding over global migration.
She warned the “go it alone approach will not solve the issue,” stressing multilateralism is the only possible way forward. She admitted her country – which has already welcomed more than a million migrants and refugees in recent years from countries such as Syria – will need more skilled labour from outside the European Union and has a vested interested in legal migration. She also reaffirmed Member States must tackle illegal migration and commit to effective border protection to prevent human trafficking.
“States cannot accept traffickers are the ones deciding who crosses into countries. We must settle such matters among us”, Merkel said.