For the first time ever, UN member states agreed to an all-encompassing global compact to better manage international migration, address its challenges, strengthen migrant rights and contribute to sustainable development.
After more than a year of discussions and consultations among member states, local officials, civil society and migrants, the text of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was finalised last Friday (July 13).
Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the agreement, calling it “a significant achievement.”
He said it reflected “the shared understanding by governments that cross-border migration is, by its very nature, an international phenomenon and effective management of this global reality requires international co-operation to enhance its positive impact for all. It also recognises 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 all aimed at facilitating safe, orderly and regular migration, while reducing the incidence and impact of irregular migration.”
Calling it a “historic moment” General Assembly President Miroslav Laj?ák, spelled out the Compact’s potential.
“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,” he stressed.
“It can guide us from a reactive to a proactive mode. It can help draw out the benefits of migration and mitigate the risks. It can provide a new platform for co-operation. And it can be a resource finding the right balance between the rights of people and the sovereignty of States.
“In December it will formally become the first comprehensive framework on migration the world has ever seen,” he said.
Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed drew attention to issues 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 said.
Louise Arbour, Special Representative for International Migration, asserted 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 said.
The agreement will be formally adopted an Inter-governmental Conference, in Marrakesh, Morocco, on December 10 and 11. Arbour will be Conference Secretary-General.
“This is not the end of the undertaking but the beginning of a historic new 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 recognised migration is always about people. The migrant-centred approach adopted with the commendable guidance of co-facilitators from Mexico and Switzerland and the Special Representative to the Secretary-General on International Migration, is unprecedented,” the IOM chief said.