Pact to facilitate safe, regular migration backed by 164 countries

In a bid to protect the rights of migrants and curb irregular migration, 164 of 193 United Nations (UN) member states signed The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration on 10 December 2018 in Marrakesh, Morocco.

As the first international document on migration management, the pact, also known as the Marrakesh Compact, outlines 23 objectives which cover the creation of opportunities for regular migration, the prevention of irregular border crossings and the promotion of ethical labour standards for migrant workers, among other issues.

Highlighting what he considers to be the overriding goal of the pact, António Guterres, the UN General Secretary, has described it as a “roadmap to prevent suffering and chaos.”

A senior migration official from the UN, Louise Arbour, stressed the pact’s potential to “make an enormous positive impact on the lives of millions of people – migrants themselves, the people they leave behind and the communities that will then host them.”

Nevertheless, not everyone welcomed the agreement. Several countries withdrew from the compact, including the United States, Austria, Australia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Slovakia and the Dominican Republic. More states, including Israel and Bulgaria, have expressed the possibility that they may quit the deal.

Guterres addressed some of the states’ concerns at the conference in Marrakesh, underlining that the non-binding pact will not compromise national sovereignty and that it will not be used “to impose migration policies” on member states. He added that, instead, the pact represents “a framework for international cooperation, rooted in an inter-governmental process of negotiation in good faith.”

Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, also insisted that the pact seeks to prevent, rather than encourage, irregular migration. “This is about safe, orderly and regular migration,” she stated. She also cautioned that the “go it alone approach will not solve the issue,” stressing that multilateralism is the only way forward.

Many regional and international humanitarian organisations hailed the pact as an important step towards protecting migrants. UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, said the pact could help provide better access to education and health services for migrant children and protect them from exploitation and violence.

However, concerns were raised in the third sector regarding the fact that the pact is not legally binding. The president of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) warned: “if we are serious about fixing this problem, [the pact] should at the very least be ethically binding.”

The UN General Assembly is set to adopt a resolution that will officially endorse the pact as an official UN document on 19 December 2018.

TMP – 18/12/2018

Photo: UNDESA/twitter. Marrakesh, Morocco – December 10, 2018: Venue where the conference was held.