Global Compact for Migration: has it failed?

By Diogo T. dos Santos

Last Thursday, April 25, ECEPAA attended the conference “Global Compact for Migration: Controversy and Media” at the Press Club Brussels Europe. The talk was on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration non-legally binding agreement adopted by most UN Member States in December 2018, in Morroco.

However, not every country was in accordance with the objectives of the agreement. Though it had more of a symbolic nature, the five countries that voted against and twelve abstained ones had perhaps something in common.

What is the Global Compact for Migration?

It would have been an inter-governmentally negotiated agreement of non-binding nature to comprehensively and holistically comprehend all fields of international migration. Such an agreement was an opportunity for ameliorating the governance on migration, approaching major issues of the recent circumstances migrates face around the globe.

[…] judgement about ways of securing borders and on the criteria for admitting legal residency or granting citizenship is among the pillars of a country’s sovereignty not subject to international instruments.

The 23 objectives for international migration

The process of mediation between the member states ended up in twenty-three (23) objectives:

  1. Collect and utilise accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies
  2. Minimise the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin
  3. Provide accurate and timely information at all stages of migration
  4. Ensure that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation
  5. Enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration
  6. Facilitate fair and ethical recruitment and safeguard conditions that ensure decent work
  7. Address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration
  8. Save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants
  9. Strengthen the transnational response to smuggling of migrants
  10. Prevent, combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration
  11. Manage borders in an integrated, secure and coordinated manner
  12. Strengthen certainty and predictability in migration procedures for appropriate screening, assessment and referral
  13. Use migration detention only as a measure of last resort and work towards alternatives
  14. Enhance consular protection, assistance and cooperation throughout the migration cycle
  15. Provide access to basic services for migrants
  16. Empower migrants and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion
  17. Eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration
  18. Invest in skills development and facilitate mutual recognition of skills, qualifications and competences
  19. Create conditions for migrants and diasporas to fully contribute to sustainable development in all countries
  20. Promote faster, safer and cheaper transfer of remittances and foster financial inclusion of migrants
  21. Cooperate in facilitating safe and dignified return and readmission, as well as sustainable reintegration
  22. Establish mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements and earned benefits
  23. Strengthen international cooperation and global partnerships for safe, orderly and regular migration.

The Ones Against

United States, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, and Israel were the ones against the Global Compact for Migration. Some of them posed their reasons and drew our attention.

The representative of the United States clarified their position by explaining that the goals and objectives of the agreement were “inconsistent and incompatible” with American law and policy, stressing on the idea that judgement about ways of securing borders and the criteria for admitting legal residency or granting citizenship is among the pillars of a country’s sovereignty irrespective of international instruments.

Can these acts be considered nationalist, being taken by populist governments?

Poland, in the same line, affirmed that the Global Compact is not the correct instrument for handling the migration phenomenon, turning out not to serve the best interest of the nation and its people. Polish government, therefore, maintains the sovereign position as for restringing the admission of non-nationals.

To what extent do international decisions affect a country’s sovereignty?

Israel’s prime minister had already instructed their foreign minister that the agreement should not be signed, justifying the act given that they have a committed duty to protect their borders “against illegal infiltrators.”

The Ones Abstained

The ones abstained were Austria, Australia, Algeria, Bulgaria, Chile, Singapore, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Switzerland, Libya, Liechtenstein. Some of them call ECEPAA’s attention given the role they play in Europe in the migration decisions and discussions.

Austria, for instance, affirms that the human right to migrate is not included in their legal order, and that the distinction of a legal or illegal migrant, which was assumed to be “clear” in the country, would be ruined with what the agreement poses.

Italy, more briefly, decided that a postponed discussion had been already scheduled for a parliamentary debate precisely on the Global Compact for Migration. For that reason, therefore, they also abstained from the agreement.

Has it failed, then?

Well, as a matter of fact, it would be nonsensical to assume that such an agreement would have failed with 152 countries voting for it, regardless of its non-binding aspect. It is clear that the international community, as a whole, is inclined to act in accordance with international instruments.

However, some of the countries that were either against or abstained from the Global Compact for Migration have important international and, more specially, European roles. Italy is considered one of the point of access for migrants who come through the Mediterranean Sea. Such an abstentions of theirs might suggest that there is still reluctance to the migration issue. If you add Hungary, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Romania to the equation, one is able to view that the division on migration policies reform is still present.

Naturally, ECEPAA attempts to cope with the responsibilities of integrating European citizens through its projects, researches and active work between partners from all over Europe.

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Sources:
https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/nine-eu-members-stay-away-from-un-migration-pact/
https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Migration/Pages/GlobalCompactforMigration.aspx
https://www.lifegate.com/people/news/world-refugee-day-action-against-hunger
https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/ga12113.doc.htm
https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-wont-sign-global-migration-pact-netanyahu-announces/