MARRAKECH, Morocco, 10 December — World leaders adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration today, laying out the first-ever global cooperation framework for sharing responsibility to protect the world’s 258 million people on the move — 3.4 per cent of its population — and supporting the host communities working to accommodate them.
Gathered in Marrakech for the two-day Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, senior Government officials, along with partners from civil society, the private sector and migrant communities discussed opportunities for partnership.
“This Global Compact expresses our collective commitment to improving cooperation on international migration,” world leaders declared in the 31-page outcome document, acknowledging that migration affects countries, communities, migrants and their families in different and sometimes unpredictable ways. “It is crucial that the challenges and opportunities of international migration unite us.”
The Global Compact, contained in document A/CONF.231/3, establishes shared principles and a unity of purpose to guide Member States and others in addressing the needs of the largest numbers of migrants since the Second World War. Along with the Global Compact on Refugees, it fulfils commitments laid out in the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The General Assembly will consider adopting both global compacts in the coming weeks.
Comprised of 23 objectives — all of which contain a commitment — the Global Compact on Migration outlines actions considered to be relevant policy instruments and best practices alongside measures for implementation, follow-up and review. Commitments centre on the use of data to elaborate policies, minimizing the drivers of mobility, providing accurate information, ensuring proof of legal identity and enhancing the availability of legal pathways for migration.
Its guiding principles focus on the human dimension of mobility and reaffirm States’ sovereign rights to determine their national migration policies and to govern migration within their jurisdictions. States also can distinguish between regular and irregular migration status. “It is with this sense of common purpose that we take this historic step,” Governments declared through the text.
Notably, the Global Compact establishes a United Nations mechanism allowing Governments and companies to contribute technical, financial and human resources for implementing it. It also renames the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development as the International Migration Review Forum, which will serve as the main platform for discussing progress every four years, beginning in 2022.
“This moment is the inspiring product of dedicated and painstaking efforts,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in opening remarks, describing the Global Compact as a road map to prevent suffering and chaos. While 80 per cent of migrants move between countries in a safe and orderly fashion, unregulated mobility bears a terrible human cost: more than 60,000 migrants have died since the year 2000.
The Global Compact rests on two ideas, he said: that migration should be well managed and safe, and that national policies are far more likely to succeed if coupled with international cooperation. It is not a treaty and does not impose policies on Member States, nor is it a legally binding instrument, he said. Acknowledging that some countries are not present today, he expressed hope they will see the Global Compact’s value and join in this common venture.
Delivering a message on behalf of Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani said there was no better place to host the Intergovernmental Conference than in Africa. “We still have a lot more to do,” he said, recalling that Morocco is a country of origin, transit and destination for migrants, and Marrakech is a cross-roads for all civilizations. He supported common responsibility as a way to stem chaos and ensure that human rights are upheld. “This is a page of history we are writing in Marrakech,” he said, emphasizing that today’s step towards fairer migration should be a source of global pride.
With that in mind, General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés acknowledged that, while negotiations were long and difficult, they were worth it. States must learn from one another to better understand migration. Recalling that 2018 marks the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she said the Global Compact is the best way to pay tribute to that landmark instrument.
“But it doesn’t end here,” said Cheryl Perera, founder of OneChild, an organization that empowers young people to take action against sex trafficking of minors. She pressed Governments to provide young people with a seat at the table in its implementation, follow-up and review. “Invest in us,” she said. “We need to be part of data collection efforts to know the number of young people impacted.”
Rounding out the opening segment, Erol Kiresepi, Chief Executive Officer of Santa Farma Pharmaceuticals, presented the International Organisation of Employers’ Marrakech Declaration, outlining the immediate needs of companies, ways to partner with the private sector and recommendations for Governments. Businesses need more ambitious regulatory frameworks for skills mobility, he said, while Governments need companies to better argue the case for well—designed migration policies.
Throughout the day, world leaders agreed that urgent action is needed to address shifting migration trends. Many welcomed the Global Compact as a way to better manage situations at local, national, regional and global levels, breathing new life into what some described as fraying support for globalization.
Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium, said some had used the Global Compact to propagate lies and arouse fears. The end of the First and Second World Wars offered a ray of hope that universal values go beyond borders and the idea that each bore responsibility and rights as a member of the human community. “This process of cooperation is the only way to build a better, fairer world,” he said.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, said her country will need more skilled labour from outside the European Union and has a vested interest in legal migration. States cannot accept that traffickers are the ones deciding who crosses borders. “We must settle such matters among us,” she said. The “go it alone” approach will not solve the issue; multilateralism is the only way forward.
Many delegates from origin, transit and destination countries agreed, sharing their experiences. María Dolores Agüero Lara, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Honduras, said migration is a right and its good governance can only be achieved through joint efforts. Citing her Government’s initiatives to help returning migrants and those transiting its territories, she said new challenges such as the recent caravan from the northern triangle of Central America call for a rethink of existing measures to ensure that human rights and the best interests of children are protected. Meanwhile, Honduras rejects all rhetoric that uses migration for political ends.
Carlos Castaneda, Minister for Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, agreed. “Under no circumstances can force be justified against any migrants, particularly against women, boys and girls,” he emphasized. As such, his country is open to dialogue to find lasting solutions to meet such challenges.
Marcelo Ebrard Casaublon, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said one thread of the current global political narrative is “flying in the face of what those of us in the room are trying to do” and is portraying migration as a danger that must be avoided by closing borders. “These are two different visions of the future,” he said, calling for collective willingness and resolve to turn the agreement into effectual political action.
“It is possible to defeat cynicism?” he asked. “What if migrants were not criminalized? What if we could open our doors to those who need our help?” The Global Compact represents an open door, allowing society to be different, he observed, stressing that Mexico will defend the agreement.
For its part, Turkey is not trying to prevent migration, but rather to manage it by controlling its land and maritime borders, said Süleyman Soylu, the country’s Minister for the Interior. Recalling that there are 3.6 million Syrians under Turkish protection, he said more than 322,000 tons of assistance has been delivered through 14 Turkish border gates.
Taking a regional view, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Union’s Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said building partnerships with origin, transit and destination countries is a vital element in bloc’s comprehensive migration policy. The Union supports actions both in and outside Europe to protect migrant rights, address the causes of irregular migration, break the business model of traffickers, better manage borders and create the conditions for legal pathways.
Likewise, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chair of the African Union Commission, said migration has led to unprecedented measures and increased anxiety. He reaffirmed the call for a consensus–based response. Noting the recurrent mention of Africa as part of the problem, he said the continent had shown its heart throughout the Global Compact negotiation process, subscribing to consensual solutions whenever possible and showing deep commitment to multilateralism.
At the meeting’s outset, the Intergovernmental Conference adopted its rules of procedure (document A/CONF.231/2). Nasser Bourita, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Morocco, was elected President, with Bangladesh, Ecuador, Gabon, Guyana, Indonesia, Nigeria and the Philippines elected as Vice-Presidents, and Michael Brotherson (Guyana) as Rapporteur-General.
Also speaking in the plenary debate were Heads of State and Government and other senior officials of Panama, Albania, Comoros, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Eswatini, Spain, Greece, Denmark, Monaco, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Philippines, Indonesia, Guatemala, Mozambique, Sweden, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Zambia, Lebanon, San Marino, Rwanda, Finland, Luxembourg, Ireland, Qatar, Cabo Verde, Malta, Côte d’Ivoire, United Kingdom, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Lithuania, Niger, Paraguay, Burundi, Guyana, South Africa, Montenegro, Nigeria, Netherlands, Venezuela, Tunisia, Brazil, Haiti, Saint Lucia, Serbia, Guinea, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Suriname, Algeria, Malawi, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Kenya and Sudan, as well as the Holy See.
NASSER BOURITA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Morocco and President of the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, outlined various national efforts undertaken to bring about a global consensus. “We have spared no effort to undertake our responsibility” as a leader on the migration issue and in defending the principles of common responsibility and consensus on migration, and combating smuggling of refugees and migrants, he said, noting that the Government had, among other things, convened four conferences in that regard.
Morocco is aware of the importance of the migration issue and the reality of States’ interdependence, he said. Migration is not confined to any one country or region, but affects all countries. This Conference to adopt a historic Global Compact culminates a process begun in 2016 with the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. It also marks a commitment taken by the international community to overcome a major global challenge, he said, adding that it is a call for action and for harmony between State interests and migrant rights.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, United Nations Secretary-General, said this Conference marks the inspiring product of dedicated and painstaking efforts. “You are here because you recognize the importance of this Compact as a road map to prevent suffering and chaos, and to provide cooperation strategies that will benefit all,” he said. “But, there have been many falsehoods about the agreement and the overall issue of migration. So let me begin by dispelling a few myths.”
The Global Compact is not a treaty and is not legally binding, he said, addressing a myth that the agreement will allow the United Nations to impose migration policies on Member States, infringing on their sovereignty. Rather, the Global Compact is a framework for international cooperation, rooted in an intergovernmental process of negotiation in good faith, which specifically reaffirms the principle of State sovereignty, including the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law. Turning to more examples of false myths, he said South-South migration is in fact larger than South-North movements of people, and developed countries actually need migration. On the latter issue, he said that, in places where fertility is declining and life expectancy is rising, economies will stagnate and people will suffer without migration.
“So let us move from myth to reality; that is precisely what the Compact does,” he said, highlighting that, while more than 80 per cent of the world’s migrants move between countries in a safe and orderly fashion, unregulated migration bears a terrible human cost. “More than 60,000 migrants have died on the move since the year 2000. This is a source of collective shame. And of course, behind every number is a person, a woman, a child, a man, who simply dream for what any of us dream ‑ opportunity, dignity and a better life.”
Whether their movement is voluntary or forced, he said, all human beings must have their rights respected. To deny this is the road to dehumanization and horror. “We must not succumb to fear or false narratives,” he said. Societies are stronger, more resilient and enriched, not threatened, by diversity, which must be nurtured as a way to counter the current groundswell of racism and xenophobia. The Global Compact rests on two simple ideas ‑ that migration has always existed and, in a world where it is ever more inevitable and necessary, it should be well managed and safe, not irregular and dangerous, and that national policies are far more likely to succeed with international cooperation.
Elaborating on these ideas, he said the Global Compact aims at assisting migrants, their communities of origin and host nations while recognizing the importance of remittances from a development perspective. Indeed, funds migrants send home represent triple the amount of public development assistance and 85 per cent of their income is spent in their new communities. It also emphasizes a need to establish legal ties that open job markets and combat trafficking and exploitation.
Migration should be an act of choice, not of desperation, he said, adding that the Global Compact proposes a framework for development strategies in countries of origin. Moreover, it considers the voice of women and girls, who make up half of the world’s 260 million migrants, while offering measures to prepare for imminent challenges, including the movement of people affected by climate change, and is based on the principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Along with the Global Compact on Refugees, he said, the Global Compact for Migration provides a platform for humane, sensible, mutually beneficial action.
“It is true that some States are not with us today,” he said. “I can only hope that they will see the Compact’s value for their own societies and join us in this common venture.” Welcoming the overwhelming global support for the Compact, he said: “Let’s work together for a safer, less fearful and more prosperous future for both our own societies and for the world’s migrants. That means for us all.”
MARÍA FERNANDA ESPINOSA GARCÉS, President of the General Assembly, said the Intergovernmental Conference is proof of the validity of multilateralism as the most effective tool to deal with one the world’s most pressing and significant challenges. International migration has always existed and there are no people in the world that have not been affected by it. No one leaves behind their family or land without a powerful reason, such as war or climate change. Hence, migrants are brave, entrepreneurial, but above all, are human beings.
Today, she said, the international community is putting a human face on migration and must learn from one another to better understand migration and its challenges. The Global Compact is a guide and an instrument with a range of standards and a reference point for public policy in the domain. It is also a response to a reality the world can only address together. As migration is a cross—border and global phenomenon, the Global Compact represents a common vision to put an end to xenophobic discourse that may led to tragedies that the world does not want to experience again. Moreover, it is a flexible instrument that can meet the needs of every country and stimulate joint cooperation at all levels.
The Global Compact does not affect the sovereignty of any State, but rather strengthens it, she continued. No State can respond alone to the challenge of migration. Acknowledging that negotiations towards the Global Compact have been long and difficult, she said they were worth it, as they have brought the international community to this point. Recalling the seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she said adopting the Global Compact on Migration is the best tribute the world can pay to that landmark text.
Indeed, the fundamental rights of migrants is more important than ever before, she said. The Compact puts migrants at the heart of action and deals with the root causes of migration. It also helps the international community work together in a coordinated fashion to combat human smuggling. As migration will continue to occur and change the world, it is essential to have a common guide book, which is exactly what the Global Compact provides.
CHERYL PERERA, founder of OneChild, said the world is home to 1.8 billion young people, all of whom share a hope to lead happy prosperous lives. So they cross roads, borders, deserts and oceans in pursuit of higher education, better and decent work, personal development or marriage — or sadly, because of disasters, political instability, violence and poverty. She wondered about the fate of the 30 million children forced from their homes by violence, the 3 million who are stateless, the 1 million detained today because of their migration status, and those who comprise one third of trafficking victims.
Recounting a visit to Sri Lanka, where she partnered with the National Child Protection Authority in an undercover operation, she said the investigation led to the arrest of a man posting on a child pornography site, who spoke in graphic detail about sexual services he wanted from her. “That experience opened my eyes,” she said, recalling that she founded OneChild with a group of friends to empower children and youth to take action against sex trafficking of minors through education, advocacy, survivor care and empowerment. OneChild was the first non-governmental organization to lobby the private sector in Canada to take action against child trafficking by engaging Air Canada, airports, hotels, travel agencies, tour operators and consulates. They raised funds to build a massive rehabilitation centre for 80 rescued girls in a major hotspot country.
“My story is a testament to the vulnerabilities of migrant children, but it also shows how young people are leading the solution,” she said, noting that 160 young people are in Marrakech today to plan powerful measures to implement the Global Compact. The accord offers a historic opportunity for States to meet their obligations to protect every child. They must address the underlying risks for forced and unsafe migration, including climate change, inequalities and social and political exclusion. They must once and for all end immigration detention, stop criminalizing migrants, keep families together and ensure migrant children stay healthy and in school. “Engage us,” she said. “Provide youth a guaranteed seat at the table” at all levels in carrying out the Global Compact. Invest in young people’s participation and include them in data collection. “We must do better together.”
EROL KIRESEPI, Chief Executive Officer of Santa Farma Pharmaceuticals, said that the private sector has a three—pronged stake in well—regulated migration frameworks: to fill skills shortages, ensure social stability and contribute to the protection of the most vulnerable migrant workers. Nearly everywhere, businesses face skills and talent shortages. By 2030, lost economic opportunities could cost trillions of dollars, while the global manufacturing industry alone could experience a deficit of almost 8 million workers.
Continued access to the right skills and experience is one of businesses biggest concerns and investing in talent acquisition and skills development is a priority, he said. In this context, migration policies that are too restrictive hamper growth. If skills are not available locally and hiring talent from abroad becomes too costly, companies cannot compete and create new jobs.
Expressing firm support for the Global Compact, he then presented the International Organisation of Employers’ Marrakech Declaration, which outlines the immediate needs of companies, ways of partnering with the private sector and recommendations to Governments. Companies need more ambitious regulatory frameworks for skills mobility and Governments need the private sector to better argue the business case for well—designed migration policies, he said, also calling for the United Nations to engage with legitimate corporate organizations, which understand the realities on the ground and can advise and act accordingly.
SAAD—EDDINE EL OTHMANI, Prime Minister of Morocco, delivering a message on behalf of King Mohammed VI, said there was no better place to host the Intergovernmental Conference than in Africa. Recalling that Morocco is a country of origin, transit and destination, and Marrakech a place where all civilizations meet, he said it was with great pride that his country is hosting the milestone event. “We still have a lot more to do,” he said, noting that the Intergovernmental Conference coincides with the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, when the world recognized the universal aspects of human rights, regardless of culture or nation. Today, the world is adopting another global agreement, regardless of divisions, borders and continents, under United Nations leadership.
States must set in place global, practical and responsible policies, he said. The Global Compact’s vision aims at balancing the voluntary aspects and the legal interests of States, with respect for the human rights of migrants. A pioneer on the migration issue within the African Union, which adopted its own Agenda for Migration in January 2018 at the African Summit, Morocco’s vision goes hand in hand with that of the international community, calling for creative solutions to border management, while upholding migrants’ rights. The global vision reaffirms collective responsibilities and respects the principle of responsible sovereignty.
However, migration must not become a security issue, nor fall prey to any punishment, he said. The security aspect should not be used as a justification to erode migrants’ rights or exacerbate their vulnerability, nor as a means to hamper mobility. Instead, security issues should be seen as a lever for promoting migrant rights in line with the 2030 Agenda. History will be the judge. “We have challenges to overcome,” he said, and the Conference must explore the international community’s ability to overcome them. He advocated for respect for the sovereignty of each State to roll out and implement national policies. Countries must also prioritize dialogue to find constructive solutions, as no one can grapple with the challenge alone.
The Global Compact is not an end in itself, he said. It must be implemented in a practical manner. The Marrakech Conference is a call for work and action. Emphasizing that Africa does not accept being on the sidelines, he said it will be a key player and has already implemented a migration agenda, established a road map and considered all aspects of the phenomenon. It has also established an observatory to work on the issue, whose role the Global Compact reaffirms. He called for cooperation at all levels among migration bodies, while stressing that States must also listen and respond to young people. He supported common responsibility as a way to stem chaos and ensure that human rights are upheld. “This is a page of history we are writing in Marrakech,” he said, emphasizing that the international community’s new step towards fairer migration should be a source of global pride.
The Conference then adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (document A/CONF.231/3).
JUAN CARLOS VARELA RODRÍGUEZ, President of Panama, said migration is a challenge facing all countries and the Global Compact lays the foundation for continuing the conversation within the United Nations. Panama, because of its geographic location, has been at the front lines of the issue, he said, lamenting the migrants who have lost their lives crossing the land between his country and Colombia. This has strengthened his commitment to fight to ensure that countries can manage migration in an orderly manner while respecting human beings. The Intergovernmental Conference is particularly relevant as there is a need for a common approach to manage migration in all of its dimensions. Member States must share information to prevent the entry of those presenting a risk to State security. At the same time, border checks are needed to ensure security, but also the decent treatment of migrants. Panama has been able to do this in a safe and orderly way. Member States must also tackle the root causes that bring people to leave their countries in the first place, while exchanging experiences and perspectives. The Global Compact opens up a multilateral dialogue on how the international community can address migration challenges while respecting human dignity. For its part, Panama is committed to promoting peace, dialogue and prosperity.
ILLIR META, President of Albania, said all countries are affected by migration. As it is a very difficult and complex process, only in partnership can the global community address the phenomenon. Migration is also about human rights, border management, financial costs, social cohesion and sovereignty. The international community must not be weakened by human mobility. Instead, it must be empowered to establish a more humane, dignified and secure mechanism to govern migration. The Global Compact should not be seen as encouraging migration, but as a road map recognizing that respect for international law, national sovereignty, rule of law and border management are fundamental to successfully dealing with all aspects of this phenomenon. For its part, Albania is working closely with neighbouring countries to address challenges and has recently signed a status agreement with the European Border and Coastguard Agency.
AZALI ASSOUMANI, President of Comoros, said the Global Compact is a “robust and sensible” response to the issue of migration, reflecting the commitment of his country to multilateralism and the United Nations Charter principles. It must be implemented pragmatically, responsibly and selflessly. Noting that his Government coordinated the African position and acted as spokesperson in intergovernmental negotiations in New York, he called for the Global Compact’s rapid implementation, notably by strengthening State capacity, especially of countries of origin. Aspects related to partnerships, dialogue, cooperation and financing reflect major challenges and provide suitable responses for creating a favourable environment — all in synergy with the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.
Welcoming the creation of a capacity-building system, he said a two-year process was required to arrive at today’s outcome. The Global Compact offers a panoramic vision on migration, taking globalization into account and underscoring the importance of collecting, disseminating and providing access to information on related opportunities and difficulties. Migrants’ contributions to major emerging economies need no further proof. They must be seen as contributing to development in countries of origin, while participating in wealth creation in host countries. He expressed regret that some countries had withdrawn their support, despite that the Global Compact seeks to mitigate structural factors preventing people from living in their countries of origin. It also seeks to protect migrants by making migration safe, orderly and regular, he said, expressing support for collective efforts to carry out its ambitious objectives. He awaited consultations in 2019 that will define the organizational aspects of the International Migration Review Forum to ensure a robust follow-up on the Global Compact.
JULIUS MAADA BIO, President of Sierra Leone, said globalization had fostered population movements and shifts — some voluntary, some involuntary, some tentative and some permanent. He called on States to honour their responsibility to guarantee social progress for humankind. Sudden or slow but persistent movements of populations are often driven by conflict, climate change, poverty or perceived economic opportunity. Transit, destination and host communities of sudden migrant flows fear a loss of security. While some view globalization as a threat to social cohesion, others view it as an opportunity for migrants and host communities alike. Sierra Leone has experienced “all ends of the problem”, having sustained a protracted conflict and lived as neighbours of those embroiled in such violence, he said. As an origin and destination country for refugees and displaced persons, Sierra Leone understands the rationale for host country antagonism. He commended host nations for ensuring that the safety and dignity of migrants are fully considered in the Global Compact. Unless addressed, irregular migration will continue to foster trafficking, discrimination, violence and inhumane treatment and result in the death of migrants. It would also hold the potential for social upheaval in host countries.
Today’s unanimous endorsement of the Intergovernmental Conference’s outcome document, he said, will be invaluable in addressing the drivers of irregular migration, preventing unlawful migration and ensuring a path for beneficial movements for migrants and for origin, transit and destination countries. In line with the African Union road map, Sierra Leone was scaling up investments in education, health care and food security. It was lowering regulatory and legal barriers to investment, making tax regimes predictable and operating a new, disciplined public management system. Sierra Leone needed investment and trade, not aid, he said. For its part, the Global Compact is a milestone in the history of the global dialogue and international cooperation on migration.
JOSÉ MÁRIO VAZ, President of Guinea-Bissau, said the Global Compact meets major strategic objectives and will be a great landmark in the history of the United Nations. Promoting and strengthening existing agreements are not enough. Today, the international community must account for the realities of the time and move on to action to demonstrate a collective ambition. The goal is to design a suitable and systematic response to meet the challenges migration flows present. However, that response must also consider the experiences of migrants, who often find themselves in distress after taking great risk, he said, adding that the Mediterranean Sea, in particular, has been a dark theatre of human tragedy. To address such concerns, the international community must manage flows of migration and protect refugees’ lives. For its part, Guinea-Bissau, being a land of migration, fully supports the Global Compact’s principles, he said, highlighting his Government’s commitment in 2017 to provide safe conditions for 10,000 refugees and delivered on that promise.
ANGELA MERKEL, Chancellor of Germany, welcomed the distinction made between flight and migration that led to the creation of two distinct global compacts to be adopted by the General Assembly in December. On the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is a positive sign that the international community is dealing with the millions of migrants on the planet, reaffirming that human rights apply to everyone. The Global Compact is about safe, orderly and regular migration and that goal can only be achieved through multilateral cooperation. It is high time that the international community deals with the issue of migration, a natural phenomenon that happens all the time. Germany is familiar with the concept of freedom of movement, including for employment, which creates prosperity for all. In that context, her country will need more skilled labour from outside the European Union and has a vested interest in legal migration. Yet, in the framework of legal migration, many people are still facing indecent conditions.
The Global Compact states that Member States must tackle illegal migration and clearly commit to border protection to prevent human trafficking, she said. It also addresses the re-admission of nationals illegally residing in another country. States cannot accept that traffickers are the ones deciding who crosses borders. “We must settle such matters among us,” she said. The “go it alone” approach will not solve the issue; multilateralism is the only possible way forward. To fight against illegal migration, opportunities are needed. In that vein, the 2030 Agenda is important. If Member States are not able to fulfil these goals, the world will not be able to stop irregular migration. Globalization can only be shaped in a human way when all countries have a fair opportunity to develop. Because of existing disparities in opportunities, fears are exploited by the Global Compact’s opponents, who are spreading false information about the agreement. The international community must remind itself that the United Nations was founded as the result of the Second World War. Due to national socialism, she said, Germany brought unbelievable suffering to mankind. Today, the Global Compact is about the foundations of international cooperation. Member States must fight for the survival of this agreement, not just to provide migrants with better lives, but as a clear commitment to multilateralism.
ANTÓNIO LUÍS SANTOS DA COSTA, Prime Minister of Portugal, said human mobility has been among the most powerful forces for social and economic development. Thousands of years before the age of mass transport, men and women walked great distances in search of brighter futures. Divergences in demographic trends and economic development will continue to make migration a reality. “We should make the best use of that energy” by directing it to the creation of more inclusive societies, he said. Noting that the Portuguese diaspora totalled more than 5 million people, he said migration, if managed wisely, can favour growth and help countries and continents address imbalances in demographic trends.
Migration is a challenge and an opportunity, he said, noting that it should be addressed jointly and globally by strengthening multilateral mechanisms and involving origin, transit and destination countries. Meanwhile, its root causes must be tackled by fighting poverty, promoting development and human rights and fostering cooperation among countries and regions. The Africa-Europe Alliance, in which Portugal is involved, will be a key instrument to achieve such goals. The Global Compact places migrants at the heart of cooperation and allows States to define their national migration policies and protect their own borders. It also creates a framework offering States and non-State actors guiding principles for sharing responsibilities. Expressing support for the Global Compact’s objectives and measures for implementing them, including cross-cutting references to upholding human rights in every circumstance, he said the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will play a key role in coordinating its implementation.
AMBROSE MANDVULO DLAMINI, Prime Minister of Eswatini, said his Government welcomes the opportunity to develop a mutual understanding of the Global Compact, particularly at a time when the movement of people has become necessary and frequent. These discussions are a milestone, outlining the best way to ensure the ethical treatment of migrants as they seek previously unavailable opportunities or refuge from situations that threaten their very existence. The Global Compact presents a non-legally binding framework that builds on commitments made by Member States in the New York Declaration. In addition, it fosters international cooperation and upholds the sovereignty of States and their obligations under international law. It also supports eliminating all forms of discrimination and empowers migrants and societies to realize inclusion.
Eswatini, one of the world’s smallest and most vulnerable nations, is a country of origin, transit and destination, he said. In an expression of its understanding of the African concept of ubuntu, it has never shut its borders and has strived to be an open society. The international community can help to address the development challenges Eswatini faces through the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, both of which recognize that migration and sustainable development are multidimensional and interdependent.
PIETRO PAROLIN, Secretary of State of the Holy See, said the adoption of the Global Compact comes at a critical moment in history. While the majority of migration remains regular, increasing numbers of people are leaving their homes, being constrained by adverse factors. When these challenges are not managed well, crises can form, rhetoric can eclipse reason and migrants can be seen more as threats than as brothers and sisters in need of solidarity and basic services. The Global Compact attempts to assist the international community in preventing tragedies and crises. It also seeks to improve the governance of migration while giving countries the space to respond to their national circumstances and priorities, in full respect of international law and of the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their status. A dignified response to migration must be reasonable, with Governments prudently determining their actual capacity for meaningful integration. Integration is a two-way process, in which migrants should respect the local laws, culture and customs of the country receiving them, while host countries should respect the traditions and cultures of migrants. Through mutual welcoming and prudence, rising xenophobia and racism can be effectively addressed.
PEDRO SÁNCHEZ PÉREZ-CASTEJÓN, Prime Minister of Spain, said that almost 260 million people live in a country different than the one in which they were born, often pushed by a lack of opportunity or sometimes climate change. Migration is not a homogenous phenomenon, but rather the result of a structural reality, requiring short-term measures and a long-term strategic vision. No country can grapple with it alone and working together will lead to a more successful outcome. Emphasizing that migration is a shared responsibility among origin, transit and destination countries, he said the Global Compact represents a qualitative step towards effective multilateralism, taking a shared approach. Highlighting IOM efforts in tackling the challenge, he said Spain will contribute to the balanced implementation of the Global Compact’s 23 objectives.
Citing migration’s positive contributions, he said it helps to fill demographic deficits in destination countries, which are often affected by ageing populations, and fosters development in countries of origin. In Spain, all forms of migration converge ‑ origin, transit, destination and return. In 2019, Spain will host a conference on the link between desertification and migration. Other efforts include introducing a strategic plan for citizenship and a State fund for migrants to be managed by its autonomous communities and municipalities. “Irregular migration is not the path,” he said, as it is often manipulated by organized crime gangs. Highlighting that States have a right to define their own migration policies and to uphold human rights, he cautioned against “nationalist retreats and exclusion”. Appealing to hatred or fear of others only benefits those seeking political gains.
ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Prime Minister of Greece, said the Global Compact, although not legally binding, sets out common principles and commitments on migration and calls for concrete action. Challenges that generate migration movements persist, whether they relate to population growth, lack of education and employment opportunities, extreme poverty, climate change or the effects of wars and conflicts. These global challenges require global responses, which is what the Global Compact is all about. It provides the international community with an agreed set of rules to facilitate cooperation on all dimensions of migration, taking into account receiving capacities and national labour-market needs.
For its part, he said, Greece has experienced emigration of its own citizens and has been a transit country for migrants wishing to reach other European Union member States. It has also been affected by significant mixed migration and refugee flows since 2015. The Greek people have showed the world how to treat people in need with solidarity. Based on this experience, his Government is convinced that understanding the priorities, expectations and concerns of both origin, transit and destination countries is necessary to take a step forward and find effective solutions.
CHARLES MICHEL, Prime Minister of Belgium, said that, over the past two years, the international community conducted negotiations to consider the sensitivities, convictions and hopes that the Global Compact would be a step forward for safe, orderly and regular migration. Yet, some had used the agreement to propagate lies and counter-truths, arouse fears and to encourage selfishness. Recalling political difficulties he faced when some decided to change course and renounce their responsibilities, he said he called on elected officials in Belgium to speak out, which they did in a vote where more than two thirds had chosen to support the Global Compact. Recalling a ministerial shuffle that ensued, he said his presence at the Intergovernmental Conference reflects Belgium’s conviction and support of the agreement.
The Global Compact, he said, respects the sovereignty of States, makes it easier to distinguish between regular and irregular migration, acts as a lever against human traffickers, helps to address the root causes and to make States draft more effective re-admission policies. Belgium also supports the agreement for another reason, he said, recalling a time of war in which the world faced dreadful tragedies and brutal actions that demonstrated distrust among people. The aftermath of the First and Second World Wars offered a ray of hope that universal values stretched beyond borders and the idea that each bore responsibility and rights as a member of the human community. This process of cooperation is the only way to build a better, fairer world with courage to face global challenges. The world is stronger if challenges are addressed collectively. For its part, Belgium has made a choice to be on the right side of history.
LARS LØKKE RASMUSSEN, Prime Minister of Denmark, said migration has historically been a vehicle of prosperity. While only 3.4 per cent of the world’s population are migrants, they produce 9.4 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP). But a dark side of migration has been growing, with millions of migrant workers living and working under horrible conditions in many parts of the world. Irregular migrants set out on deadly journeys to cross the Mediterranean Sea, only to waste years of their lives in limbo in Europe with no legal right to stay. This is why the Global Compact is both timely and needed. Migrants who have been invited must be treated fairly and well, while irregular migrants, who have no legal right to stay, must be effectively and safely re-admitted to their home countries. “Every human being has human rights, but migration is not a human right,” he said. Migration can never be unchecked or uncontrolled. National sovereignty, including over migration policies, is a fundamental premise, which this Global Compact will uphold.
He said Denmark has, for 40 years, devoted 0.7 per cent of its GDP to contribute to development in the poorest parts of the world, so people can see a future for themselves in their own communities and in their own countries. The Global Compact provides a clear and universal confirmation of States’ obligations to re-admit their own nationals, he said, noting that he expected this commitment to be upheld. When the General Assembly adopts the Global Compact in December, Denmark will deliver an explanation of position, clarifying its reading of a number of central elements in the document. The Global Compact does not in any way create new legal obligations for States, does not seek to establish international customary law and does not create any new legal categories of migrants or associated benefits, nor does it restrict well-established human rights.
SÜLEYMAN SOYLU, Minister for the Interior of Turkey, said success will not be found by replacing proxy wars with global wars. “We cannot talk about diplomacy if countries say ‘if you buy weapons from me, I will close my eyes to murder’,” he said, adding that millions of people are displaced, Governments are exposed to severe conflicts, going against their values, especially in Europe, and racism is on the rise. Meanwhile, terrorism and trafficking of both drugs and humans nurtures irregular migration, he said, citing reports that “escaping” Afghanistan costs $1,500, some of it paid to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), with people selling drugs to finance their journey. In travelling to the Aegean Sea, a person might be exchanged among several gangs. Turkey’s Coast Guard uses its full capacity to save irregular migrants. On the road from the Middle East, Turkey is the only destination that will save a person.
Turkey is not trying to prevent migration, but rather, to manage it by controlling its land and maritime borders, he said. Recalling that there are 3.6 million Syrians under Turkish protection, including 612,000 children, and that 385,000 Syrian babies have been born in Turkish hospitals, he said more than 322,000 tons of assistance has been delivered through 14 Turkish border gates. Compared to the first 11 months of 2017, Turkey has increased its seizure of irregular migrants by 56 per cent. More than 53,000 people have been returned from Turkey. While some are trying to free Eastern civilizations from their identity, others are trying to design the world through weapons agreements, he said, reminding delegates that, in November, Da’esh bargained for an oil well. Weapons dealers and terrorists should not be those who secretly design politics. He pressed countries to cooperate and present a long-term strategy for alleviating poverty. Calling for replacing irregular migration with regular migration and allocating the best human resources to do so, he said “it is time to work in the field and act together.”
PATRICE CELLARIO, Minister for the Interior of Monaco, said the Global Compact is a striking illustration of the potential of multilateralism. Awareness of the challenges posed by human mobility is not linked to the size of the State, as it is just as present in Monaco as anywhere else. As the world celebrates the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he urged the international community to remember the principles of human rights and dignity it proclaims. Monaco is particularly concerned about the fate of vulnerable people, including women and children exposed to sexual violence and abuse, welcoming elements of the Global Compact affirming the rights of all children and warning Member States to never let their guard down in tackling modern-day slavery. Meanwhile, migration remains at the heart of economic and development issues, with unchecked migratory flows creating labour market instability. Discrimination in all forms occur against migrants and their families, so in 2005, Monaco passed a law that penalizes hate speech and defamation based on religion, origin or sexual orientation. Looking ahead, the challenge is not to stem migration, but to manage it by promoting legal pathways, he said, adding that the Global Compact provides a balanced framework to manage adverse effects and is the right framework to address related international situations.
GOKARNA RAJ BISTA, Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security of Nepal, said his delegation’s priorities are the Global Compact’s objectives related to decent work, fair recruitment and skills recognition. Other important areas include addressing the vulnerabilities of migrant workers, including women, and reducing the cost of remittances. More than 4 million Nepali people live outside the country and the majority of them are migrant workers. Responding to this reality, his Government has taken several steps locally, nationally and regionally to make migration safe, regular and managed. Nepal is working to reform and streamline policies and laws and has launched new initiatives to ensure better service delivery and fair and ethical recruitment. To meet the Global Compact’s goals, Member States need to work together and involve a wide range of stakeholders, including migrants themselves. Capacity-building is equally important to implement the commitments at national, regional and global levels.
NASSER THANI ALHAMLI, Minister for Human Resources and Emiratization of the United Arab Emirates, said that, as the host of the largest per capita population of temporary migrants in the world, his country is committed to continuing to improve migration governance standards. The Global Compact provides a framework for guiding Member States in identifying priorities and building international cooperation. It provides global objectives, but also allows space for regional variations and national contexts to play their parts. While the Global Compact is a significant achievement, it is just the start of a process and not the end. If the underlying principles continue to be upheld, then the goal of safe, regular and orderly migration around the world can be achieved. For its part, the United Arab Emirates intends to be fully engaged in the agreement’s implementation, follow-up and review processes and remains committed to enhancing the country’s labour-migration governance, consistent with the Global Compact’s objectives.
AHMED HUSSEN, Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada, said his country is proud to adopt the Global Compact, which takes a gender-responsive and child-sensitive approach based on evidence and human rights. Diversity is an integral part of Canada’s national identity, he said, noting that integrated, well-managed migration systems support the social and economic contributions of all migrants. States can make migration safer for all people, especially women, by making it more accessible than dangerous, irregular routes. To address concerns about the increasing numbers of irregular migrants, Canada has committed to reduce the drivers compelling people to leave their countries and will work to cut remittance costs. Recalling that the Global Compact highlights best practices, he said: “We can all use its practical, action-oriented approach to enhance national migration systems.”
In Canada, there is room to improve, he said. The Government regularly evaluates migration system programmes and policies, and will use Compact to plan, develop and evaluate its work. It has developed a pilot programme to improve labour market outcomes and advance careers of minority women. The Migrant Worker Support Network pilot aims at empowering temporary foreign workers while in Canada and help employers to better meet programme requirements. Canada is also improving family reunification by speeding up spousal sponsorships. “This Compact is beyond partisan politics,” he asserted, encouraging all countries to “fight fear with facts”.
DIMITRIS AVRAMOPOULOS, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship of the European Union, said human mobility can only be addressed by the international community as a whole. Building strong and resilient partnerships with origin, transit and destination countries is a vital element in the bloc’s comprehensive migration policy. Its goal is to prevent uncontrolled migratory flows, while working towards better managing global mobility. The value of the Global Compact is in creating a cooperation framework for all States to manage migration together and by improving efforts to do so in full respect of State sovereignty.
The European Union is already implementing actions through its comprehensive migration policy, put in place in recent years, he said. It supports actions both in and outside Europe to protect migrant rights, address the causes of irregular migration, break the business model of traffickers, better manage borders, support sustainable reintegration and to create the conditions for legal pathways. Better managing migration requires action beyond the measures outlined in the Global Compact, as there is a strong link between migration and development. The Trust Fund for Africa, through which the bloc has mobilized €4 billion, is a good example of that link. More broadly, Europe forges equal and strong partnerships to boost investment in jobs, he said, citing the African Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, presented in September, as an example of its commitment to bringing partnerships to a higher level.
TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR., Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said anti–migrant ideologies are on the rise as they were before the Holocaust. Some Member States withdrew from the Global Compact under pressure from their constituencies, which they must respond to in a democracy. While some of the lights are going out in Europe, the bright shining lights of the likes of Germany and France continue to shine in the darkness enveloping the migrant experience. Nevertheless, the Global Compact enjoys near universal support and those not ready to commit recognize a clear need to discuss migration. Migration is a shared responsibility that not one State can address alone. Nor should any State take the lead in determining what can be done about it. It does not undermine sovereignty. While States for the most part can pick and choose which migrants they take in, migrants do not stand on auction blocks. Migrants are not slaves in transport, but free human beings on the move, with courage to improve their conditions abroad. He highlighted the false narratives of migration peddled by those who have benefited from it, but fear too much of it. Without migration, European cities would be cesspools and there would be no World Cup, or the games would be far inferior. Protecting all migrants and treating them with dignity and respect sets a moral standard for the world, not just in the purposes of what goal is to be achieved, but in the civility in which objectives are attained, he said.
MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, Chair of the African Union Commission, said the Conference is being held at a time when migration has led to unprecedented measures being implemented and political challenges are increasing anxieties. He reaffirmed a call for a consensus–based response, as no credible progress can be made outside the commitment of all key players. Noting the recurrent mention of Africa as being part of the problem, he said his continent had shown how great its heart is throughout the Global Compact negotiation process, subscribing to consensual solutions whenever possible and showing its deep commitment to multilateralism.
Migration, as old as the world, has become an emotionally loaded issue, he said. It has become an illegal and even criminalized action. Political instability, economic depression and climate change can characterize entire regions and amplify this phenomenon. Unfortunately, Africa is one example of such a region. Nevertheless, the Global Compact provides hope for effective partnerships that can together address its 23 objectives. Invoking the images of Africans floating in an open tomb in the Mediterranean Sea, he said the stark pictures are unbearable and survivors are treated as beasts of burden, unaware of what awaits them. As tragedies are unfolding, Africa has adopted measured positions to speak with a single voice. While the Global Compact does not embody all of its positions, the African Union accepts them because they are consensual. Nobody is injured, but nobody gains an advantage, he said. He called on Member States to hear the voice of reason and go beyond simplifying the issue of migration and reductive doctrines. While Africa is not free from its responsibilities, the problems are not its alone. Pleading for collective action, he said the continent does not want to build walls and barriers, but rather bridges that bring together elements of shared humanity.
RETNO L.P. MARSUDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, said her country joined the consensus on the Global Compact, a crucial agreement in the face of an unprecedented phenomenon. Collaboration is no longer an option; it is a necessity. Nevertheless, the adoption of the Global Compact is only just the beginning, the implementation of the agreement is key. In that connection, it should serve as a set of guiding principles in the promotion and protection of the rights of migrants, especially migrant workers. Meanwhile, countries must empower migrants to contribute positively to economic development and reduce the push factor of irregular migration. Concerted efforts at the national, regional and global level are necessary to ensure the effective implementation of the agreement. For its part, Indonesia recently passed a law on the protection of migrant workers. Moreover, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) adopted a consensus on migration in 2017 to strengthen the protection of migrant workers. She called for coordinated efforts at the global level, including within the United Nations system, to implement the Compact. “We are ready to work together and hope you are, too,” she concluded.
SANDRA ERICA JOVEL POLANCO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said that given her country’s socio-economic and cultural experience, international migration has always been a part of its dynamic. The Government has attached great importance to the Global Compact and its process, taking into account migration as one of the key areas of the country’s foreign policy. The Global Compact provides an opportunity to recognize how migration contributes to the development of societies. All measures must be taken to ensure that all responses to migration-related concerns are a shared responsibility. Migration must not be criminalized and the rights of migrants must be ensured, she said, stressing the need to recognize the important link between migration and development.
She noted that, along with El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico, Guatemala has recently prepared a comprehensive development plan to deal with the origin, transit, destination and return of migrants. The plan addresses the causes of migration, human rights and other subjects and is being supported by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). She emphasized the importance of preventing trafficking in persons who are migrants. Guatemala is committed to ensuring the rights of its citizens abroad, particularly migrant children, she said. The proper conditions must be created to allow people to live together in peace and prosperity, in peaceful societies based on the rule of law.
BASILIO MONTEIRO, Minister for the Interior of Mozambique, said migration is a development issue that has a tangible impact on both the countries of origin and of accommodation. Moreover, the Global Compact signals States’ commitment to address demographic and economic imbalances, as well as mitigate and adapt to natural disasters resulting from climate change. The agreement is also in line with Sustainable Development Goal 10.7, as well as the African Union Agenda 2063. As such, it should constitute an opportunity to strengthen the rule of law, considering security matters, and making migration beneficial for all. Mozambique has a long history of migration, he recalled, reaffirming his delegation’s unequivocal support for the Global Compact. Geographic proximity, as well as historical, sociocultural and linguistic bonds among Southern African Development Community (SADC) member States make migration unavoidable, he noted. Adopting the Global Compact will create the necessary conditions for the international community to be guided by universal principles on migration, he said, adding that: “We will also be working towards eliminating causes of forced migration.”
HELÉNE FRITZON, Minister for Migration and Deputy Minister for Justice of Sweden, said the Compact marks the end of a historic process. More than two years ago, when world leaders met in New York to discuss how best to address large movement of people, Sweden was in the midst of a migration and refugee crisis. “We were eager to find ways to strengthen global governance and international dialogue”, she said. Two years later, international, regional and bilateral cooperation on migration are needed more than ever. No State can address it alone. Most of the 200 million migrants globally cross borders in an orderly manner, uniting with family or pursuing studies according to national rules. Yet, persistent inequality and the impacts of climate change, among other factors, will continue to make people migrate. There are no signs that migration will decrease and it is important to move away from discussing whether migration is good or bad, or should be stopped. The Global Compact strikes the right balance between the rights of migrants, and those of States to control flows of people into their territories.
CARLOS HOLMES TRUJILLO GARCÍA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, said that great migration movements are not new, but what is new is the speed, volume and intensity of these migratory flows. Given their immediate impact and transnational scale, a response cannot be an improvised one. In the face of a global phenomenon with global challenges, the response must also be global. Colombia has in and out flows of migrants and is also a transit country and country of return, he said. Five million citizens reside abroad, and what is now being seen is an influx of migrants from Venezuela. In addressing this, Colombia has tried to build a model of humanitarian governance in several areas, including on the national level with the provision of services and the regularization of migrants. His Government also wishes to take account of Colombians who want to come back, and to ensure that migrants can contribute to their own development and that of their country. At the regional level, mechanisms will be created in order to adopt consensual measures to respond to the crisis. On multilateralism, he recognized the transnational dimension of migration and was grateful for the help of the international community. Colombia is here today to adopt the Compact because no country by itself is able to address the phenomenon of migration, he said.
RIMBINK PATO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, said that the Compact represents not only the global community’s shared aspirations to stem the tide of irregular migration, but fosters strengthened regular migration because of the diversity of important areas of concern. It may not be the perfect outcome document, he emphasized, but it is a viable pathway for international cooperation. It is a tool that has the potential to harness efforts to enhance human rights protection and promotion, support sustainable development and consolidate peace, stability and security at all levels.
He welcomed that the Compact is non-legally binding and that national implementation of its content is voluntary and a matter for individual countries to decide. As a country that is highly vulnerable to climate change and natural hazards, Papua New Guinea is strongly supportive of the coverage in the Compact on the nexus between migration and climate change, and the importance of mitigation and adaptation requirements.
STEPHEN KAMPYONGO, Minister for Home Affairs of Zambia, said his Government, recognizing the critical role of data in policymaking, is in the process of reviewing its national statistics to support evidence–based policies as provided for in Sustainable Development Goal 17.18, as well as the Global Compact. Zambia has also launched an institute for enhanced e‑governance on, among other things, migration–related data. Its migration management strategy is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and aims to ensure that no one is left behind. Meanwhile, to respond to the transnational nature of human trafficking and smuggling, Zambia has established cross–border coordination mechanisms with neighbouring countries, and developed a national action plan to address mixed and irregular migration. Further, to enhance trade facilitation, Zambia and Zimbabwe pioneered the first–ever one–stop border in Africa at Chirundu, which has been recognized as one of the best practices of integrated border governance in Africa. More broadly, Zambia has created an environment conducive for migrants within its diaspora.
GEBRAN BASSIL, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of Lebanon, said that, if managed well, migration can lead to diversity, wealth and peace. If not, it will result in chaos and strife. Emphasizing the difference between refugees and displaced persons, on the one hand, and migrants, on the other, he said Lebanon insists on the non-binding nature of the Global Compact, with reservations about some of its provisions. Underscoring the “hefty price” that Lebanon – at the crossroads of conflict – has paid for wars fought by others, he said its intake of Palestinian and Syrian refugees demonstrates its high sense of humanity. He stressed the need for the safe, dignified and sustainable return of Syrian refugees to their country, stating that most of Syria today is safe and most Syrians wish to return if they get financial help to do so. Warning that the ideas of the 1930s are making a comeback in Europe, with elections determined by the issue of displacement, he said Lebanon has benefited greatly from the diaspora of its people, who have achieved great things and made the country proud. Lebanon has undertaken several measures to strengthen its bonds with the diaspora, including legislation to restore Lebanese citizenship and enabling them to participate in elections. Lebanon’s migrants have never asked for anything, but they have given a lot to their host countries, he stated.
NICOLA RENZI, Minister for Foreign and Political Affairs and Justice of San Marino, said that migration is a complex phenomenon and there is no compact that can encompass or solve it. Thanks to hard work and hope, today, a milestone has been reached. But, there is still a long way to go. Migration characterizes the very essence and existence of San Marino, he said. During the Second World War, San Marino hosted 100,000 refugees from neighbouring regions. Today, it looks with attention to the present events that are turning the Mediterranean basin into a sad theatre of human suffering.
The effects of migration in San Marino are significant, he said. Since the end of the nineteenth century, large numbers of nationals of all ages have left in search of a better life. It was not easy for those who left or those who remained. The country was unprepared to face this phenomenon with its limited resources. It is for this reason that San Marino knows the value of multilateralism. With multilateralism, it has been able to strengthen its democratic safeguards, promote sustainable development and make its voice heard. Today, San Marino has chosen to make its contribution and celebrate the victory of multilateralism over the challenge posed by irregular migration.
RICHARD SEZIBERA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Rwanda, said that many reports show that international migration takes place between countries in the same region. As a result, it should be recognized as a potential boon to growth, rather than an unsolvable security dilemma. With that said, he highlighted the economic, social and environmental challenges that require attention. Incomplete integration may lead to social strife and violence, he said, emphasizing the need for sound leadership at the national level, as well as international cooperation. Countries need to be able to provide the security and economic stability that people deserve. A world of entrenched inequality is a recipe for uncontrollable migration, while closed borders only complicate the problem.
Experience has shown Rwanda that the benefits of open borders, with the right monitoring systems, far outweigh the challenges and turn migration into an asset, he said. There is a sense of urgency to deal with the conditions that lead some Africans and others to risk their lives and livelihoods by leaving their homelands in desperation, he cautioned. Measures such as the Single African Air Transport Market, Continental Free-Trade Area and a protocol on the free movement of people and goods are a step in the right direction. The dismantling of barriers is aimed at creating more jobs and wealth for the people of Africa and defeating the purpose of unsafe and insecure migration.
KAI MYKKÄNEN, Minister for the Interior of Finland, said that it is not possible to have a world without migration. It has always existed and will continue to do so for economic, demographic, security and human reasons. Migration poses challenges but its positive dimension and potential should not be forgotten. The Global Compact has been the subject of political debate in many countries, including Finland. This is an indication of the need to find a better approach to issues related to migration, he said. It can only be done through international cooperation and it is not possible to have a world where migration would be without control or restrictions.
The Global Compact does not remove the sovereign right of States to decide who can enter their territory, he noted, nor does it endorse illegal or irregular migration. It does not give anyone the right to freely decide where they want to live. At the same time, it is important that all migrants are entitled to the same universal human rights as everyone else. Exactly 70 years ago, humankind recognized fundamental rights to be universal by making a common commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The commitment to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of everyone must be kept, particularly as the world is much more prosperous now than it was 70 years ago, he said.
JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Asylum of Luxembourg, said that his country has supported the Global Compact since the first day of negotiations. Implementation of the agreement requires international cooperation. The Global Compact provides guidance for such cooperation. Erroneous interpretation of the goals in the text, particularly by European countries, is regrettable. Some European States distanced themselves from the Global Compact based on falsehoods. Migration is not a new phenomenon. It is particularly so for his country, which has accepted migrants since the start of the twentieth century. Indeed, 48 per cent of the country’s population is not originally from Luxembourg. The Global Compact can make a difference in the lives of migrants and can serve as a springboard for realizing their full potential. IOM plays a central role and is expected to present road maps to manage crises. It is also crucial to pay due attention to negative drivers that lead to movements of people.
CHARLES FLANAGAN, Minister for Justice and Equality of Ireland, paid homage to the late Peter Sutherland, an Irishman and the former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, who demonstrated leadership to place migration at the centre of the global agenda. The Global Compact provides a strong framework for cooperation as the international community strives to address challenges and advance the 2030 Agenda. In doing so, he urged Member States not to forget countries that have seen a higher increase in migration than other parts of the world, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Jordan, Lebanon, Bangladesh and Turkey, each of which are generously hosting large displaced populations. With a long history of migration, Ireland has a responsibility to play in ensuring that the vision set out in the Compact is advanced. Today, it is benefiting from the economic, social and cultural contribution of the new Irish who have made the country their home. He called for a gender–responsive implementation of the Compact that contributes to gender equality and the empowerment of all migrant women and girls. Moreover, Ireland supports the efforts of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and intends to ratify the Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) in the near future.
MARÍA DOLORES AGÜERO LARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Honduras, said that in adopting the Global Compact, countries affirmed their commitment to take steps that will offer migrants the opportunity to participate in development. Migration is a right and its good governance can only be achieved through joint efforts. Describing Honduras as a country of origin and transit, she noted some of the measures undertaken by the Government, such as the creation of help centres for returning migrants, as well as helping migrants of other nationalities who are transiting its territory. New challenges such as the recent caravan from the northern triangle of Central America call for a rethink of existing measures to ensure that human rights and the best interests of children are protected. She emphasized that efforts will never be sufficient without combating human trafficking, adding that Honduras rejects all rhetoric that uses migration for political ends.
YOUSUF MOHAMMED FAKHKROO, Minister for Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs of Qatar, said the adoption of the Global Compact represents the fruit of years of efforts. He went on to highlight the importance of strengthening international cooperation to regulate migration and guarantee migrant protection. Considering the positive impact of migration, he called for political solutions to crises and conflicts which increase refugee flows. Expressing appreciation for the migration of labourers to Qatar, he said his country stresses the importance of human rights in that regard, which is reflected in its national policies. Qatar will also improve labour legislation and the standard of living of labourers to guarantee a dignified life for those migrants, he emphasized. Moreover, Qatar has supported the voluntary trust fund for intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact, he recalled, noting that it will continue to support cooperation in that regard.
MARCELO EBRARD CASAUBLON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said his country is committed to implementing the Global Compact, having improved its migration policies. Observing that the global political narrative is “flying in the face of what those of us in the room are trying to do”, he called for migration to be regulated from a human rights point of view. By contrast, others are saying that migration is a danger that must be avoided by closing their borders, he noted. “These are two different visions of the future,” he said, calling for collective willingness and resolve to turn the agreement into effectual political action. In Mexico, a recent political change has taken place, he reported, recalling that the overriding principle behind that change is the idea that change is possible. “It is possible to defeat cynicism,” he stressed, asking: “What if migrants were not criminalized? What if we could open our doors to those who need our help?” The Global Compact represents an open door, allowing society to be different, he observed, stressing that Mexico will defend the agreement.
FERNANDO ELISIO FREIRE, Minister of State, Parliamentary Affairs and President of the Council of Minister of Cabo Verde, emphasized the contribution that the diaspora of Cabo Verdeans have made to host countries, adding that their remittances are a principal source of revenue. Noting that Cabo Verde is also a country of destination, and sometimes, transit, he said it is important for migration to be safe and respectful in ways that contribute to development. While the world is living in a time in which migration is generating distrust and populism in some countries, it must be remembered that the South-South dimension of migration outstrips its North-South counterpart. Cabo Verde is resolute to work to address the root causes of irregular migration to ensure that there are opportunities in countries of origin, he said, adding that his Government has a legal and institutional tool kit for recognizing migrants’ rights.
CARMELO ABELA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion of Malta, said that the value of a global agreement on migration cannot be underestimated. As a front-line State, Malta has experienced first-hand the benefits of a regional approach towards migration as opposed to a unilateral one. The Compact will build a new global migration governance architecture that allows for decisive reactions and the collective management of responsible, migratory issues based on the principle of international solidarity.
Migration should be an option, not a necessity, he said. Jobs need to be created and investment facilitated to provide more employment opportunities for people, especially youth, so that they are not forced to abandon their home countries in search of a better future. Malta, therefore, welcomes the commitment included in the Compact to promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the Addis Ababa Agenda, and the commitment to reach the furthest behind first. The Compact has the potential to provide the international community with a fresh approach to governing migration. While it is an ambitious undertaking, the agreed outcome is grounded in reality. It stresses the importance of adopting a holistic approach to addressing challenges and reaping the benefits of migration, he said.
ALLY COULIBALY, Minister for African Integration and Ivorians Abroad of Côte d’Ivoire, said the Global Compact represents a step in the right direction, adding that dialogue remains urgent in that context. Stressing that the agreement turns its back on sterile confrontation and useless invective, he said that short-sighted responses are inspired by irrational fear. As such, his country represents a stronghold of partnership and is adopting the Global Compact without hesitation. Observing that a front of opposition has developed despite the fact that the agreement is not legally binding, he said that this does not erode the process. Adopting the agreement represents remarkable progress, but this is not enough, he said, calling for States to take concrete steps. Six million foreign citizens live in Côte d’Ivoire out of a total population of 23 million. Those migrants are fully integrated into society. As such, his country has already taken important steps towards implementing the agreement, including raising awareness, national dialogue, provisions to ensure voluntary repatriation and the promotion of its diaspora, among other aspects. In that process, Côte d’Ivoire has acquired expertise that it makes available to all parties, he observed.
ALISTAIR BURT, Minister for State for International Development of the United Kingdom, emphasized that the Global Compact is not legally binding. Rather, as the Secretary-General made clear this morning, it will support international cooperation on migration without affection the sovereignty of States to manage their borders and implement migration policies that respond to their national context. “It is in our interest to keep this dialogue going as we move into the implementation stage,” he said, underscoring the agreement’s commitments vis-à-vis people smuggling, human trafficking and modern slavery. He announced that the United Kingdom will provide £1.88 million across five North African countries for the subregional Cooperation on Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons Project that will help judicial officials address both scourges. Going forward, the United Kingdom will put a particular focus on supporting international efforts to collect migration data, improvement the management of migration and deliver on the development potential of economic migration.
TIENDREBEOGO PAUL ROBERT, Minister for Integration and Burkinabé Abroad of Burkina Faso, said the adoption of the Global Compact must now be followed by concrete steps to better protect migration, which is a source of wealth, as well as a vector for development. He called for coordinated efforts to better enjoy the dividends of migration, particularly in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. International cooperation to address root causes of migration must also be strengthened. Ten million citizens of Burkina Faso live outside the country, mostly in West Africa, and they are recognized as major stakeholders in national development. He went on to say that the international community owes it to the thousands of young people, women and children who risk their lives crossing deserts and oceans in search of a better life to turn its commitments into action. Population movement is a universal phenomenon that no one can stop as well as a fundamental human right, he stated.
DAVOR BOZINOVIC, Minister for the Interior of Croatia, said that, today, more than ever before, there is a need to make a clear distinction between refugees and migrants. In that context, he urged the international community to clearly differentiate between regular and irregular migration, while making all efforts necessary to combat the latter. Meanwhile, due to its transnational nature, no one State can efficiently tackle migration on its own, he said, adding that the only solution to the challenge is international, regional and bilateral cooperation and dialogue. It is crucial that the Global Compact be perceived as an expression of joint will in order to begin applying efficient solutions in the face of a global challenge. Noting that his country is grappling with irregular migration and smuggling networks, he said it is precisely in such circumstances that human rights are most violated. Of particular importance to his Government is the provision in the Global Compact that all migrants have proof of legal identity and hold valid travel documents, which would also facilitate repatriation procedures. Despite current challenges, Croatia will continue to protect the Croatian international border, the longest external border of the European Union. Noting that several of Croatia’s neighbours do not accept the Global Compact, he acknowledged that that would impact inter–State cooperation. Nevertheless, Croatia believes the agreement provides an incentive to address the real causes for large migratory movements.
TANIA GRISKIENE (Lithuania) expressed support for the processes that led to the preparation of the Global Compact. Migration is a global phenomenon and therefore requires global measures involving all countries and actors. A people‑centred approach and the protection of human rights, particularly of those in the most vulnerable situations, are the main principles underpinning the Global Compact. Effective border control, implementation of sovereign migration policies and States taking responsibility for their citizens are essential for internal security and State sovereignty. The world is not perfect and neither is the Global Compact. But it could help States to deal with this phenomenon in a structured and well-managed way.
BAZOUM MOHAMED, Minister for State and the Interior of Niger, said his country is one of transit, noting that the Global Compact serves as a framework to strengthen cooperation. His delegation has already begun its implementation, launching a programme for sustainable development to prevent irregular migration. Regarding the illicit smuggling of migrants, Niger has adopted a law to cut it down. It has also established mobile police posts to check migrant movement, establishing cooperation with neighbouring countries. In December 2017, Niger facilitated the return of 3,000 nationals from Libya, he recalled. Moreover, in 2018, more than 15,000 migrants transiting through Niger were assisted by IOM in returning to their countries of origin. In March, his Government convened a meeting allowing 13 countries to establish a coordination mechanism to combat the smuggling and trafficking of persons. Currently, Niger is preparing its national migration policy, which is already at an advanced stage, he observed, pointing out that it is largely inspired by the objectives of the Global Compact.
LUIS ALBERTO CASTIGLIONI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, paid tribute to Morocco for historically accommodating migrants, such as those from the sub-Saharan caravan. The Global Compact will contribute to better coordination and cooperation for managing migration. He recognized the work of delegates and the United Nations in drafting the Global Compact to overcome this global challenge. In the search for new land, Paraguay’s ancestors crossed mountains and savannahs. In his country, people of various religions, including Christians, Buddhists and Muslims, live together in perfect harmony. This is a model to showcase for the world. All States take part in this phenomenon and, therefore, must share responsibility. Closing borders to migrants is contrary to multilateralism and the interdependence of States and it leads to violations of migrants’ basic human rights. There is no better way to pay tribute to the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights than the adoption of the Global Compact. For the first time, there is a clear path to grapple with the problem, which is as old as humankind, he said.
CARLOS CASTANEDA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, said the consensus achieved as part of the Global Compact is historic and unprecedented. His Government has a domestic implementation mechanism and a road map for the short-, medium- and long-term in that regard, involving key sectors including civil society. Efforts already made at the regional and subregional levels — such as the Montevideo Consensus — will be linked to the Global Compact’s implementation, as well. Reaffirming his Government’s commitment to review and follow-up on the agreement, he welcomed the new role accorded to IOM. He expressed regret that the agreement did not include irregular entry of migrants as an administrative action rather than a criminal offense. Moreover, the principle of not detaining migrant adolescents and children was also not included in the text, he observed. Rejecting xenophobia or other measures aimed at criminalizing migration, he also rejected the separation or detention of children.
He went on to recall that, since mid-October, both Honduras and El Salvador have been experiencing a new trend of irregular migration towards the United States. That trend includes many who travel by foot and are exposed to the myriad dangers of the journey, experiencing health problems and assailed by organized crime networks. He called for upholding the human rights of those migrants, ensuring dialogue mechanisms to find alternatives and ensuring that the relevant institutions apply due process. “Under no circumstances can force be justified against any migrant, particularly against women, boys and girls,” he emphasized. As such, his country is open to dialogue to find lasting solutions to meet such challenges. The northern triangle of Central America has been trying to address the root causes of migration and is working with others to bolster efforts. Those countries, along with Mexico, have reached an agreement for a comprehensive development plan to tackle migration throughout the cycle, so that migration becomes an option, not an obligation, he emphasized.
EZÉCHIEL NIBIGIRA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Burundi, said that no one in this conference denies that forced migration is now a global challenge. There has never been a time that so many people are on the move, fleeing conflicts, violence and other fears. The search for the better prospect of life, however, entails considerable risks. Terrifying journeys make headlines. Migrants meet hostility and intolerance. States can be overburdened with a new influx of migrants. Such large movement of people can have huge economic, social and environment impacts. There is a need to shore up efforts and distribute responsibility. The reality is that migration has existed since the beginning of human history and will continue to exist. No country cannot avoid it, and all must enhance cooperation to better manage migration. For the first time, Member States have an international agreement encompassing all dimension of migration, which garnered overwhelming support and consensus, except last-minute withdrawals. The Compact strikes a fair balance between rights of migrants and sovereignty of States. For its part, Burundi has adopted national measures, such as a diaspora policy and steps to reduce negative perceptions of migration.
WINSTON FELIX, Minister for Citizenship, Ministry of the Presidency of Guyana, said that his country — with a diaspora at least as large as its internal population — is well aware of the unique role that migrants can play in transforming societies. Emphasizing that the Global Compact is a non-legally binding cooperative framework of action that rests on core human rights treaties and the Charter of the United Nations, he stated that it will also be crucial for implementing the 2030 Agenda. For developing nations, the importance of partnerships cannot be overstated, he said, adding that his country’s ability to work with those hosting large Guyanese communities will be key to addressing many outstanding challenges, such as lowering the cost of remittances.
SIYABONGA CYPRIAN CWELE, Minister for Home Affairs of South Africa, drew attention to the nexus between migration and development, recalling his delegation’s adoption of the White Paper on International Migration in March 2017. The new international migration policy represents a complete departure from the traditional approach, in which such migration was controlled. The new policy embraces international migration for development while guarding core principles of national sovereignty, peace and security. For migration to be a choice rather than a necessity, the root causes of involuntary migration, such as underdevelopment, have to be fully addressed. In this regard, he urged the international community to collectively commit to addressing the root causes of forced migration as proclaimed in the New York Declaration. Moreover, predictable and sustainable resources must be availed to advance the fundamental principles of international cooperation, as well as responsibility-sharing consistent with levels of development. South Africa accepts the Global Compact as a voluntary tool to guide national implementation, he emphasized, noting that his Government is consulting with all relevant national stakeholders on the agreement’s implications for its national development plan.
MEVLUDIN NUHODŽIĆ, Minister for Interior of Montenegro, portrayed the Compact as a confirmation of the importance of efficient multilateralism in addressing global challenges, bearing in mind the fact that the number of migrants has grown rapidly worldwide. Its adoption will contribute to better management of migration-related issues, but its implementation must acknowledge different national realities, capacities and levels of development. He discussed the variety of ways in which his Government is aiming to better manage the migration process, including legislation to align its asylum laws with European and international standards. He emphasized Montenegro’s strong commitment to regional cooperation and joint action by all countries to address the complexities of securing borders while providing better conditions for those fleeing suffering. The migrant crisis in Europe underscored the need for regional cooperation, a joint response and the sharing of scarce resources, he added.
ABUBAKAR MALAMI, Attorney General and Minister for Justice of Nigeria, said that instead of searching for national peculiarities and differences, the international community should embrace the commonalities to be found in the Global Compact. The fact that the agreement and its 23 objectives is a synthesis of viewpoints should be applauded. Hopefully, it will evolve into – and subsequently be codified as – a legally binding treaty or convention on migration, he said, adding that as a country of origin, transit and destination, Nigeria is committed to promoting and protecting the human rights of all migrants. He went on to emphasize the need to develop coherent approaches to address the challenges of migration induced by climate change and natural disasters, alongside the need for capacity-building and funding to support Member States in implementing the Global Compact.
MARK HARBERS, Minister for Migration in the Ministry of Justice and Security of the Netherlands, said that cross-border problems, such as irregular migration, require cross-border solutions. The Global Compact aims to improve migration management systems within countries, facilitating real dialogue between countries of origin, transit and destination. Both that agreement and the Global Compact on Refugees are fully in line with his Government’s integrated agenda on migration, he observed, noting that the Netherlands will devote even more resources on cooperation to address migration’s root causes. Moreover, it provides for a number of different opportunities for regular migration, including employment, study and family reunification. The Netherlands has further intensified efforts to promote integration of regular migrants, prevent irregular stay and combat exploitation, smuggling and trafficking in persons.
He went on to note that, like other countries of destination, the Netherlands faces an increasing problem of irregular migrants misusing the asylum system. “There’s nothing positive about not being able to return to your home country,” he observed. All States must recognize their obligation to readmit their own nationals, he emphasized, adding that his delegation will continue to work with all to ensure swift, safe and dignified returns. Moreover, together with other European States, the Netherlands will present its assessment of the Global Compact as a legally non-binding instrument in the General Assembly. At the core of that assessment is the recognition of State sovereignty to develop national migration policies, including the right to distinguish between legal and illegal migrants, he said.
JORGE ARREAZA, Minister for People’s Power for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, underscoring the importance of multilateralism, paid tribute to the two years of negotiations that led to the adoption of the Global Compact. The agreement is not perfect, but it offers a minimum framework to manage migration, including the protection of migrants’ human rights. Warning against unilateral measures, he said that the Global Compact should not be selectively interpreted. He condemned the economic and social sectors that discriminate against migrants. He referred to a State that has violated the rights of migrants under the pretext of freedom of expression. Its true crime, he said, is its criminalization or inhumane treatment of migrants. The State put children in cages and separated them from their parents. This is an insult to the international community. In his country, migrants have never been the victims of xenophobia. Venezuela has regularized the status of many migrants from Colombia and other countries. Measures by the United States against Venezuela have generated atypical movements of people, but they are now returning home.
RADHOUANE AYARA, Minister for Migration and Tunisians Abroad of Tunisia, said that today, more than ever, there must be strong foundations for international cooperation on migration, based on facts and not prejudices or preconceptions. Such an approach would make it possible to address the root causes of migration, including the lack of development and poverty in many countries of origin. He also emphasized the need to address outstanding conflicts and prevent new ones, and to reform the global economic order for the benefit of global development. Tunisia is cooperating with its European partners on an agreement that would strike a balance between fighting illicit migration and enhancing the channels of orderly migration. He also underscored the role of European investment in creating jobs in countries of origin.
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ALOYSIO NUNES, Minister for External Relations of Brazil, said that it was opportune that the conference is taking place on the International Day of Human Rights. Migrants cross national borders in search of a safer life or support from their families living outside their home countries. Migration is a free choice, not a choice due to lack of options. States must work for the rights of migrants and they should not be subjected to slavery, arbitrary detention or other violations. Migrants should have access to justice, civil life, freedom of expression and freedom of religion. Brazil has welcomed many migrants from around the world. Most recently, it accepted Syrians, Haitians and Congolese. Meanwhile, 3 million Brazilians live outside the country, he said, expressing hope that they receive the same welcome as migrants who come to his country. Brazil introduced a new migrant law to guarantee migrants are on an equal footing with Brazilians in terms of access to health care, education and other services. Brazil rejects criminalization of migrants, and instead it has policies to regularize their status. Brazil has turned migration into an asset for development and cultural enrichment.
BOCCHIT EDMOND, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Haiti, said migration has taken on a global dimension as never before. He emphasized that climate change and its effects have created climate refugees – something that everyone should be concerned about. The international community must reaffirm its faith in human rights and not give in to the temptation of failing to act. With the Global Compact, the international community has given itself a precise framework for cooperation that gives a key role to the rights, needs, capacities and contributions of migrants while committing States and stakeholders to working together to tackle problems and facilitate innovative solutions. Describing his country as an important centre of migration in the Caribbean, he underscored the impact of natural disasters and the “brain drain” of talent. The issue of migration also reveals the divisions between the global North and South and the gap between rich and poor, due in part to a failure to uphold pledges of official development assistance (ODA). While taking note of reservations and criticisms, Haiti views the Global Compact as a morally binding document, in perfect alignment with the United Nations Charter, he said.
HERMANGILD FRANCIS, Minister for Home Affairs, Justice and National Security of Saint Lucia, said the Global Compact is a valiant initiative to tailor a global response to a global crisis by addressing international migration in all its dimensions. Migration is not always a choice, but rather is sometimes prompted by global challenges, and when the risks of migration are greater than the benefits, then its root causes must be addressed. Such factors as climate change, poverty, unemployment, safety and security concerns, corruption and poor governance prompt people to move for a better future. He stressed the impact of climate change on small island developing States like Saint Lucia, stating that, if left unchecked, it would affect the movement of Caribbean nationals. He went on to welcome regional consultative processes which enable dialogue on migration and refugee protection.
ZORAN DJORDJEVIC, Minister for Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs of Serbia, said migration represents a pressing issue, posing unique challenges. The huge influx of refugees and migrants to Europe within a short space of time has made local communities along the route incapable of quickly absorbing the inflow, giving rise to increased xenophobia. As such, Serbia welcomes the adoption of the New York Declaration, because the global phenomenon requires coordinated action and joint efforts. Ever since the massive influx of refugees and migrants through the Western Balkan route reached its peak in 2015, Serbia has invested effort and resources in managing the crisis as a transit country. The Government has demonstrated its responsibility by providing adequate reception, food and medical assistance, temporary accommodation and information about asylum procedures. He expressed pride about the humane approach of his people towards refugees and migrants arriving from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. He also highlighted the still ongoing process of integrating more than 300,000 refugees from the former Yugoslavia and more than 200,000 internally displaced persons from Kosovo and Metohija.
MAMADI TOURE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Guineans Living Abroad of Guinea, recalled the adoption of the New York Declaration, noting the international need to strengthen multilateralism. Migration in all its dimensions must be considered in order to build peaceful societies, he observed, noting that the Global Compact represents a significant step forward as the first holistic framework to deal with migration. He expressed regret over acts of xenophobia and racism, welcoming the need to strengthen cooperation in that domain. His Government has undertaken public policies to ensure that Guineans living abroad can flourish and return in dignity, he observed, noting that that Government has organized national consultation days on the Global Compact and the launching of socioeconomic projects. The fight against irregular migration includes support of young people and good governance, among other concerns. As such, he appealed for predictable and lasting financing for the agreement.
ABDOU LATIF COULIBALY, Minister for Culture of Senegal, called the Global Compact an appropriate response to the tragedy faced by vulnerable migrants worldwide. Going forward, he invited stakeholders to show political will in such areas as non-refoulement and visas. He emphasized that African migration mainly occurs within Africa and that it is often exacerbated by xenophobia and populism. Africa does not wish to send its children on perilous journeys through the Sahara or across the Mediterranean, he said, adding that it prefers to create the conditions of development that would encourage them to stay. Stressing the importance of upholding the human rights and dignity of migrants, he said Senegal is pleased that its national policy objectives are in line with the Global Compact. However, given the complexity of the issue, it calls for collaboration and cooperation at all levels when it comes to managing migration.
SEKAI IRENE NZENZA, Minister for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare of Zimbabwe, noted that her country has exported skilled migrants to Western countries, who went there mostly through regular migration. In 2016, Zimbabwe unveiled its national diaspora policy implementation action plan for 2017-2022. The plan accepts migrants as agents of change and sustainable development, identifying such priority areas as diaspora investment, remittances and rights in order to engender a mutual partnership between the Government and the diaspora. Moreover, Zimbabwe’s economic blueprint, the Transitional Stabilization Programme for 2018-2020, provides many opportunities for the diaspora to participate in the national development discourse. African countries have used progressive migration and diaspora policies, enabling them to deal with the majority of migration flows taking place within the continent. Regional and continental migration frameworks, such as the Migration Policy Framework for Africa, have been instrumental in this regard. “Zimbabwe is open for business; Zimbabwe is ready for re-engagement,” she stressed, noting that her country is also ready to effectively implement the Global Compact.
HASSAN OMAR MOHAMED BOURHAN, Minister for Interior of Djibouti, said that today will be forevermore etched in collective memory as the day when Governments decided to act together to meet the inherit challenges of the situation of migrants and refugees worldwide on the basis of clearly defined objectives. The Global Compact strikes a subtle balance between realism and ambition, one that will require the countries of the world to join forces. He recalled that Djibouti hosts thousands of refugees from neighbouring States in the Horn of Africa and the Arab peninsula who have fled war and the effects of climate change. Their children enjoy the same rights to education and health care as Djiboutian children, he said, emphasizing that his country spares no effort to protect the rights and promote the integration of all refugees on its territory. Given the burden that refugees pose on developing countries, however, it is crucial for the international community to rectify as soon as possible a scarcity of funding for such populations.
SIMEON OYONO ESONO ANGUE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Equatorial Guinea, said migration must not be understood as a temporary matter, having benefitted countries in the past, some of which now see it as a damaging phenomenon. Focusing solely on its negative consequences does not lead to a solution, he observed, calling instead for addressing its root causes. Welcoming the adoption of the Global Compact, he said it is a result of the political commitment and determination of States to ensure the dignity and integrity of migrants. It constitutes a framework to ensure that no country alone must grapple with migration, and to help developing countries achieve the 2030 Agenda. The Global Compact will be successful only to the extent to which new forms of solidarity are rolled out, aiming to reduce poverty, foster development and industrialization and uphold human dignity. Migration policy in the past has been based on political opportunities, leading to failure, he noted, urging the international community to unite behind the Global Compact.
KAMISSA CAMARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, said the Global Compact is not perfect but represents renewed hope for migrants, demonstrating the shared will to effectively manage migration flows. She expressed regret over the withdrawal of some States from the agreement, noting that it represents compromise reached by States with different sensibilities. She noted that Mali’s diaspora numbers more than 4 million, contributing more than $700 million to the country’s development. Her country remains opposed to irregular migration, she said, noting the national migration policy adopted in 2014. Stressing that migratory issues are as old as time, she said no one can halt such global movement. Instead, by working together, States can transform migration’s adverse effects into opportunities. As such, the Global Compact constitutes an opportunity for better management of migration, she observed.
FAIZEL MOHAMED NOERSALIM, Minister for Home Affairs of Suriname, said that his country has experienced migratory flows from as early as 1630. Its population consists of indigenous peoples, tribal members of African descent and various ethnic groups. The country’s multi-annual development plan for 2017-2021 takes into account the two fundamental development challenges: a small population and the openness of its economy, he said, noting that migration can change the size and the structure of the population in a small country like his in a short period of time. The diaspora plays an important role in Suriname’s ambitions for further sustainable development as they are increasing contributing to the country’s growth via skills development, knowledge, trade and investment. In 2017, the country initiated a project to map and assess the skills of Surinamese living and working abroad in order to maximize their employability.
NOUREDDINE BEDOUI, Minister for Interior and Local Governments of Algeria, has become a host country for migrants after being an origin and transit country. Now thousands of migrants are in its territory. Managing the exceptionally high flow of those people is a challenge, and negatively impacts public order. Under the President’s vision of peace and tolerance, Algeria is working with countries of origin to mitigate such impacts. The Government has also undertaken efforts to strength capacity as a host to migrants. His delegation approves the objectives of the Global Compact that relate to international solidarity, sharing responsibility, a human-centred approach, national sovereignty and the agreement’s non-legally-binding nature. However, the Global Compact does not make clear the distinction between irregular migration and clandestine migration.
EMMANUEL FABIANO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Malawi, said managing movements of people across borders cannot be achieved by individual countries. As such, partnership and cooperation becomes a primary requirement in that regard. The Global Compact allows for dialogue and lessens the burden borne by vulnerable migrants. Malawi is a country of origin, transit and destination, he said, noting that it currently hosts 45 refugees. The Global Compact’s usefulness depends on the willingness of Member States to implement its objectives at the national level. Its goals complement Malawi’s national action plan in that context. Moreover, Malawi is also developing a new policy framework pertinent to migration and development. Citing labour legislation protecting worker rights, he said such laws govern all those working in Malawi, including migrants. Noting that Malawi supports the adoption of the Global Compact, he said his country will harness migration’s benefits guided by the 2030 Agenda goals.
KHAMPHAO ERNTHAVANH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) noted that, considering its unique geographical location and characteristics, his country has faced a complex set of phenomena regarding migration flows. Addressing its root causes should constitute a priority in cooperation and implementation of the Global Compact, he noted, pointing out that proper migration will help reduce poverty, inequality and organized crime, including human trafficking. Welcoming the agreement’s adoption, he reaffirmed his delegation’s commitment to continue supporting efforts to address migration challenges. Moreover, his country will continue actively participating and cooperating with its neighbouring countries in the context of regional frameworks and mechanisms while fulfilling its commitments and obligations under international law.
MD. SHAHIDUL HAQUE, Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh, said that the Global Compact process is State-led and State-owned and, therefore, his country has gone ahead and finalized a draft national strategy on migration governance in consultation with all stakeholders and with assistance from IOM. In this process, his country recognized the valued contribution its expatriates continue to make. Bangladesh has concluded an arrangement with the European Union for a humane and mutually beneficial return process for Bangladeshis. As Member States implement the Global Compact, they should be aware of issues, such as climate change, identity politics, national populist measures and rapid technological progress, all of which will impact the labour market. Bangladesh also painfully recognizes that cross-border forced displacement caused by violence, extremism and ultra-nationalism compounds the tasks ahead.
ADOUM GARGOUM, Minister Delegate to the Minister for External Relations in charge of Islamic Cooperation of Cameroon, said migration can be seen as an opportunity or an obstacle. Describing images of migrant journeys and detention observed in the media, he said the Global Compact affects perceptions of migrants, especially of Africans. Out of the 258 million people registered as refugees, only 14 per cent are African, he said. Moreover, this diaspora represents only 3 per cent of the 1.2 billion people living in Africa, which mainly serves as a destination for migrants. “The majority of African migration is within Africa,” he said, noting that Cameroon serves as a country of origin, transit and destination. As such, his Government recognizes the rights of all human beings, regardless of their migration status. In that regard, Cameroon has worked to secure their rights of family reunification, property, education and housing, among other measures. His country provides a welcoming environment where migrants may freely work and undertake professional activities. As a host country, it commits to adopting an approach that is less protectionist, instead addressing the root causes of migration. In that context, it has set up employment projects in fields such as agriculture, aiming to facilitate integration of young people in profitable and sustainable work.
PATRICK KETURET OLE NTUTU (Kenya), said his country has already made remarkable progress in implementation of the Global Compact, establishing a national coordination mechanism on migration. The Government is at an advanced stage of developing a national migration policy, which advocates for the integration of migration concerns into national development strategies. The Government also reviewed its visa programme in 2017, requiring citizens of East African partner States to move, settle and work in Kenya without hindrance, and those of other African countries to obtain visas on arrival at the ports of entry. Kenya has also employed coordinated and integrated border management approaches, such as one-stop border posts, which will ensure effective and efficient facilitation of international travel and trade.
OSAMA FAISAL ALSAYED ALI (Sudan) said his country has hosted migrants and refugees throughout its history, and has contributed to the Global Compact. It has adopted international and regional programmes in that regard, and is known for its experience with migration at a time when it is hosting flows of irregular migrants. Sudan’s citizens have experienced regular and productive migration as well, he recalled, noting that his Government is cooperating with transit and destination countries to provide protection for migrants. His delegation is looking into international endeavours to improve conditions for them, he noted. Drawing attention to links between refugees and migrants, he said Sudan has assisted 2 million refugees, covering more than 70 per cent of their needs. This is putting great pressure on host communities, he observed, calling on the United Nations and the European Union to help with that situation. Countries affected by such flows, especially those in Africa, cannot address the issue alone. Sudan has also contributed to the European Union-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative, known as the Khartoum Process, to address root causes, and is committed to all regional and international conventions on migration.