The Global Compact for Migration was adopted on December 10 by leading representatives from 164 governments at an international conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, in an historic move described by United Nations Chief António Guterres as the creation of a “roadmap to prevent suffering and chaos”. The United States did not endorse the Compact.
Speaking at the opening intergovernmental session, Guterres, said that the Compact provides a platform for “humane, sensible, mutually beneficial action” resting on two “simple ideas”.
“Firstly, that migration has always been with us, but should be managed and safe; second, that national policies are far more likely to succeed with international cooperation.”
The UN chief said that in recent months there had been “many falsehoods”uttered about the agreement and “the overall issue of migration”. In order to dispel the “myths”, he said that the Compact did not allow the UN to impose migration policies on Member States, and neither was the pact a formal treaty.
“Moreover, it is not legally-binding. It is a framework for international cooperation, rooted in an inter-governmental process of negotiation in good faith,” he told delegates in Marrakech.
The pact would not give migrants rights to go anywhere, reaffirming only the fundamental human rights, he said. Guterres also challenged the myth that developed countries no longer need migrant labor, saying it was clear that “most need migrants across a broad spectrum of vital roles.”
Acknowledging that some States decided not to take part in the conference, or adopt the Compact, the UN Chief expressed his wish that they will come to recognize its value for their societies and join in “this common venture.”
More than a dozen countries (including the U.S.) either chose not to sign the accord or are still undecided.
The longstanding German Chancellor Angela Merkel, welcomed the adoption saying that it was high time the international community came to a more realistic understanding over global migration.
Merkel warned that the “go it alone approach will not solve the issue,” stressing that multilateralism is the only possible way forward. She admitted that her country – which has already welcomed more than a million migrants and refugees in recent years from countries such as Syria – will need more skilled labour from outside the European Union and has a vested interested in legal migration. But she also reaffirmed that Member States must tackle illegal migration and clearly commit to effective border protection to prevent human trafficking, as put forward in the Compact.
“States cannot accept that traffickers are the ones deciding who crosses into countries. We must settle such matters among us”, Merkel said.