19 December 2016
Governments Consider Negotiation Modalities for Migration Compact
UN Photo/John Isaac
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UN Member States exchanged views on the zero draft of a resolution on modalities for the intergovernmental negotiations leading to a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

On 18 December, the world observed International Migrants Day, highlighting the UN Secretary General’s campaign against xenophobia, #Together.

16 December 2016: UN Member States exchanged views on the zero draft of a resolution on modalities for the intergovernmental negotiations leading to a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. Co-facilitators Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland, and Juan José Gómez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico, circulated the zero draft on 9 December 2016, which was discussed by governments during an informal consultation on 16 December in New York, US.

Member States committed to launch a process of intergovernmental negotiations leading to the adoption of the global compact, to be presented at an intergovernmental conference on international migration in 2018, when they adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (A/RES/71/1) in September 2016. The co-facilitators for the process issued an elements paper on 23 November, and heard initial views from Member States on the elements on 5 December.

Some governments said the modalities resolution should define clear “job descriptions” and the division of responsibilities between IOM and the UN Secretariat.

During the informal consultations on 16 December, with regards to the substantive aspects of the modalities resolution, Norway, supported by Australia, called for including references to addressing irregular migration, forced migration and modern slavery, as well as to orderly, safe and well-managed migration. Supported by India, he said the two anticipated global compacts on migrants and refugees must be kept separate. Colombia underscored the need for strong linkages with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA). Bangladesh, supported by the US and others, said the modalities resolution should clearly define the “job descriptions” and division of responsibilities between the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Secretariat, based on the New York Declaration. Colombia requested more details on the coordination and organization of work between Geneva and New York. Norway said the modalities resolution should clearly specify how the UN Secretary-General’s synthesis report will be fed into the negotiation process.

On the nature of the Global Compact, the EU, supported by Japan, stressed the need to clearly mention that it is not legally binding. On inputs from regional processes, the Group of 77 and China (G-77/ China), supported by Columbia, called for including language on how regional inputs will fit into the negotiation process, suggesting that they could be part of the Secretary-General’s synthesis report or part of the preparatory consultations for negotiations. The US said the IOM should take the lead on planning regional and thematic consultations.

On stakeholders’ participation, G-77/China noted that stakeholders should bring inputs through multi-stakeholder interactive discussions. Ecuador stressed the intergovernmental nature of the conference and its preparatory process. China underscored respect for the established rules of procedure of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) with regards to civil society participation on a non-objection basis. The US, supported by Australia, emphasized the importance of civil society participation, called for deleting references to a non-objection basis, and said it is unnecessary to mention that the conference and its preparatory process will be “intergovernmental in nature.”

On the proposed preparatory thematic sessions, the EU said they should be held in Geneva to benefit from IOM contributions. G-77/China suggested that the sessions focus on practical impact on the ground, and called to reformulate the thematic session on climate change to read “protecting migrants in man-made disasters.” Belarus, supported by G-77/China, Australia and Eritrea, called for either including a heading or subheading on human trafficking. Colombia called for a chapeau on the economic dimension of migration, which it said should deal with remittances. Bangladesh requested more clarity on the linkage between the informal thematic sessions and the preparatory meetings. The US expressed concern about the costs of 12 days of thematic sessions, and recommended instead dedicating a half-day to each theme and using other existing fora to enhance Member States’ understanding of the topics.

On the duration of the negotiations, G-77/China, supported by Brazil, stressed the importance of participation by experts from capitals, and called to hold two or three longer sessions. Colombia expressed hope that the negotiations will begin before January 2018.

On the funding of the negotiations and the preparatory sessions, the US, supported by Japan, said the voluntary trust fund should cover all the preparations, including the conference services, and that the UN regular budget should not be used in any way for the preparatory process. Colombia noted that the trust fund should be used to provide support for participants from developing countries, in particular from the least developed countries (LDCs).

Many delegations expressed support for appointing a Secretary-General of the conference. Mexico, supported by Ecuador and China, proposed convening a preparatory meeting for negotiations, to be held in New York.

Closing the meeting, the co-facilitators announced that “intense” negotiation sessions will take place from 16-31 January 2017, in New York, US.

On 18 December, the world observed International Migrants Day, highlighting the UN Secretary General’s campaign against xenophobia, #Together. Launched at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants in September 2016 in New York, the Together campaign aims to counter misinformation and misperceptions on refugees and migrants, and encourages contact between refugees, migrants and those in the destination countries. IOM offices around the world marked International Migrants Day with a candlelight vigil for the second year in a row, to celebrate the positive contributions that migrants make to societies, to recognize and honor their struggles and the challenges they face, and to remember those who died in 2016 trying to reach a better life. [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Elements Paper] [IISD Sources] [UNRIC Press Release]

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