High-Level Event Builds Momentum Ahead of Migration Conference
UN Photo/John Isaac
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Ahead of the Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, Morocco from 10-11 December 2018, the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for International Migration organized a high-level event to mobilize UN Member States and others to “come to Marrakech” ready to think creatively, share initiatives, and make commitments, including through partnerships.

The event follows an agreement reached by UN Member States on the text of the Global Compact in July 2018.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighted the establishment of a Migration Network to support governments' implementation of the Compact.

26 September 2018: A side event during the 73rd UNGA’s high-level week sought to “build a bridge” between UN Member States’ agreement on the Global Compact on migration and its adoption in December 2018 at a conference in Marrakech, Morocco. During the high-level event organized by the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for International Migration, some countries urged implementation of the Compact’s provisions.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is the first intergovernmentally negotiated agreement prepared under the auspices of the UN aiming to address all dimensions of migration in a comprehensive manner. UN Member States reached agreement on the text on 16 July 2018, following a preparatory process that began in April 2017 and comprised a consultation phase (thematic sessions, regional consultations and stakeholder consultations), a stocktaking phase including a three-day meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in December 2017, and six months of intergovernmental negotiations. The US withdrew from the process at the beginning of the intergovernmental negotiations, and Hungary announced after the completion of the agreement that it disassociates itself from the compact.

The ‘Road to Marrakech’ event took place on the sidelines of the General Debate on 26 September 2018, in New York, US, co-sponsored by Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Rwanda and Turkey, along with Morocco, the host of the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Compact. It aimed to mobilize UN Member States and others to “come to Marrakech” ready to think creatively, share initiatives and make commitments, including through partnerships.

During the meeting, several delegations remarked that the true measure of success of the Compact will not be its adoption but its implementation, and called for leadership and action to implement it. Ireland called for the Conference in Marrakech to discuss how the Compact can best be implemented to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. Many stressed the importance of strengthened international cooperation for implementation considering that migration is “a global phenomenon.” Tunisia stressed the need for global cooperation on migration based on shared but differentiated responsibilities.

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said the Compact emphasizes that collaboration is fundamental to addressing human mobility, and recognizes that while every sovereign State has the “prerogative to govern its borders,” the “interdependent world” demands solutions that are anchored in cooperation. Guterres said the Global Compact seeks to: tackle the drivers of irregular and forced migration; reduce the risks migrants face by protecting their human rights; address the legitimate concerns of host states and communities; and leverage the benefits that migration brings to host and home countries. He noted that he has “moved to establish a new Migration Network within the UN” to support governments’ implementation of the Compact. The Migration Network will be coordinated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and provide support on all aspects of human mobility, including economic development, security, protection of human rights and gender equality.

Guterres thanked the Director-General of IOM, William Lacy Swing, for “his ten years of extraordinary service.” Swing will be succeeded by António Manuel de Carvalho Ferreira Vitorino of Portugal, starting on 1 October. Swing said 2018 marked “historic” achievements since governments reached agreements on the Global Compact for Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees. He noted that these achievements are the result of a longer journey that dates back 30 years, consisting of various international consultation processes and initiatives to talk about migration. He clarified that while IOM will coordinate the Migration Network, it will not be an “IOM show;” rather, the organization will work in coordination and partnership.

UNGA President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés expressed her condolences and “heartbreak” for those whose lives have been lost while “seeking out a new, better life crossing deserts or seas.” She said that migration offers opportunities for migrants and hosts, and those who resist or oppose it only see the challenges. She also remarked that while migration is a very complex issue, a number of countries have shown from their policies and outcome that it is “not beyond our ability to get it right.”

Monica Ramirez, Founder, Justice for Migrant Women, reported that there are an estimated 260 million migrants in the world today, and that people have always and will always move across borders. She said without shared goals and norms, there will continue to be a disparity in the treatment of migrants, with individuals being at risk for violence, human trafficking and exploitation, including the estimated 50 million migrant children who are vulnerable to abuse.

Among countries that took the floor, Morocco remarked that the international community will adopt the Global Compact on the same day that the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Human Rights Day 2018, which will take place on 10 December, the first day of the Marrakech Conference. He also noted that the 11th Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Summit Meeting will convene in Marrakech right before the Conference. Germany and Morocco serve as co-chairs of the GFMD from 1 January 2017 until 31 December 2018.

Brazil said the migration law it adopted in 2017 “fully supports the dignity of migrants.” He added that several Venezuelans are crossing Brazil’s borders due to the economic crisis in their country, and these borders will remain opened pursuant to Brazilian law and consistent with international obligations. Bahrain indicated that it has introduced a sponsor-less visa for migrant workers. Turkey said it looks forward to endorsing the Global Compact in Marrakech. Finland announced that its president will participate to the Conference, and Indonesia said it has submitted its nomination as a chair for the Conference to adopt the Compact.

The Philippines said it hosted an international conference on global migration from 14-15 August 2018, which sought to discuss a roadmap to implement the Compact. Canada remarked that its planned comprehensive approach to migration, its managed borders, and its investment in integration and settlement programmes make positive contributions to the country. He also outlined the importance of partnership for a “well managed immigration system” including between all levels of government, and with educational institutions, the private sector, non-profit organizations, faith groups and “ordinary” citizens. Mexico noted that in 2019 delegations will have to discuss and conclude modalities of the International Migration Review Fora through intergovernmental consultations, as mandated in the Global Compact.

The EU remarked that migration remains a divisive topic across the globe, but is “part of our history and here to stay.” Among other initiatives, he said the European Commission has proposed to significantly reinforce funding for migration and border management under the next EU budget from 2021 to 2027, for a total of approximately €35 billion. He also announced an EU-Arab States summit on migration in 2019.

The Netherlands said its government has opted for a wide-ranging, comprehensive approach to migration based on six pillars: preventing irregular migration; improving reception and protection for refugees and displaced persons in the region; achieving a robust asylum system, based on solidarity, in the EU and the Netherlands; combating illegal residence and stepping up returns; promoting legal migration routes; and encouraging integration and participation. France called for increasing investment in the management of migration, particularly in Africa. The UK said it supports the Global Compact as a way to deliver commitments signed under the SDGs. Germany and Liechtenstein said they will put the Compact into practice.

The intergovernmental conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will take place in Marrakech, Morocco from 10-11 December 2018. [Side event webpage] [UN Secretary-General’s remarks] [UNGA President’s remarks] [UN press release] [Meeting webcast] [SDG Knowledge Hub sources]

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