UN Secretary-General Launches Migration Report Ahead of Compact Negotiations
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The UN Secretary-General launched his report ‘Making Migration Work for All’, which will serve as an input to the zero draft of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and the related intergovernmental negotiations.

The report identifies key challenges and possible solutions, makes suggestions to UN Member States on framing the global compact, and includes elements for consideration on follow-up and review.

It also outlines the Secretary-General’s intention to initiate internal consultations on how best to configure the UN system to coordinate the actions of the UN on migration, and calls for a review of progress on the global compact through a periodic high-level review conference.

11 January 2018: UN Secretary-General António Guterres has issued a report on migration, which will serve as an input to the zero draft of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. Briefing UN Member States on the report, Guterres said the compact’s adoption is one of the most important collective priorities for 2018, and it gives the international community its first opportunity to fashion “a truly global response to migration.”

The report titled, ‘Making Migration Work for All’ (A/72/643), was launched during a UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting on 11 January 2018, in New York, US. It was called for by the UNGA resolution setting modalities for the global compact preparatory process (71/280).

The report calls for a debate that avoids dehumanizing language, such as “illegal immigrants.”

The report notes that the global compact will be judged on whether it succeeds in catalyzing concrete actions. The report calls for a respectful and realistic debate around migration that: involves all relevant actors, including migrants; recognizes the contributions and the leadership of migrant women; addresses the policies and practices that put migrant children in danger; and avoids dehumanizing language, such as “illegal immigrants.” The report suggests that Member States: emphasize the importance of subnational policies in addressing migrants; prepare detailed national action plans on migration; consider policies to regulate cross-border recruitment practices to ensure that migrants do not bear unsustainable costs in their search for work; and improve the quantity and quality of data on migration.

According to the report, there is an urgent need for UN Member States to lay out a strategy for dealing with large movements of migrants. Such a strategy should take into account: a humanitarian and human rights-based approach to assisting large movements of migrants; mechanisms and resources to ensure that, after an immediate humanitarian response, the status of migrants in vulnerable situations can be determined individually, fairly and reliably; and more credible pathways for migrants who do not qualify for international refugee protection but face insurmountable obstacles to return.

The report also outlines the Secretary-General’s intention to initiate internal consultations on how best to configure the UN system, including the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to coordinate the actions of the UN on migration, and regardless of discussions on the future status of IOM. It adds that the outcomes from these consultations will have to be fully consistent with the UN Secretary-General’s development and management reform initiatives and be aligned with UN work on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

On oversight, the report notes that no single forum exists at the global level through which UN Member States can guide the UN’s work on migration and oversee the commitments made in the global compact. The UN Secretary-General therefore calls on UN Member States to consider how best they can configure themselves to support the roll-out of the global compact and ensure its effective implementation, with the support of the UN system.

On follow-up and review, the report calls for a review of progress on the global compact through a periodic high-level review conference. The review conference should focus on new strategic requirements and directions for managing evolving dynamics in migration, and include thematic discussions on opportunities and obstacles to maximizing the benefits of migration for all, it says. The report also suggests that UN Member States consider other existing annual forums at which they can exchange best practices on migration policies, and report voluntary and regularly on the implementation of their commitments relating to the global compact. Wherever possible, it notes, UN Member States should aim to link such processes to the follow-up mechanisms for the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, in order to emphasize the positive links between development and migration.

During the launch meeting on 11 January, Guterres remarked that globally, migration is an inevitable reality of today’s world but remains poorly managed, and called to focus on the “overwhelming positives” of migration and to use facts, not prejudice, as the basis for addressing its challenges. He said migrants make a major contribution to international development, both by their work and by sending remittances to their home countries, which amounted to nearly US$600 billion in 2017, three times all development aid. He stressed the need for action, for engagement and for a UN that is fit for purpose. He also noted that international cooperation does not aim to undermine national sovereignty, but human rights and human dignity of migrants should be respected.

UNGA President Miroslav Lajcak remarked that the development of the global compact is the opportunity to maximize the benefits of migration. He called on UN Member States to come to the global compact negotiations ready to listen, to work collaboratively and to compromise.

Louise Arbour, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for International Migration, thanked UN Member States, intergovernmental organizations and NGOs for their written inputs to the report, adding that the report also reflects discussions undertaken in 2017 during the consultation and stocktaking phases related to the preparation of the global compact. She said the report frames the promotion of safe, orderly and regular migration through sustainable development, security and human rights. She also stressed the importance of the rule of law in terms of expanding legal pathways for migration and treating migrants, including irregular migrants, with dignity and respect.

Many countries welcomed the Secretary-General’s report. Outlining its expectations for the global compact, the EU said it should, inter alia: be a global framework in which the different interests of countries of origin, transit and destination are balanced; make practical suggestions; allow for a people-centered approach that puts human rights of all migrants at its center; and address the drivers of irregular migration and invest in opportunities for all, especially for young people. He supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to make the UN fit for purpose, and welcomed his suggestion to task IOM with a coordinating role on migration.

Morocco, which will host the intergovernmental conference to adopt the global compact on 10-11 December 2018, expressed support for the Secretary-General’s proposal to organize a periodic high-level review conference to assess progress on the global compact. China noted the importance of strengthening multilateral cooperation on migration, and called for reducing the transaction costs of migrants remittances.

The Philippines said the trust fund to support the global compact is critical. Bangladesh states that the compact is an opportunity to bridge existing policy gaps, and should not be seen through a security lens.

Libya remarked that migration should be voluntary, and, referring to the 22,432 migrants reported to have died worldwide since 2014, called for prevention rather than cure. Tanzania called for condemning acts of slavery. Other considerations raised by participants included: the need for a renewed fight against trafficking; ensuring that migration decisions are fully informed; strengthening partnerships; taking cooperative security measures to ensure orderly migration; avoiding misperceptions; and tackling discrimination.

UN officials and UN Member States also paid tribute to Peter Sutherland, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for International Migration from 2006 to 2017, who passed away on 7 January 2018.

The zero draft of the global compact is expected to be issued by the beginning of February 2018 by Juan Jose Gomez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico, and Jurg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland, who serve as co-facilitators for negotiations on the compact and the intergovernmental conference to adopt it. In December 2017, the co-facilitators announced the negotiating schedule for the global compact, which includes meetings every month from March to July 2018. [Report of UN Secretary-General: Making Migration Work for All] [Statement of UN Secretary-General] Statement of UN Secretary-General Special Representative for International Migration] [UN Press Release] [UNGA President’s Letter on Briefing] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Schedule for Migration Compact Negotiations] [UNGA Resolution on Modalities for Preparatory Process] [All SDG Knowledge Hub Coverage of Migration Compact Process]


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