5 June 2018
Delegates Start Penultimate Round of Migration Compact Negotiations
Photo by IISD/ENB
story highlights

UN Member States are holding a fifth round of intergovernmental negotiations on the global compact on migration, on the basis of the second revised draft of the compact.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is being prepared for adoption at an intergovernmental conference convening from 10-11 December 2018, in Morocco.

4 June 2018: Delegates are meeting for the penultimate week of negotiations scheduled for the preparation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. During the opening session on 4 June 2018, countries began sharing comments on the second revised draft of the compact (‘Draft Rev 2’), including on the distinction between of migrants and refugees and between regular and irregular migrants, on the non-binding nature of the compact, and on States’ sovereignty to determine their national migration policy.

Opening the fifth round of intergovernmental negotiations, taking place in New York, US, from 4-8 June 2018, co-facilitator Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland, presented modifications brought from the first revised draft to the second revised draft of the compact. He noted, inter alia: the inclusion of a new Objective 23 on strengthening international cooperation and global partnerships; a more explicit distinction between objectives, commitments and actions; the inclusion of climate change and natural disasters as drivers of migration under Objective 2 (on minimizing the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin) and Objective 5 (on enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration); and clarification in the text that the compact’s review of progress would take place through a State-led approach, with the participation of all stakeholders.

Outlining the schedule for the week, Lauber said delegates will conduct a reading of the whole text, and the UN Secretary-General will brief delegations on the institutional UN rearrangements resulting from his internal consultations. He added that informal dialogues with stakeholders will take place on 5 and 8 June, in the morning. Co-facilitator Juan José Gómez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico, noted that the text incorporates proposals from delegations in a way that ensures a coherent and balanced draft, while maintaining a “360 degree” vision of international migration.

Many delegations expressed satisfaction with the second revised draft as a basis for the upcoming round of negotiations. Some countries noted the importance of States’ sovereignty in implementing the compact. Australia reported that it has one of the largest per capita migration programmes in the world, but lamented that the current draft “poses risks to the sovereign rights of States” to manage migration. He said the compact should recognize States’ responsibility to manage their borders. Others, such as Brazil, remarked that referring to the “non-legally binding” nature of the compact and respecting the sovereignty of States in the same paragraph could send the message that UN Member States do not want to implement it, and the Holy See suggested to use more “positive” wording and replace “non legally binding” with “politically binding.”

Several delegations stressed the need to better distinguish between migrants and refugees, and called for reinstating text from ‘Draft Rev 1’ that clarifies that migrants and refugees are distinct groups governed by different legal frameworks. On regular and irregular migration, Norway and others said the compact should mainly focus on regular migrants, while Venezuela suggested that it should target all migrants. On the concept on non-refoulement, China said this applies to refugees and should not be reflected in the migration compact, while El Salvador described its inclusion as a great achievement.

Comoros for the African Group called for the consolidation of different objectives related to disaster-induced migration into a new objective, and said the compact should ensure that the return of migrants in their country is voluntary, in order to prohibit mass or individual expulsions.

Austria on behalf of 27 EU States welcomed the inclusion of the role of local authorities in various places of the draft. She noted that implementation of the compact should not depend upon the level of development but should be based on shared responsibility, and also called for clarifying the role of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in follow-up and review and in the capacity-building mechanism that seeks to support UN Member States in implementing the compact.

Bangladesh expressed concerns on accountability, noting that the International Migration Review Forum is scheduled to take place every four years under the UN General Assembly (UNGA), but this periodicity of meetings should be reduced to two years. Brazil also noted that if UN Member States only meet every four years to discuss and share progress on implementation, that exercise “will fail.”

Luxembourg for Member States of the Group Friends of Children and the SDGs noted the importance of protecting the most vulnerable, keeping families together, and strengthening or maintaining measures referring to children in the compact, among other priorities. Liechtenstein stressed the need to protect unaccompanied minors.

Singapore expressed concern that the text is too prescriptive, and should not “impose” actions on States, and Hungary remarked that his country’s approach towards migration is not in line with the compact. Among Hungary’s red lines, he cited that: migration must not be considered as a fundamental human right; protection of borders is the obligation of every country and violating a border especially between two peaceful countries is a crime; and migration is not the best answer to respond to demographic and economic issues.

India said the newly released UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report on economic development in Africa focusing on migration for structural transformation is one of several reports that outline the positive contributions of migration.

On the draft text adoption, South Africa noted that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and added that the issues of human rights and fundamental freedom should not be confused with access to basic services. El Salvador, Tuvalu and others also stressed the importance of human rights protection in the compact.

Addressing delegates in the afternoon of 4 June, UNGA President Miroslav Lajcak said the compact is the first global framework for global governance and international cooperation on migration, and agreeing on it is a test for multilateralism and for the UN’s capacity to respond to pressing global issues. He added that the compact will demonstrate that “we are stronger together than apart.”

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is being prepared for adoption at an intergovernmental conference convening from 10-11 December 2018, in Morocco. Negotiations on the text are organized in six rounds between February and July 2018.

On the sidelines of the June round of negotiations, a series of events are taking place including on: ending child detention in the context of international migration; addressing vulnerability and realizing the human rights of all migrants through the compact; and data for evidence-based migration policies in Europe. [SDG Knowledge Hub story on Rev 2 draft] [Draft Rev 2] [Co-Facilitators’ letter on fifth round of negotiations] [UNGA President’s remarks] [Compact negotiations website] [All SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of migration compact process]

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