14 May 2018: At the half-way point of the intergovernmental negotiation process for a global compact on migration, delegates met to complete their consideration of the latest version of the text (‘Draft Rev 1’). The week-long meeting is also expected to include discussion of a capacity-building mechanism to facilitate implementation 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. Negotiations on the text are taking place in six rounds between February and July 2018, in New York, US, led by co-facilitators Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland, and Juan José Gómez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico. The fourth round of intergovernmental negotiations is under way from 14-18 May 2018.

The first revised draft of the global compact (‘Draft Rev 1’) was issued in March 2018, and delegates began considering it during the third round of consultations in April.

Lauber informed delegates that the voluntary trust fund for the conference and preparatory process is empty.

Opening the meeting on 14 May, Lauber reminded delegates that the compact should be practical, specific and implementable. He said the text should be finalized at the sixth round of consultations in July, as specified in the UNGA resolution on ‘Modalities for the intergovernmental negotiations of the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration’ (71/280), and that negotiations cannot be extended, considering the number of other negotiations also taking place at the UNGA during the northern fall. Lauber remarked that the voluntary trust fund for the intergovernmental conference and its preparatory process is empty, and called on delegations to contribute to it.

Nepal, for several countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Ecuador, Liechtenstein, Mexico and Uruguay, highlighted the importance of the global compact as the first agreement negotiated at the UN that covers all the dimensions of migration. He stressed the need to “not fall short of the commitments” made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, and to keep the momentum going.

Bulgaria for the Group of Friends of Children and the SDGs, remarked that “it’s not the words on paper that matter for children” but action on the ground, such as: more effective protection from smugglers and traffickers; safe access to schools, hospitals and policy stations without fear of deportation; and support to help children and their families reintegrate their country upon their return.

Chile noted that it has undertaken a migration reform on the principles of safe, orderly and regular migration. Jamaica called for promoting cooperation at all levels and to establish a global fund to address migration. The Philippines for like-minded states on decent work and migration, including Fiji, Guatemala, Nepal, Paraguay and Switzerland, suggested that the compact: better link decent work and labor migration; promote decent work with actionable objectives; and address the vulnerability of women migrant workers. Liechtenstein called to strengthen the compact in view of international human rights law, and said its follow-up and review should ensure substantial coherence with the 2030 Agenda.

India noted that the “current discourse of the global compact is colored negatively,” and stressed the need to strengthen the positive contribution of migrants in the document, including by highlighting this “up front.” Panama called for measures to raise awareness on displacement caused by the effects of climate change, and Vietnam noted the need to address matters related to migration as a result of environmental degradation and climate change. Canada said the gender responsiveness of the compact is a priority for the country, and some countries suggested including gender as a cross-cutting issue in the text.

On eliminating all forms of discrimination and promoting fact-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migrants (objective 17 of the compact), many delegations called for replacing “discouraging” with “prohibiting” or “suppressing” public funding to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants. Austria on behalf of a group of 27 EU States cautioned against text that would infringe on the freedom of the press. Comoros on behalf of the African Group and El Salvador asked to replace “reduce” with “eliminate” legal and practical barriers for migrants to access national and regional effective complaint and redress mechanisms. Brazil said the compact should be based on human rights throughout the text, and that policies should be not only gender responsive but also racially sensitive.

On investing in skills development and facilitating recognition of skills, qualifications and competences (objective 18 of the compact), Brazil said this could constitute “one of the biggest achievements of the compact.” Austria for 27 EU States suggested to differentiate between regular and irregular migrants in all the sub-paragraphs of this objective, and South Africa supported by China remarked that this objective needs to be looked at in the context of regular migration.

In advance of the meeting, the co-facilitators issued a concept note on a capacity-building mechanism to facilitate the implementation of the compact’s objectives. The ‘Migration Solutions Mechanism’ is subject to be discussed during the fourth round of negotiations. Per the concept note, it could include: a connection hub; a start-up fund to initially finance the realization of project-oriented solutions; and a Global Knowledge Network serving as an online open data platform to facilitate the accessibility to knowledge and the sharing of solutions. It would: be located at global level for effective coordination and overview, and anchored within the UN system; include country-level multi-agency set-up in line with the UN development system reform to facilitate implementation and capacity-building at national and subnational levels; and involve the administration of the Start-up Fund to ensure effective and transparent allocation of funding.

During the fourth round of consultations, governments also are expected to discuss: international cooperation and capacity-building; pathways for regular migration and regularization; natural disasters, climate change and migration; fundamental human rights and services; the concept of firewalls; integration and contributions of irregular migrants; and effective and efficient cooperation on return.

A series of events are taking place on the sidelines of the fourth round of negotiations, including on: labor mobility and the better management of global migration; bridging the gap regarding political participation of migrants and refugees; ensuring human rights protection in the compact; data about and for migration; and managing return and reintegration. [Co-Facilitators’ letter on fourth round of consultations] [Capacity Building Mechanism concept note] [Compact Negotiations website] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on third round of consultations] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on Draft Rev 1] [Global Compact Draft Rev 1]