10 July 2018
Governments Start Final Round of Migration Compact Negotiations
Photo by IISD/ENB
story highlights

The sixth and final round of negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is under way in New York, US, from 9-13 July 2018.

Delegations are considering the third revised draft of the compact (‘Draft Rev 3’).

On the first day of the session, many welcomed the draft, and voiced their concerns about child detention.

9 July 2018: UN Member States are meeting in New York, US, for the final round of negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. On 9 July 2018, delegations began sharing comments on the third revised draft of the compact (‘Draft Rev 3’), circulated by the co-facilitators on 29 June 2018. Many found the text balanced, and several delegations said they were looking forward to finalizing the compact by Friday, 13 July.

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 Marrakesh, Morocco. Negotiations on the text have been organized in six rounds that started in February 2018. The sixth round of negotiations is taking place in New York from 9-13 July 2018. According to the co-facilitators’ plans: the first two days (9-10 July) will allow delegations to share comments on remaining issues in the global compact that merit clarifications; a “final text” will be presented by the co-facilitators by the evening of Wednesday, 11 July; and delegations will reconvene on Friday morning (13 July) to conclude the negotiations.

Opening the negotiation session, co-facilitator Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland, said the 29 June text provides a “solid framework” for international cooperation on migration, and is nuanced and ambitious. Among the modifications brought from the second to the third revised draft, he said the term ‘non-refoulement’ has been removed, but the concept related to that principle is still reflected in paragraph 37, as it was the word itself that was problematic for some delegations, but not the concept.

He indicated that some paragraphs of the latest text are more in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and that two paragraphs (53 and 54) have been added to the section on follow-up and review. One of these paragraphs (53) encourages all UN Member States to develop “as soon as practicable” ambitious national responses for the implementation of the global compact, and to conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national level. The other one (54) requests the president of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to launch and conclude “open, transparent and inclusive” intergovernmental consultations to determine the precise modalities and organizational aspects of the International Migration Review Forum.

Co-facilitator Juan José Gómez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico, said ‘Rev Draft 3’ is a comprehensive, “sophisticated,” policy-focused agreement developed in a context in which global politics on migration are becoming very complex. He warned delegates about being “over-creative,” and encouraged them to instead limit their comments to technical adjustments and calibration of the text, adding that “we have a great product and it’s time to harvest it.”

Morocco, as the host country of the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact, said delegations should not be talking about “hard lines,” but rather find ways to get over their differences in order to achieve consensus, and they should not focus on only one sentence or “a comma” when providing comments but consider the compact “as a whole.” He said the eyes of 244 million of international migrants “are on us” this week, and urged delegates to show that the international community is there to assist them.

Providing general comments on the revised draft, Canada remarked that the text is human rights-based, gender-responsive and child-sensitive. El Salvador congratulated the co-facilitators for their “innovative” working methods that respect the “human rights” of delegations involved in the negotiations of the compact since, he said, they have never had to work until 3 am. He expressed hope that delegations will agree on the text by 3 pm on 13 July. Among other countries commending the draft were Morocco and New Zealand.

The Group of Friends of Children and the SDGs noted the direct impact of migration policies on children, and said children’s suffering is entirely preventable.

Several countries voiced concerns about child detention. Uruguay, on behalf of a group of States including Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nepal and the Philippines, said children should never be detained because of their own or their parents migration status, and requested restoring language from an earlier draft of the text on ending the practice of child detention in the context of international migration. Brazil said ending child detention is in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Comoros, for the African Group, also called for ending the practice of child detention, and underlined the right to family unity and exploring alternatives to detention. Jamaica, for the Group of Friends of Children and the SDGs, which includes 49 Member States, said the impact of migration policies on children is real and direct, and children’s suffering is unnecessary and entirely preventable.

Liechtenstein and El Salvador were among those expressing disappointment that ‘non-refoulement’ was removed from the text. Paraguay asked to reinstate it in the text, but India remarked that its inclusion would politicize the debate.

Among other comments, Comoros for the African Group, announced that the African Union (AU) has decided to set up an African Observatory for Migration and Development, and requested a reference to this initiative in the text. Tunisia said it organized, jointly with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a national multi-stakeholder consultation on the draft compact in May, as well as a regional dialogue in July that brought together representatives of 18 States and international organizations. He outlined a number of recommendations from these consultations, including: ensuring close links between the specific objectives and the commitments of the compact and the 2030 Agenda; ensuring that the rights of migrants are known by all, including by the migrants themselves; strengthening regional cooperation for labor mobility; taking into consideration the humanitarian dimension of migration; ensuring border management based on international human rights law; promoting financial inclusion; and ensuring the strengthening of capacities of national and international organizations to implement the global compact.

New Zealand expressed disappointment that sexual reproductive healthcare is no longer reflected in the compact, and Brazil said basic services should be allowed to all migrants. Turkey reiterated the need to further clarify the difference between regular and irregular migration. Australia asked for the text to emphasize legal pathways for migration.

India said the reference to climate-induced displacement should be dealt with in the global compact on refugees, not in the one on migration. Liechtenstein suggested making the text more consistent with the 2030 Agenda, and strengthening links with the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

Regarding the compact’s objective on the use of immigration detention only as a measure of last resort, Singapore said custodial detention is necessary for border management, and asked to delete a sentence on prioritizing non-custodial alternatives to detention that are in line with international law. In the section on implementation, South Africa said the text should include an explicit reference to the voluntary nature of the capacity-building mechanism, consistent with the voluntary nature of the global compact.

On follow-up and review, Brazil proposed to mandate UNGA 73, instead of UNGA 74, to start discussing modalities of the International Migration Review Forum, so delegates can start exchanging views on this topic when returning from the Intergovernmental Conference in Morocco in December 2018. Comoros, for the African Group, proposed including text on the establishment of an “implementation matrix” that would be voluntary, and could include the identification of partnerships, of existing resources for implementation, and of best practices, among other components.

On the sidelines of the negotiations, a series of events are taking place related to migration, including on: addressing ethical recruitment in global labor mobility; the impacts of vanishing waters and drying lands on migration; ways to meet the needs of migrants without sacrificing security or sovereignty; and the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) perspective on migration for sustainable and resilient societies.

At the end of June, IOM member states elected António Manuel de Carvalho Ferreira Vitorino of Portugal to serve as IOM Director General, beginning on 1 October 2018. Vitorino will succeed William Lacy Swing, US, who is serving his second five-year term as IOM chief. Established in 1951, the IOM joined the UN system as a related organization in September 2016, as part of the outcome of the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants. [SDG Knowledge Hub story on third revised draft] [Compact negotiations website] [UN press release on IOM Director General’s election] [All SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of migration compact process]

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