Global Compact for Migration

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Global Compact for Migration
Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
PR Logo GCM.png
Drafted13 July 2018
Signed19 December 2018 (2018-12-19)[1][2]
LocationNew York, USA
LanguagesArabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) is an intergovernmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, that covers "all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner".[3]

At the Intergovermental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which was held from 10–11 December 2018, 164 nations met under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly at Marrakesh, Morocco, in order to formally agree upon the Compact.[3][4] As the Compact is not an international treaty, it will be non-binding under international law. However, as with similar United Nations agreements, it will formally be a politically binding commitment.[5]


The escalation of the Syrian Civil War and the rise of ISIS led to an increase in the number of refugees in the Middle East and the European refugee crisis of 2015-2016. During the crisis several European governments refused to abide by the Dublin Convention and as a result, a new agreement on asylum policies was needed.

On 19 September 2016, the nations of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The Declaration recognized a need for more cooperation between nations to manage migration effectively.[6] The declaration set off a process leading to the negotiation of the Global Compact for Migration.

A resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 6 April 2017, which decided on the modalities and timeline for the compact.[7] The agreed upon process consisted of the following three phases:

  1. Consultations (April–November 2017): six sessions in Geneva, New York City and Vienna
  2. Stocktaking (December 2017–January 2018), leading to a first draft ("zero draft")
  3. Intergovernmental negotiations (February–July 2018) at the UN Headquarters in New York City.

On 9 March 2017, Louise Arbour was appointed by Secretary-General Guterres as his Special Representative for International Migration and was thus tasked with working with the nations and stakeholders to develop the compact.

On 10 December 2018, the compact was approved by 164 nations during the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.[8][9]

Substance of the agreement[edit]

There are 23 objectives and commitments listed in the draft agreement. These include collecting and using accurate and anonymized data to develop evidence-based migration policy, ensuring that all migrants have proof of identity, enhancing availability and flexibility for regular migration, encouraging cooperation for tracking missing migrants and saving lives, ensuring migrants can access basic services, and making provisions for both full inclusion of migrants and social cohesion.[10]

The draft agreement recognises the principles of national sovereignty:

"The Global Compact reaffirms the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law. Within their sovereign jurisdiction, States may distinguish between regular and irregular migration status, including as they determine their legislative and policy measures for the implementation of the Global Compact, taking into account different national realities, policies, priorities and requirements for entry, residence and work, in accordance with international law."[11]

The agreement calls for governments to "educate" journalists,[12] including directives on "terminology" media professionals are to use,[13][11] and "to hold 'culinary festivals' to celebrate multiculturalism".[12]

The agreement makes no distinction between illegal and legal migrants,[14] but does distinguish repeatedly between regular and irregular migrants, affirms the right of states to distinguish between regular and irregular migration status,[15] and commits signatories to "preventing irregular migration".[16] The text does not make a distinction between economic migrants and refugees.[17]


During and subsequent to the Marrakesh conference[edit]

Brazil: affirmed support for the document at the Marrakesh conference, but the future Jair Bolsonaro government chancellor announced that Brazil will backout support to document, citing "immigration must be treated in accordance with the reality and sovereignty of each country".[18]

Complete map of European countries that signed and did not sign as of December 14, 2018.
  Confirmed signed
  Confirmed not signed
  No data
  Not a UN member

Prior to the Marrakesh conference by country[edit]

Austria,[19] Australia,[20] Bulgaria,[21] Chile,[22] Croatia,[23] the Czech Republic,[24] Dominican Republic,[25] Estonia,[26] Hungary, Italy,[27] Israel,[28][29] Latvia,[30] Lithuania, Poland,[31] Slovakia[32] and Switzerland[33] did not attend an international conference in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh to adopt the agreement. The United States did not participate in the negotiation of the agreement, at the behest of President Trump.[19]

Australia: The Prime Minister stated that the agreement could “undermine Australia’s strong border protection laws and practices,” and would not sign it.[34]

Albania: Albania has already signed the document.[35]

Belgium: In Belgium, government party N-VA, including its Secretary of State for Migration Theo Francken came out against participating, while the three other government parties remained in favour, creating a political deadlock.[36] All the parties (N-VA, OpenVLD, CD&V and MR) did in fact agree on the compact and Charles Michel announced Belgium's favourable position at the General Assembly of the UN on September 27, 2018.[37] Unfavourable election results for N-VA and Austria's position on the compact had the N-VA change its position. It is understood the N-VA was put under extreme pressure of the extreme right party Vlaams Belang. On December 4, the Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, announced that the issue would be taken to parliament for a vote.[38] On 5 December, parliament voted 106 to 36 in favor of backing the agreement.[39] Michel stated that he would endorse the pact on behalf of the parliament, not on behalf of the divided government.[40] Consequently, N-VA quit the government; the other three parties continue as a minority government (Michel II).

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosnia and Herzegovina has already signed the document.[35]

Brazil: The incoming foreign relations ministry of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro said that Brazil will pull out of the pact.[41]

Bulgaria: On 5 December, the government announced that it would not sign the agreement; its representatives would vote "abstained."[42]

Chile: On 9 December, the government announced that it would not sign the agreement[43][44]

Denmark: On 27 November, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen stated that he was supportive of the agreement, but that his government would form a coalition of European countries to create an opt-out.[45]

Dominican Republic: On 4 December 2018, the Dominican government set its position on the Global Migration Pact, stipulating that the Dominican state would not sign the agreement, as reported during a press conference by the legal consultant of the Executive Branch, Flavio Darío Espinal. He also spoke about the participation of the country in the Moroccan summit and announced that the President Danilo Medina would not be in the meeting.[25]

Estonia: The Government of Estonia remained divided on the issue[46] and the country's position was to be decided by the Riigikogu.[47] On November 26, Riigikogu passed a declaration which supported the compact. According to the Estonian Prime Minister, the declaration would provide the basis for the Governments decision to support the Global Compact for Migration.[48] On 27 November 2018, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that no Estonian official would be present in Marrakesh. Instead, Estonia's ambassador to the UN would vote in support of the compact on 19 December, during the gathering of the United Nations General Assembly.[49]

Finland: In Finland, the opposition Finns Party opposes the treaty and demands a vote in parliament.[50] The provisions disputed by the Finns in parliament are that both legal and illegal immigrants would be bestowed many of the same rights such as rights to basic services, that the treaty would not allow categorical detention of illegal immigrants,[51] and that the treaty would make migration a human right.[52][53]

Germany: There has been some opposition in the German parliament, led by Alternative for Germany.[54] Merkel's CDU complained the Compact makes no distinction between economic migrants and refugees.[17][55] However, the parliament voted 372–153 in favour of the compact on 29 November.

Israel: Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu stated that "We have a duty to protect our borders against illegal infiltrators. That’s what we’ve done, and that’s what we will continue to do".[29]

Italy: The Italian government has decided to not attend the conference in Marrakesh and let the parliament decide whether to adopt the compact.[56]

Latvia: On 6 December 2018, the Latvian parliament voted for rejecting the compact.[57]

Lithuania: On 4 December 2018, the Lithuanian parliament voted for a resolution which acknowledged the need for international cooperation in dealing with the challenges that migration creates and that no state can solve them alone. It also noted that the compact is not legally binding and that the state itself chooses how to implement the goals of the agreement.[58]

Luxembourg: The opposition parties Déi Lénk and the Pirate Party support the pact whereas ADR does not. The Parliament will vote on whether supporting the pact or not.[59]

Montenegro: Montenegro supports the pact.[35]

Netherlands: The Migration Pact led to public debate in the Netherlands after Forum for Democracy asked for a parliamentary debate, based on worries about the supposed "encouragement of migration" and the legal consequences of the signing. On 5 December, a clear majority of the parliament approved the backing of the Migration Pact.[60] The cabinet ensured it would add a legal addendum, which would state that the Migration Pact can not be used as a viable juridical document and therefore can not be used be as legal support in asylum claims.[61]

New Zealand: The opposition National Party opposes the compact because "We don't need to be told by the UN what to do." and "the pact that treats illegal and legal migration the same."[62]

Poland: On 9 October 2018, Minister of Interior and Administration Joachim Brudziński spoke against the compact, saying that it went against the priorities of Poland which were security and control over its borders.[31] On November 20, the government of Poland officially announced that it would not sign the compact.[63]

Romania: On 28 November 2018, the Romanian Foreign Minister was authorized by the Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, to sign the Migration Pact. Sources say that secret negotiations were carried out long before the news broke out.[64][65]

Slovakia: After a dispute broke out within the Government of Slovakia on whether to adopt the framework,[66] it was decided that the issue would be moved to parliament for discussion. Following this, the Slovakian Foreign Affairs Minister, Miroslav Lajčák, announced that he would contemplate his resignation if the parliament rejected the compact.[67] On 29 November 2018, after the parliament had voted to refuse the compact, the Foreign Affairs Minister decided to resign,[68] but later withdrew his resignation.[69] On 5 December, following his cabinets approval of the parliamentary resolution, the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Peter Pellegrini, affirmed that Slovakia would not send a representative to the UN meeting.[70]

Slovenia: Slovenia will endorse the agreement.[71]

Switzerland: Switzerland will not attend the conference for the formal adoption of the framework in December 2018. The decision was made because the parliament demanded a final say on whether the country would approve the compact, which would require more time.[72]


The Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, stated that the compact would reduce Austria's sovereignty and mix up the difference between illegal and legal immigration as well as that between economic and humanitarian immigration.[19]

The Australian government has criticized the agreement, claiming that it does not distinguish between legal and illegal migrants, particularly when it comes to welfare. They have also claimed that the compact could impose obligations to support migrants even when they have returned to their country of origin. The Australian government believes that the compact would undermine their current migration policies.[73][74][75][76]

Goal 17, which condemns discrimination against migrants, has been criticized due to measures for "shaping the perception of migration". Dutch MEP Marcel de Graaff raised issues with the proposal to defund news outlets espousing anti-migration rhetoric and stated that the pact could be used to criminalize political criticism.[77][78]

In December 2018, a protest march planned by the 'far-right' in Brussels which had drawn interest from 45 000 people on social media was banned by the mayor of Brussels.[79][80]

See also[edit]


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  5. ^ Peters, Anne (21 November 2018). "The Global Compact for Migration: to sign or not to sign?". EJIL:Talk!.
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  7. ^ Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 6 April 2017, International Organization for Migration
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  9. ^ Ghani, Faras (10 December 2018). "UN members adopt global migration pact".
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  11. ^ a b "Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration - Intergovernmentally Negotiated and Agreed Outcome, 13 July 2018" (PDF). United Nations. Retrieved 5 December 2018. educating media professionals on migration-related issues and terminology
  12. ^ a b "European governments in melt-down over an inoffensive migration compact". The Economist. 8 December 2018. Retrieved 10 December 2018. The compact is hardly perfect; the drafters should have refrained from urging governments to “educate” journalists on migration, for example, or to hold “culinary festivals” to celebrate multiculturalism.
  13. ^ Edouard de Mareschal (10 December 2018). "What's inside the migration world agreement supported by France?". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 10 December 2018. «sensibiliser et éduquer les professionnels des médias» sur ces questions. Cela peut aller de directives sur la «terminologie» à employer
  14. ^ Catherine Gouëset (10 December 2018). ""The Migration Pact Can Change the Game"". L'Express (in French). Retrieved 10 December 2018. Le pacte, en effet, ne fait pas la distinction entre migrants légaux ou non
  15. ^ Section 15, p.4
  16. ^ Section 27, p.18
  17. ^ a b Ben Knight (8 November 2018). "German parliament rows over UN Migration Compact". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 10 December 2018. members of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) had raised the same point earlier in the week, complaining about government secrecy (especially on the part of the Social Democrat-led Foreign Ministry) and the fact that the compact did not distinguish between refugees and economic migrants.
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External links[edit]