Editing Office - Geneva
UN Photo/Mark Garten UN Secretary-General António Guterres and UN Special Representative for International Migration, Louise Arbour, hold a stakeout after the opening of Global Compact for Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco. 10 December 2018.
December 2018 / Migrants and Refugees
The Global Compact for Migration was adopted on Monday by leading representatives from 164 Governments at an international conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, in an historic move described by UN Chief António Guterres as the creation of a “roadmap to prevent suffering and chaos”.
Speaking at the opening intergovernmental session, Mr. Guterres, said that the Compact provides a platform for “humane, sensible, mutually beneficial action” resting on two “simple ideas”. “Firstly, that migration has always been with us, but should be managed and safe; second, that national policies are far more likely to succeed with international cooperation.” The UN chief said that in recent months there had been “many falsehoods” uttered about the agreement and “the overall issue of migration”. In order to dispel the “myths”, he said that the Compact did not allow the UN to impose migration policies on Member States, and neither was the pact a formal treaty. “Moreover, it is not legally-binding. It is a framework for international cooperation, rooted in an inter-governmental process of negotiation in good faith,” he told delegates in Marrakech. The pact would not give migrants rights to go anywhere, reaffirming only the fundamental human rights, he said. Mr. Guterres also challenged the myth that developed countries no longer need migrant labour, saying it was clear that “most need migrants across a broad spectrum of vital roles.” Acknowledging that some States decided not to take part in the conference, or adopt the Compact, the UN Chief expressed his wish that they will come to recognize its value for their societies and join in “this common venture.” The United States did not endorse the Compact, and more than a dozen other countries either chose not to sign the accord or are still undecided. Marrakech Compact, reality vs myth The Moroccan minister of foreign affairs, Nasser Bourita, banged his gavel announcing the adoption of the Compact, while outlining the various efforts his country has made to bring about global consensus on international migration. Along with Climate Change, unregulated migration has become a pressing issue in recent years. Every year, thousands of migrants lose their lives or go missing on perilous routes, often fallen victim to smugglers and traffickers. Mr. Guterres welcomed the overwhelming global support for the pact, saying that for people on the move, “voluntary or forced; and whether or not they have been able to obtain formal authorization for movement, all human beings must have their human rights respected and their dignity upheld.” The adoption of the pact, now known as Marrakech Compact, coincides with the 70th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document which is central to the pact. Mr. Guterres said “it would be ironic if, on the day we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we would consider that migrants are to be excluded from the scope of the Declaration.” After the adoption, the UN chief told journalists that “it was a very emotional moment” for him when he saw “the members of the conference unanimously in acclamation” adopt the Compact. It was fitting that the conference is taking place in Marrakech, Morocco, a major migration route for centuries. UN data shows that globally more than 60,000 migrants have died on the move since the year 2000, prompting the Secretary-General to call it “a source of collective shame.”