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African migrants arriving at the naval base of Tripoli, Libya. African migrants arriving at the naval base of Tripoli, Libya.   (AFP or licensors)

UN agrees on first-ever Global Compact on migration

For the first time ever, United Nations member states on Friday agreed to an all-encompassing Global Compact to better manage international migration.

By Robin Gomes

After more than a year of discussions and consultations among UN member states, local officials, civil society and migrants themselves, the text of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was finalized on Friday at the UN headquarters in New York.

At the final intergovernmental negotiations on the historic deal, co-facilitators, Mexican Ambassador Juan José Gómez Camacho and Swiss Ambassador Jürg Lauber, hit the gavel marking the agreement.

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A remarkable achievement

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the agreement as "a significant achievement."  

Louise Arbour, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on International Migration, was also optimistic after the agreement was adopted by consensus.

“I think member states of the UN today have every reason to be very self-congratulatory,” she told reporters at a press conference, stressing “it was a remarkable process, it was a remarkable achievement.”

Agreement by 193 member states to cooperate

The non-binding agreement on 23 objectives, approved by all 193 member nations except the United States that pulled out last year, aims to make migration safe and orderly amid issues of national sovereignty and international cooperation.

Friday’s historic agreement though had a sour note.  Hungary's foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, told diplomats that his government disagrees with key points and will discuss "the possibility of disassociation" from the compact at a meeting on Wednesday.

Recalling the moral vision of the UN chief, Arbour pointed out that beyond every discussion about what it means - whether it is legally binding or not legally binding - it is an agreement by member states to cooperate.

She noted that the Global Compact is about people, not trade, capital and  goods, though all of them have huge economic impact.  Hence the agreement is people-centered and forward-looking.

Looking forward to Marrakesh

The agreement will be formally adopted at a  ministerial meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Dec. 11-12. 

Arbour very much hopes the Marrakesh gathering will be “the launching pad” for initiatives, partnerships, innovative practices, concrete applications, pledges and commitments.

Human mobility a trait of humanity

Human mobility, Arbour said, will be with us, as it has always been.  Its chaotic, dangerous exploitative aspects cannot be allowed to become a new normal.”

The UN estimates there are some 250 million migrants around the world, or 3.4 percent of the global population. According to Mckinsey Global Institute, in all of the world’s developing nations combined, migrants generated roughly $600 billion, or a mere 3 percent of their global gross domestic product (GDP).

14 July 2018, 15:00