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The UN Global Compact for Migration has not been widely welcomed

Updated: Nov 13, 2018

Countries are backing down from the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), as the official adoption date approaches.

The GCM is set to be the first internationally negotiated agreement that covers all aspects of migration to ensure proper handling of migrants and migration flows. It aims to promote cooperation among countries regarding policy and safety, safeguarding the dignity of migrants and supporting countries that receive large numbers of refugees and migrants. The pact is set to be implemented after a conference on international migration in Marrakesh, Morocco in December.

However, the United States recently refused to sign it, after the Obama Administration originally backed it, and Austria, Hungary, Czechia, Croatia, and most recently Poland, have all opted out of it.

They all point to issues of state sovereignty that will have to be sacrificed to adopt these norms, stating that national borders cannot be regulated under international law.

The main issue surrounding the compact is that some world leaders, namely right-leaning nationalists like Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz Christian Strache, refuse to consider migration a human right, saying that individuals do not have an intrinsic right that entitles them to enter and remain in a country because of conflict or natural disasters.

Individual countries have their own migration regulations that are not compatible with a universal pact, and signing it would entail relinquishing autonomy over a very divisive topic in Europe, namely one that has been used as a political tool to stir up conservative and rural electorates.

On the other hand, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who worked “extensively” on the pact, assures that there are no legally binding clauses, and that national sovereignty is not interfered with. It is a matter of mutual understanding regarding migrants’ safety after the 2015-2016 unprecedented number of migrants arriving in Europe.

Author: Ana Hernandez

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