Politics & Policies

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration – A commitment to pursue 23 objectives

Global governance of international migration received an upgrade in 2018. For the first time—and not without controversy—governments succeeded in negotiating an agreement to cooperate to make migration work better, with less danger and greater rewards. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration is the first comprehensive framework of principles and objectives to guide international cooperation on migration that has been formally negotiated and adopted by states.1 The compact unfolded as a drama with a number of twist and turns before reaching a resolution when a resounding majority of states adopted it at a United Nations special conference in December 2018, and then endorsed it in the UN General Assembly later that month. That achievement was slightly tarnished as several coun- tries, including some major countries of immigration such as the United States and Australia, refused to support the compact.

The compact emerged from a sense of crisis, which reached a peak in 2015 and brought home to many governments that unilateral action is not effective in coping with large, unanticipated, and unauthorized flows of migrants. Collaboration is needed not only among source, transit, and destination countries, but also between governments and other stakeholders such as private-sector, civil-society, and local government actors. The compact aims to help states realize the greatest benefits from international migration, while reducing the negative forces that impel people to leave their homes and bring order and greater safety to the migra- tion process.

The heart of the compact is a commitment to pursue 23 objectives (see Appendix A), with 187 associated actions from which states will draw to realize those goals. The objectives range from the very specific and noncontroversial, to more wide-ranging and controversial, to very general and, presumably, long-term. It also includes a section on implementation,which includes an ill-defined “capacity-building mechanism,” and welcomes the UN Secretary- General’s decision to establish a UN Network for Migration. Together with the entry into the UN system of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as a related organization in 2016, the network gives the United Nations unprecedented capacity to help its Member States implement their commitments under the compact.

The Global Compact is not legally binding and cannot be expected to revolutionize the gover- nance of migration immediately. Its effective- ness over time will depend on how serious states are about delivering on their commit- ments. A major constraint is the unwillingness of governments, thus far, to provide multilateral agencies the resources they need to be effective in helping states to implement the compact.

Some compact opponents charge that it under- mines national sovereignty. In reality, the kind of collaboration outlined in the compact is a way for states to reclaim sovereignty—to exert greater control over migration processes and their outcomes by working with all stakehold- ers. The goal of better governance of migration is not to stop movement, but to gradually transform it from a crisis to a normal part of human life and a more manageable aspect of international relations.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at  Global Governance of International Migration 2.0: What Lies Ahead? | migrationpolicy.org


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