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What is the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM)?
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration provides the first international and non-legally binding cooperative framework on migration. It is the result of a comprehensive process of discussions and negotiations among all Member States of the United Nations that started with the New York Declaration in 2016, unanimously adopted at the UN General Assembly in 2016. The European Union and its Member States engaged in the discussions on the Global Compact on Migration from the very beginning, which resulted in a Global Compact that largely reflects European objectives.
What is the Global Compact on Migration aiming to achieve?
Migration is a global reality, which no country can address on its own. It therefore requires global solutions and global responsibility sharing, based on international cooperation. The Global Compact on Migration aims to foster international cooperation by setting out guiding principles and providing for a multilateral political framework. It deals with the complex nature of international migration by addressing a wide range of migration-related aspects, such as border management, smuggling and trafficking in human beings, migrant documentation and return and readmission, as well as diasporas and remittances.
Ten principles such as the universality of human rights, national sovereignty, and the non-legally binding character of the document guide the application of the Global Compact on Migration. It outlines 23 concrete objectives for safe, orderly and regular migration as points of reference for States when applying their national migration policies.
How will the Global Compact on Migration affect irregular migration? Will it increase migration?
The aim of the Global Compact on Migration is for migration to take place in a safe, orderly and regular manner. It includes concrete actions that will help States to reduce irregular migration, for example through enhanced cooperation on addressing the drivers of migration, fighting trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants, managing borders and facilitating return. It will also help to focus on pathways for regular migration. The Compact, as an international cooperative framework, will also underpin the EU’s existing work with third countries and international organisations, such as the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). All these aspects correspond closely to the EU’s priorities and objectives.
How will the Global Compact on Migration be adopted or signed?
The text of the Global Compact on Migration will be adopted at an Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, which will take place on 10 - 11 December 2018. There will be no signature: the adoption of the text will take place by way of consensus or a vote, with at least a two-thirds majority needed. As a next step, the UN General Assembly will be asked to formally endorse the Global Compact on Migration in the form of a Resolution.
Will the European Union participate at the Marrakesh Conference?
In line with its status in the sessions and work of the United Nations General Assembly, the European Union has been invited to participate in the Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakesh as observer. The EU will participate in the discussions. Only UN Member States will take part in the decision-taking.
Will the European Union participate in the UN General Assembly endorsing the Compact?
The UN General Assembly will be asked to formally endorse the Global Compact on Migration in the form of a Resolution. The European Union has an observer status in the United Nations General Assembly, which means it participates in the discussions but does not take part in the voting.
Does the Global Compact on Migration create legal obligations for States?
The Global Compact on Migration is not legally binding. Therefore, no legal obligations arise under domestic or international law for participating States.
Will the Global Compact on Migration have any implications on national sovereign rights? Will it have any impact on the allocation of competences within the European Union?
No. The Global Compact on Migration is based on the principle of full respect of national sovereignty. To quote: “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.” The Global Compact on migration does not entail any transfer or restriction of national sovereign rights or competences. It is not an international agreement and will therefore have no legal effect on national legal systems and neither do obligations arise from it. The Global Compact can also not change the allocation of competences between the European Union and its Member States.
Does the Global Compact on Migration establish a “human right to migrate”?
No. The Global Compact aims at improving cooperation on international migration. It does not encourage migration, nor discourage it. The Compact will not create any new legal categories. It emphasises that migrants are entitled to the same universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, as any human being. It does not contain language to promote a “human right to migrate”.
Will the Global Compact incur costs?
No. Due to its legally non-binding character, the Global Compact will not create any direct financial obligations. The implementation of the Global Compact will be supported by the Capacity-Building Mechanism in the UN. UN Member States can contribute to the United Nations and its agencies on a voluntary basis.
What will be the follow-up of the Global Compact on Migration?
Within the UN System, the UN Migration Network will ensure the follow-up and monitoring process, which is about sharing experience, helping Member States to overcome shortcomings, and searching for solutions to a global problem. The IOM will serve as its coordinator and secretariat. UN Member States will discuss and share progress through the International Migration Review Forum, which will take place every four years beginning in 2022.
For more information
Speech delivered by Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management Christos Stylianides on behalf of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, at the European Parliament Debate on the Global Compact on Migration, 13 November 2018.
See here the full text of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.