UN conference adopts pact on migration despite withdrawals

MARRAKESH • A United Nations (UN) conference adopted a migration pact in front of leaders and representatives from around 150 countries in Morocco yesterday, despite a string of withdrawals driven by anti-immigrant populism.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — finalised at the UN in July after 18 months of talks — was formally approved in Marrakesh at the start of a two-day conference.

Billed as the first international document on managing migration, it lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration and discourage illegal border crossings, as the number of people on the move globally has surged to more than 250 million.

Describing it as a “roadmap to prevent suffering and chaos”, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres sought to dispel what he called a number of myths around the pact, including claims that it will allow the UN to impose migration policies on member states. The pact “is not legally binding”, he said.

“It is a framework for international cooperation…that specifically reaffirms the principle of state sovereignty. We must not succumb to fear and false narratives,” he added, addressing an audience that included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

The US was the first government to disavow the negotiations late last year and since then, Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia have pulled out of the process.

The US last Friday had hit out at the pact, labelling it “an effort by the UN to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of states”. — AFP / AFP PHOTO