A Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration 

United Nations

United Nations, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

03.11.2018 - Article

For the first time, the overwhelming majority of states have agreed on common goals on managing migration. What is it about and what is in the Compact?

To read the text of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, click here

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is the result of a comprehensive process of discussion and negotiation among the representatives of all member states of the United Nations. The large majority of UN member state – more than 180 countries – now intend to agree to the Compact in Marrakech, Morocco on 10/11 December 2018. The Compact is not an international agreement and is not legally binding.

1. What is the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration?

Migration is a global reality. Managing it is one of the most pressing challenges of multilateral politics. It requires international cooperation. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) is intended to provide the international framework for this.

2. How is the Global Compact structured and what is in it ?

The Global Compact begins with a preamble and ten guiding principles, including national sovereignty, the non-binding character of the document under international law and the commitment to the universality of human rights. Then 23 objectives for safe, orderly and regular migration are outlined. Among other things, these objectives include:

• Minimising structural factors in connection with irregular migration
• Strengthening safe, orderly and regular migration routes
• Combating human smuggling and trafficking on a transnational basis
• Improving cooperation on border management
• Strengthening and protecting the rights of children and women
• Ensuring access to basic services.

3. Will the Global Compact result in national sovereign rights being relinquished or curtailed?

No. Upholding national sovereignty is a guiding principle of the Global Compact: “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.” (Paragraph 15 c of the Global Compact). National sovereign rights will neither be curtailed nor transferred. The Global Compact will not be an international agreement and will therefore have no legal effect on national legal systems.

4. Will the Global Compact incur costs?

No. As it is not legally binding, the Global Compact will not incur any direct obligatory costs. UN member states can pay voluntary contributions to the United Nations and its agencies.

5. Will the Global Compact establish a right to migrate?

The Compact will not create any new legal categories. It expressly points out that national sovereignty will be upheld, especially when it comes to residence and border issues. At the same time, the Global Compact explicitly stresses the human rights of all migrants. This includes support for migrants in especially dangerous situations, in particular children, in line with valid obligations under international law.

6. What impact will the Global Compact have on irregular migration? Will it increase migration?

The aim of the Compact is to make migration orderly and regular by improving international cooperation. Negative structural factors in countries of origin which lead to migration should be minimised (Objective 2), smuggler and human trafficking combated transnationally (Objectives 9 and 10) and border management better coordinated. Regular migration, on the other hand, which is necessary in many parts of the world due to demographic realities and in order to meet the needs of the labour market, should be facilitated.

7. What positive effects can regular migration have?

Some examples are:

• Skilled workers: It is a known fact that the German labour market needs skilled workers.
Options for regular migration can help meet this demand.

• Contribution to social and economic development: the magnitude of remittances by migrants to their countries of origin amounted worldwide to approx. 600 billion US dollars in 2017; of that amount, approx. 450 billion US dollars went to developing countries – that is three times as much as total official development aid.

8. Will the Global Compact curtail freedom of expression?

No. Objective 17 of the Global Compact talks of evidence-based public discourse and full protection of freedom of expression. However, decisive action is to be taken against racism and discrimination against migrants.

9. When, how and where will the Global Compact be adopted?

The Global Compact is to be adopted at a summit in Marrakech (Morocco) on 10/11 December 2018. In line with United Nations practice, the state representatives will not sign the Compact. The adoption will take place by way of consensus or a vote. Once the text has been adopted, it will be sent to the UN General Assembly where it will be formally endorsed in the form of a short resolution in January 2019.

10. Does the German Government support the adoption of the Global Compact?

Yes. The aim of the Global Compact is to respond at international level to the many challenges of migration and it defines measures to tackle abuse as well as to highlight and take advantage of the opportunities offered by migration. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is a building block for a comprehensive migration policy by the German Government.

11. How were the public and the Bundestag involved?

The United Nations and the German Government strove to involve the public in the negotiation of the Global Compact from the outset. The German Government made its position on the Global Compact accessible to the public online (at refugeesmigrants.un.org) at every stage of the drafting process.  To this end, the Federal Foreign Office published several tweets on the process during every round of international negotiations. 

The Bundestag and civil society were also involved from the start. During the negotiations there were five major rounds of consultations and hearings at the United Nations. All parliamentary groups in the Bundestag were invited to take part. Some of them accepted the invitation and participated in the consultations and hearings.

Once the negotiations had been completed, the German Government actively sought on many occasions to make information on the Global Compact available in government press conferences and in the social media. The Federal Foreign Office published an article on the Global Compact back in July. Foreign Minister Maas also highlighted the Global Compact in his opening speech at the Bali Democracy Forum in Berlin on 14 September.


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