Statement by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in the plenary on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in the German Bundestag

29.11.2018 - Speech

Almost the entire international community has agreed on a united approach. After years of negotiation, and that on a topic as controversial as migration.

In our debate today on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration we are thus discussing something that is above all a remarkable success for international cooperation.

At a time when nationalism is being preached around the world and the established principles and foundations underlying our international cooperation and relations are being questioned, the Global Compact constitutes a courageous and encouraging example of functioning multilateralism.

Ladies and gentlemen,
The Global Compact is the international community’s answer to a challenge which has no purely national solutions.

Migration is as old as the human race. Migration is, of its very nature, a global phenomenon. It affects each and every one of us. It is in our own best interests to seek to manage it and regulate it in concert. This is underscored by the words of the Global Compact, which is therefore an important document and the right way forward for us all.

Ladies and gentlemen,
However, the statements made over the past weeks, and no doubt today as well, seem to reveal a greater capacity for outrage than evidence of close reading.

Facts are being twisted intentionally and malicious claims are being made, for example that the Compact limits the rights of sovereign states to take decisions on migration issues and would result in uncontrolled mass immigration.

The truth is – and this is clearly stated in the preamble to the Compact – that national sovereign rights are in no way limited nor are they assigned to any other agency.
You have to at least take note of that, even if it doesn’t suit your ends.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Another point on which the Global Compact is clear is that human dignity is indivisible. This is true for each and every one of us, including the 250 million plus migrants who live in the world. Vowing to uphold this principle should be a matter of course.
Is anybody really suggesting that human dignity attaches to some people but not to others?

Ladies and gentlemen,
The German Government has been accused of a failure of transparency. I want to respond to this allegation here, in this chamber. The German Government involved the public in the negotiation of the Global Compact from the outset.

You can look for yourselves – information about the Compact and the negotiations was posted openly in the social media, on the internet and elsewhere. We provided updates on the negotiations at several high level conferences on migration.

The Bundestag was also involved and debated the Compact earlier this year, in April. Before the negotiations began in earnest, there were five major rounds of consultations and hearings at the United Nations, which were open to interested non state stakeholders. Regrettably, not all parliamentary groups made use of this opportunity. You can guess which groups they were.

Ladies and gentlemen,
I would moreover like to state here that we were not only transparent in our dealings with the Bundestag. The Government also informed the public, equally openly, about the negotiations, the outcomes and the content of the Compact. Numerous media representatives were also told about the negotiations.

Not everything that we passed on was reported on. Therefore let me say to those who have complained in the media that not enough information was made public, if you blame other people, you may find more of the blame directed back at you.

When we say the Compact is a success, this is in part because we can, in my opinion, look confidently at the final product.

For the first time ever, we now have an international declaration of intent to regulate migration. We define common goals which seek in particular to reduce irregular migration and its negative impacts.

This is the guiding principle expressly stated in the Compact. That is why we in Germany will also benefit from the adoption of this Compact.

It is in Germany’s interest, too, for it also encourages better provision for migrants in their regions of origin, it seeks to address the reasons people have for migrating and to ensure that they can be supported in their home areas. That was a demand that we, the German Government, made from the outset and pushed in the negotiations.

Therefore one of the Compact’s objectives is to ensure that people have livelihoods in their homelands. The consequence would be less, not more, global migration.

But that, too, seems too difficult for some people to grasp.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me make another point. Germany benefits more than most other countries from international cooperation and multilateral action.

And therefore we are those who should best know that the major challenges – and migration is without a doubt one of them – can only be mastered if the world takes concerted action.

That is why we urge other countries to commit to multilateral action and call on them to do many of the things that we in Germany have long since done in the field of migration.
When it comes to taking action against criminal gangs of people smugglers, when it comes to facilitating repatriation, if everybody had made as much progress on the issue of migration as we have – and many have declared their willingness to do so in their political declarations of intent – then there would in future be fewer problems in the world connected with this issue.

Therefore we should support this Compact and in this way support all those who have declared themselves willing to work towards these objectives.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me close by saying that credibility is also an issue. There are countries that stayed to negotiate the Compact, but which have absented themselves from its ultimate adoption.

That is something every country has to decide for itself.
But how credible is it to take part in the negotiations, to co author the text of the Compact and then, because of a rushed and not entirely factual domestic debate, to abandon the project? I don’t understand what some people are thinking. But I don’t necessarily have to understand it either.

All I know is that it’s high time for this Compact. The world’s problems are becoming ever more closely interlinked. Closing your eyes to that is simply naive.
The Global Compact is not an international conspiracy. It is an act of reason. And as such it deserves our approval.


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