Immigration                                                                      UN: Rifts on the Marrakech Pact to regulate migration

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"Growth engine" or scarecrow? Migration, the subject of a Global Compact submitted for approval at a summit in Marrakech on 10 and 11 December, unleashes passions in a period of crisis on several continents.


In July, with the notable exception of the United States, all UN countries had adopted the Pact in New York after lengthy negotiations. Non-binding, the document of some 25 pages, the first of its kind on this subject, identifies principles – defense of human rights, children, recognition of national sovereignty – and about twenty proposals to help countries cope to migrations by facilitating information, the integration of migrants, the exchange of expertise … The Pact prohibits in particular arbitrary detentions, allowing arrests only as a last resort.

Serial withdrawals

By 2017, Donald Trump's new Republican administration had left the talks, saying that the provisions of the Pact were contrary to his migration policy and his desire to end illegal arrivals from Central America.

Since July, withdrawals or postponements of decision accumulate, casting a serious shadow on the summit to come in Marrakech

Since July, withdrawals or postponements of decision accumulate, casting a serious shadow on the summit to come in Marrakech. "It is crucial that international migration unites us rather than divides us," the text insists.

The UN Special Representative for Migration, the Canadian Louise Arbor, on Tuesday swept the critics, blaming the xenophobia and domestic policies flip-flops recorded. "It is not a treaty but a framework" that is proposed for a "global subject", she said, emphasizing the non-binding nature of the text.


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In the summer, Hungary had quickly aligned itself with the American position and, as the summit approached in Morocco, several other countries also just gave up or freeze their decision, as on Wednesday Italy, which chose leave it to his Parliament. Among them are Australia, the Czech Republic, Israel, Poland, Austria, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Belgium … And even Switzerland, faced with a parliamentary opposition. It was a shame, while the Pact was negotiated for 18 months under the leadership of this country and Mexico, co-facilitators for the global consensus reached in July.

According to them, the 27 countries of the European Union had spoken throughout the negotiations "with one voice". Some of them are now raising fears of seeing migrants overthrow. The text is "dangerous", it will "incite millions of people to take the road," said Budapest. He does not "guarantee the security of Poland," added Warsaw.

"Not very precise" arguments

All these arguments "are not very precise," argues Louise Arbor, letting his misunderstanding emerge as the text "protects the sovereignty" of the states: "Let's hope that these countries will join the Pact in the future". "It may mean that they take the issue seriously," believes the President of the UN General Assembly, Ecuadorian Maria Fernanda Espinosa. "The history of humanity is the story of peoples in motion," she recalls.

"Migrants are an extraordinary engine of growth" and this "Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regulated Migration … is an unprecedented step to increase international cooperation," the Secretary-General of the UN said in July. Antonio Guterres. According to him, 60,000 migrants have died since 2000 at sea, in the desert or elsewhere. "The Global Compact will not impose anything on anyone, but it offers solutions," summed up the Mexican co-facilitator, Ambassador Juan José Gomez Camacho.

NGOs welcomed the adoption of the text, while calling for the removal of barriers preventing migrants from accessing humanitarian aid

The number of migrants in the world is estimated at 258 million, or 3.4% of the world's population. Several NGOs, such as Amnesty International and the International Federation of the Red Cross, welcomed the adoption of the text, while calling for "the removal of barriers that prevent vulnerable migrants from accessing humanitarian assistance and basic services". ".

After the Marrakech summit, where the text must be formally approved without signature, a resolution is planned at the General Assembly. With a final approval without a vote and by consensus, we still hope for the UN. For the future, a coordination network on migration could be established within the UN, according to Louise Arbor.