First UN pact on migration adopted in Morocco

MARRAKES: A United Nations conference adopted a migration pact in front of leaders and representatives from around 150 countries in Morocco on Monday, 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 with the bang of a gavel in Marrakesh at the start of a two day conference.
But the United States and 15 other countries either opted out or expressed concerns, with some claiming the pact infringes national sovereignty.
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 “road map 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 co-operation… that specifically reaffirms the principle of state sovereignty.
“We must not succumb to fear and false narratives”, he told an audience that included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela and Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras.
Merkel launched an impassioned defence of the pact and multilateralism, saying her country “through Nazism brought incredible pain to humanity”.
“The answer to pure nationalism was the foundation of the United Nations and the commitment to jointly searching for answers to our common problems,” she said.
The pact, said Merkel, seeks to prevent, rather than encourage, illegal migration. “This is about safe orderly and regular migration — it says (this) clearly in the title.”
On Friday, the US hit out at the pact, labelling it “an effort by the United Nations to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of states”.
It was the first country 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.
Rows over the accord have erupted in several European Union nations, hobbling Belgium’s coalition government and pushing Slovakia’s foreign minister to tender his resignation.
From the United States to Europe and beyond, right-wing and populist leaders have taken increasingly draconian measures to shut out migrants in recent years. — AFP