UN adopts global migration pact rejected by US and others

The US said the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration represents “an effort by the United Nations to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of states to manage their immigration systems.” (File/AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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UN adopts global migration pact rejected by US and others

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said developed nations needed migration
  • Ten countries, mostly in formerly Communist Eastern Europe, have pulled out

MARRAKESH, Morocco: The United Nations on Monday adopted a deal aimed at improving the way the world copes with rising migration, but almost 30 countries stayed away from the ceremony in Morocco.

The pact, meant to foster cooperation on migration, was agreed in July by all 193 UN members except the US, but only 164 formally signed it at the meeting on Monday.

Ten countries, mostly in formerly Communist Eastern Europe, have pulled out. Six more, among them Israel and Bulgaria, are debating whether to quit, a UN spokesman said after the pact was adopted. He did not say whether the rest of the countries absent from the conference in Marrakesh might also pull out.

With a record 21.3 million refugees globally, the UN began work on the non-binding pact after more than 1 million people arrived in Europe in 2015, many fleeing civil war in Syria and poverty in Africa.

But President Donald Trump’s administration said the global approach to the issue was not compatible with US sovereignty.

Since July, the accord, which addresses issues such as how to protect migrants, integrate them and send them home, has been criticized by mostly right-wing European politicians who say it could increase immigration from African and Arab countries.

Angela Merkel, accused by critics of worsening the refugee crisis by opening Germany’s borders in 2015, said cooperation was the only answer to tackle the world’s problems.

“The pact is worth fighting for,” the German chancellor, one of around a dozen national leaders in Marrakesh, told the forum. “It’s about time that we finally tackle migration together.”

Without naming Trump or his “America First” stance, she said multilateralism was the way “to make the world a better place.” 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said developed nations needed migration.

“In the many places where fertility is declining and life expectancy is rising, economies will stagnate and people will suffer without migration,” he said in his opening address.

On Sunday, Chile withdraw from the pact, while Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel saw the biggest party in his coalition quit in a dispute over the accord.

In November, Austria’s right-wing government, which holds the EU presidency, said it would withdraw, saying the pact would blur the line between legal and illegal migration.

Australia said it would not sign up to a deal it said would compromise its hard-line immigration policy. 


Facing populist assault, global elites regroup in Davos

Updated 20 January 2019
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Facing populist assault, global elites regroup in Davos

DAVOS: As the world’s financial and political elites convene here in the Swiss Alps for the World Economic Forum, their vision of ever-closer commercial and political ties is under attack — and the economic outlook is darkening.
Britain’s political system has been thrown into chaos as the country negotiates a messy divorce from the European Union. Under President Donald Trump, the United States is imposing trade sanctions on friend and foe alike, and the government is paralyzed by a partial shutdown that forced Trump and a high-level US delegation to cancel the trip to Davos.
French President Emmanuel Macron is sinking in the polls as he contends with “yellow vest” protesters. Nationalist political movements are gaining strength across Europe.
And experts are downgrading forecasts for global growth this year.