By IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub

6 April 2018: Delegates debated the root causes of migration that the Global Compact on Migration should address, whether the text should include new commitments, as well as whether to emphasize the non-legally binding nature of the document. Many supported a strong focus on children and the gender dimension of migration, with Australia calling to also add reference to people with disabilities. This third round of intergovernmental negotiations on the Compact convened from 3-6 April 2018, in New York, US.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is being prepared for adoption at an intergovernmental conference to convene from 10-11 December 2018, in Morocco. Negotiations on the text are taking place in six rounds between February and July 2018, in New York, led by co-facilitators Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland, and Juan José Gómez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico.

While Jamaica noted that all migration brings positive development outcomes, Austria, for a group of 27 European States, and China said that, when mentioning the positive role of migration in development, the text needs to read “regular” migration.

Many countries, including Austria, for a group of 27 European States, Norway and Australia, welcomed the stronger language of the revised draft on human rights and the protection of vulnerable migrants. Russia said the strong language on human rights is not justified.

Brazil, for the community of Portuguese speaking countries, Austria for a group of 27 European States, Norway, and Mexico welcomed strengthening the gender dimension of migration in the text.

Comoros, for the African Group, and Ethiopia stressed that the root causes of migration such as poverty and development would require the implementation of projects in countries of origin, thus call for a new, separate objective and actionable area on international cooperation on financial support for countries of origin to implement projects that address the root causes of migration, as well as for a special fund and a capacity building mechanism. Austria, for a group of 27 European States, expressed concern that the language on root causes of migration – such as corruption, access to justice, respect of human rights, good governance, rule of law, and strong civil society – has been reduced. South Africa noted that conflict as root cause would be better placed in the Global Compact on Refugees, while in the Global Compact on Migration, the root cause should be underdevelopment and addressed through, inter alia: infrastructure development; market access; investment in agriculture; technology transfer; investment in education and training; and respecting official development assistance (ODA) commitments.

Chile, for a group of countries including Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, Uruguay, Brazil, and Bangladesh, said paragraph 39 of the revised draft, which recognizes “the discretion of all States to determine their national legislation and policies with regards to the implementation of the actions envisaged in this Global Compact” is problematic as it leaves it to the discretion of the Member States to implement the actionable commitments and weakens an already nonbinding document. China insisted on changing the term “actionable commitments” in “policy options and best practices,” explaining that the Compact should not create new commitments for Member States. Brazil stressed that the sovereignty of the State is not absolute, but it is limited by international law. Thus, States are sovereign to decide who are irregular and regular migrants, within the parameters of international law. Japan called for flexibility in implementation and follow-up. Austria, for a group of 27 European States, and Australia warned against using prescriptive language in the text, suggesting “should” or “could” instead of “must” or “commit.”

Several countries, including the African Group, Chile, for a group of countries including Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, Uruguay, Brazil, and Bangladesh, Tuvalu, and the Holy See welcomed the inclusion of reference to migrants affected by the slow onset of climate displacement in the document. Nauru, for the Pacific Small Island Developing States (P-SIDS), said the Compact should include calls for the international community to plan for the management and support of climate-related migration. Ethiopia said climate change and natural disasters should be approached as root causes and addressed under each objective and actionable area. Canada called for adding language on climate migration in the Guiding Principles section. China said climate change causes refugees and not migrants, thus it should be addressed in the Global Compact for Refugees. Russia requested the deletion of references to the Paris Agreement on climate change and to the UN Convention to Combat Diversification (UNCCD).

The African Group and the Holy See called for the abolishment of migration detention camps and detention of migrants. Pakistan noted that the draft focuses too much on drivers of migration in countries of origin and too little on creating opportunities in destination countries. Austria, for a group of 27 European States, and Australia called for emphasizing the duty of nations to accept the return of their nationals, consistent with human rights law.

Jamaica, for the Group of Friends of Children and the SDGs, called for measures to support family reintegration and for legal pathways for low-skilled families to migrate with their children. The need to protect migrant children was also emphasized by Chile, for a group of countries including Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, Uruguay, and Bangladesh, Brazil, for the community of Portuguese speaking countries, Guatemala, Turkey, Venezuela, Norway, Mexico, Panama and the Republic of Moldova.

On implementation and follow-up and review, Austria for a group of 27 European States, expressed hope to receive a proposal on the capacity building mechanism, information on the financial implications of the proposals in the text, as well as clarifications of who are the actors involved in each of the proposals (States regions, the UN, stakeholders).

Several countries, including China and Russia, requested clear emphasis in the text on the non-legally binding nature of the Compact. Bangladesh and Uganda stressed that references that the document is not legally binding makes the text weak.

The next round of negotiations will take place from 14-18 May 2018 in New York, US. [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on revised draft] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on second round of negotiations] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on first round of negotiations] [Negotiations webpage] [SDG Knowledge Hub sources] [SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of migration compact]

Source:: IISD – International Negotiations

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