GCM Conference 2018 – Opening Press Briefing (Marrakech)

A compact for safe, orderly and regular migration that is cooperative, not binding! The distinction between the GCM and GCR is highlighted. The narrative for each compact is different. GCM is a reference point for action now and in the future. The spread of misinformation on the compact needs to be stopped. This is an ‘adoption’ conference, not a ‘negotiation’ conference. Member states have spent 6 months negotiating this compact, since July 2018.

There is no question of ‘surrendering sovereignty’. No new legal obligation is created via this compact. States’ interdependence is inevitable in the issue of migration. Most of the compact is ‘business as usual’ but the ‘business’ of migration needs to be conducted and managed better. This forms the framework of the GCM. The focus is on collaboration and cooperation based on trust. Treaties and conventions on human rights, humanitarian law, etc. remain applicable to all migrants. Regional migration management vs national migration management – regional migration is becoming more prominent.

Currently, 159 countries have registered their attendance. An agreed text will be adopted during the conference. Countries that have pulled out of the process to date are Austria, the Czech Republic, Australia, the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, and the US. Countries engaged in further internal deliberations in their respective parliaments, on the GCM are Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Italy, Israel, Slovenia and Switzerland. Representatives from 150 countries will attend the GCM conference. Some states that are not sending representatives are not in any way dissociating themselves from the compact. Approximately 100 states are represented at the head of state, head of government or ministerial level.

The GCM will neither undermine, nor borrow obligations from the ICRMW (International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families – very weakly ratified). Better international cooperation is required to mitigate irregular and forced migration. All UN agenda on development, conflict prevention, preservation of human rights, adverse effects of climate change, etc. that will impact human mobility, is part of the GCM.

The overwhelming majority of the 258 million global migrants are regular and make enormous contributions to origin and destination economies. The narrative of migration should not be confused with that of refugees – 258 million migrants vs 25 million refugees worldwide. Migration needs to happen to compensate for labour shortages and for skills development so that workers can be exported to meet demand. This should be the narrative for migration.

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