Opening of ​GCM Conference 2018 – Marrakech

The GCM will not compromise sovereignty. It reaffirms migrants’ entitlement to human rights, regardless of their status. South-south migration is larger than south-north migration. Developed countries need migration. A befitting beginning to a momentous occasion. Though only 20% of migrant mobility is unregulated, the raw number of 60,000 irregular migrant deaths calls for urgent action at the local, national, regional and global levels. The desire for opportunity, dignity and a better life is not exclusive to non-migrants. It is a fundamental human desire. Be it voluntary or forced migration; be it formal or informal human mobility; human rights are for all and human dignity must be upheld.

As societies become more multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious, there must be corresponding political, economic, social and cultural investments in cohesion. Migration should be well managed and safe, not irregular and dangerous. National policies are more likely to succeed in a global environment of cooperation. This would be especially relevant to smaller states, developing states and migrant-sending states. Remittances sent by migrants are three times the Official Development Assistance (ODA) rendered. Migrants also spend 85% of their earnings in the host country. The aim of the GCM is for migration to be an act of choice, not one of desperation. It also provides a framework for managing population movements due to the adverse effects of climate change.

This conference is an excellent platform for countries to discuss their concerns collectively. This is a great opportunity for a universal appreciation of the challenges encountered by origin, transit and destination countries. It must be understood that migration trends are evolving in ways that blur demarcations of these three categories of states. For instance, origin countries of some migrants have also become transit and destination countries of others. Treaties and conventions, which are legally binding have not had the expected success. The GCM strives to be a better alternative. Its unique feature is in its underlying soft principles of voluntariness, cooperation and consensus.

Support from the private sector endorsed by the International Organisation of Employers is a positive sign. Skills development is a priority. Rigid migration policies hamper progress. The call for collective and coordinated action from the private sector is necessary, especially during a time of scattered and fragmented individual efforts that yield minimal benefits. The Employers’ Marrakech Declaration is a significant effort to facilitate and improve the process of multilateralism.

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