The United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, slated to be approved in Morocco, will be the first such UN agreement to be inter-governmentally negotiated to cover all areas of international migration.
The pact, drafted in response to the 2015 refugee crisis, aims to set out a “a common understanding, shared responsibilities and unity of purpose regarding migration,” laying out a vision in 23 objectives.
While it might seem that such a description would perhaps bring countries together, it appears to be doing just the opposite. Some nations have directly said they won’t be part of it, while participating nations have seen protests from citizens.
The most recent pushback happened in Belgium on Sunday, when Prime Minister Charles Michel announced that his government was set to continue as a minority, after the center-right New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) quit his coalition because it disapproved of the accord.
US President Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon even weighed in on the pact in Brussels, telling a gathering at the Flemish parliament that the pact was “dead even before it’s been signed.” He spoke at the request of the Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang, which has been a vocal opponent of the UN text.
Washington has been against the pact since the beginning, with US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley stating in December 2017 that her country’s immigration policies should be “always made by Americans and Americans alone.”
Israel and Australia weren’t initially against the pact, which was negotiated and agreed by global diplomats in July 2018. However, they pulled out last month, citing sovereignty concerns as their reason for the turnaround.
“We have a duty to protect our borders against illegal infiltrators,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “That’s what we’ve done, and that’s what we will continue to do.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed a similar sentiment, stating that the pact could “undermine Australia’s strong border protection laws and practices.”
Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Slovakia recently backed away from the pact, joining earlier rejectors Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria. Vienna bluntly stated last month that migration is not a human right.
After serious consideration following public opposition, the Netherlands intends on going ahead, but plans on issuing a “statement of position” at the summit which will stress that the Dutch government will not be legally subjected to following the guidelines outlined in the pact.
The Netherlands isn’t the only place which has experienced pushback from residents. Canada, which is also going ahead with supporting the pact, saw anti-migration demonstrators flock to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Saturday. They were met with counter-protesters who support the pact. A total of nine people were arrested, CBC reported.
The Canadian government has defended its support of the pact, stressing that it’s not a legally binding treaty.
In Estonia, an MEP was physically attacked by supporters of the country’s anti-immigration party last month, due to the fact that he supports the pact.
Yet few politicians are talking about the source of the crisis. In November, Germany’s Angela Merkel who lost much of public support over her government’s handling of the issue, claimed that her government made only one mistake in its immigration policy, and it wasn’t made when the refugees were pouring into Germany. Rather, that mistake happened when Berlin failed to care enough about asylum seekers fleeing Syria and Iraq for refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey.
The migrant crisis which spurred the pact to be drafted is, according to many analysts, a direct result of Western actions. “The expansion of walls across the EU and the increase in refugees are correlated with the spate of illegal wars the United States and its NATO allies have fomented in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia over the past three decades. The wars are the cause, the refugees are the effect,” journalist Finian Cunningham wrote in a recent RT op-ed.
Still, the majority of the UN’s 193 member states are still expected to approve the pact in Marrakesh on Monday. The text was approved in July following 18 months of negotiations.
Although the text is not legally binding and is being seen as more of a declaration, it is worded in a way which encourages domestic courts and authorities to consider it when making decisions based on interpretations of the law.