Thursday, February 28, 2019
Kathleen Newland for the Migration Policy Institute analyzes the new Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration—the first comprehensive framework of principles and objectives to guide international cooperation on migration. The Global Compact was adopted by a majority of states at the end of 2018.
As Newland observes, the compact emerged from a sense of crisis, with large-scale, unanticipated migration in a number of regions driving home to governments the limitations of attempting to manage such flows unilaterally. As the author of this brief notes: “States turn to international cooperation when unilateral action fails them, as it did spectacularly at the climax of 2015, and they are convinced that their goals are more likely to be reached by collaborating with others.”
The adoption of the compact in December 2018 was the culmination of a drama that unfolded in twists and turns. Since the UN General Assembly announced in 2016 that such a compact was to be crafted, negotiators have grappled with how to reconcile the interests of origin, transit, and destination countries, and the compact has had to withstand virulent criticism that it threatens national sovereignty.
In reality, as the brief explores, the kind of collaboration outlined in the compact promises to give states tools to reinforce their sovereignty—to better control how and under what conditions migration happens, improving outcomes for both states and the migrants involved. Looking ahead, the effectiveness of the nonbinding document will depend largely on the steps governments take to implement their commitments under the compact, and to support others in doing so.