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  • U.S. migration agents conduct practices near the border wall located in Baja California, Mexico on Nov. 30, 2018.

    U.S. migration agents conduct practices near the border wall located in Baja California, Mexico on Nov. 30, 2018. | Photo: EFE FILE

Published 7 December 2018

About 128 member countries of the United Nations are expected to adopt a multilateral agreement on migration.

The member countries of the United Nations (UN) will meet, on Dec. 10, in Marrakech, Morocco to adopt the 'Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.' This will be the first non-binding multilateral document on the subject of migration.

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United Nations Migration representative Louise Arbor warned non-signatory countries that they should analyze "where [their attitude] leaves them as international actors."

The prospects of the Marrakech summit are uncertain. While the event will be attended by two-thirds of UN member countries, the most powerful nations will be absent.

The United States, Italy, Australia and Israel - countries that are net recipients of migrants - announced that they will not join the Pact. The absentee nations argue that, besides affecting their sovereignty, the Global Compact does not distinguish between legal and illegal migration.

However, Arbor stressed that the Global Compact neither contains specific obligations nor threatens national sovereignty.

The Marrakech summit will take place at a moment when alarmist discourses on migration have taken hold in many countries, like the United States, where President Donald Trump has placed significant emphasis on migration control.

Following Trump's strong-handed speech against migrants, the European Union has yet to consolidate a single position for the Marrakech summit.

Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Poland are firmly opposed to the pact. While Italy will not join the agreement "for the moment," the Belgian Government is experiencing internal struggles over the issue.

Only Germany and Spain will support the Global Compact in Marrakech with attendance by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and president of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez.

Few days before the Marrakech conference, European Immigration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopulos called on countries opposed to the pact, to reconsider their position. "[The Pact] is a clear signal to our partners in Africa that we really want to cooperate on an equal footing with them," said Avramopoulos.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, lamented about how Europe is addressing the migration issue. "The current political language... is ruining [the concept of the right of asylum] that is something that belongs to European culture and is part of the founding values of the European Union." 

Grandi made reference to the alarmist, xenophobic discourse on migration that has allowed several extreme right-wing parties to accede to government, and promote very restrictive policies with immigrants.


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