A United Nations conference adopted a migration pact in front of leaders and representatives from over 160 countries in Morocco on Monday, despite a string of withdrawals driven by anti-immigrant populism.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — finalised at the UN in July after 18 months of talks — was formally approved with the bang of a gavel in Marrakesh at the start of a two-day conference.
But the United States and at least 16 other countries either opted out or expressed concerns, with some claiming the pact infringes national sovereignty.
Billed as the first international document on managing migration, it lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration and discourage illegal border crossings, as the number of people on the move globally has surged to more than 250 million.
Describing it as a “roadmap to prevent suffering and chaos”, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres sought to dispel what he called a number of myths around the pact, including claims it will allow the United Nations to impose migration policies on member states.
The pact “is not legally binding”, he said. “It is a framework for international cooperation.”
“We must not succumb to fear and false narratives”, he told an audience that included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela, Greek premier Alexis Tsipras, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen and Spain’s premier Pedro Sanchez.
Merkel launched an impassioned defence of the pact and multilateralism, saying her country “through Nazism brought incredible pain to humanity”.
“The answer to pure nationalism was the foundation of the United Nations and the commitment to jointly searching for answers to our common problems,” she said.
She insisted the pact seeks to prevent, rather than encourage, illegal migration. “This is about safe, orderly and regular migration — it says (this) clearly in the title.”May to ask Merkel to help change Brexit divorce deal