UN countries agree on pact to manage mass global migration

by Ellen Wulfhorst | @EJWulfhorst | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 13 July 2018 21:56 GMT

Migrants, part of a group intercepted aboard a dinghy off the coast in the Mediterranean Sea, rest after arriving on a rescue boat at the port of Malaga, Spain May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

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The non-binding agreement aims to make migration safe and orderly amid issues of national sovereignty and international cooperation

By Ellen Wulfhorst

UNITED NATIONS, July 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The United Nations agreed on Friday on wide-ranging ways to cope with the millions of migrants moving from country to country, overcoming "mistrust" and "difficult" issues to draw up the first-ever migration pact, officials said.

The non-binding agreement, approved by all 193 member nations except the United States that pulled out last year, aims to make migration safe and orderly amid issues of national sovereignty and international cooperation, U.N. officials said.

The move came after the migration crisis in Europe in 2015, which saw the biggest influx of refugees and migrants since World War Two, officials said. The crisis strained resources and triggered fear of foreigners and nationalist tensions.

Some 250 million people around the world are migrants, according to U.N. data, or 3.4 percent of the global population.

"Migration is a fact. It has been here for centuries. It is here to stay for centuries more," Miroslav Lajčák, president of the U.N. General Assembly, told a media briefing.

"But we have never had an instrument that helps us to govern, to manage this process. We have been in reactive mode."

The official Global Compact For Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration addresses why people migrate, how to protect them, how to integrate them into new countries, means of returning them home and other issues.

Ambassador Jurg Lauber of Switzerland, who helped run the pact negotiations, called it a "catalog of measures" rather than a "one-size-fits-all" set of rules.

"The strength, the force of the document is its practical value," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation ahead of Friday's agreement.

Formal adoption is set for December in Morocco.

It was agreed by 192 member nations after the United States quit the negotiations saying it was not compatible with U.S. sovereignty.

Hungarian media reported on Friday that Hungary's foreign minister may propose that Budapest pull out of the pact because it could aid the flow of migrants to Europe. Reaching agreement on the pact required overcoming distrust among adversarial nations, said Ambassador Juan José Gómez Camacho of Mexico, who also helped run the talks. He said one objective of the pact is battling human trafficking which was "a cancer of the phenomenon on migration."

"The issue of migration is highly political, and there is naturally distrust or mistrust between countries on this," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "We needed to strengthen the trust, build trust."

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith

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