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GCM Approved in Morocco and Endorsed in New York

January 18, 2019

The UN's Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), which includes 23 objectives to improve the management of international migration, was approved by 164 of the UN’s 193 member states in Marrakesh, Morocco in December 2018, and then formally adopted by the UN’s General Assembly in New York (refugeesmigrants.un.org). Austria, Australia, Israel, Hungary and other East European countries, as well as the US, did not sign the GCM.

The US statement said: “We believe the Compact and the process that led to its adoption, including the New York Declaration, represent an effort by the UN to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of States to manage their immigration systems in accordance with their national laws, policies, and interests.” Belgium’s minority government fell after its PM signed the GCM, prompting the Flemish separatist party known as the N-VA to withdraw its support.

The GCM is not legally binding, but the US and other countries nonetheless argued that it impinges on national sovereignty. President Trump, addressing the UN General Assembly September 25, 2018, said “The only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again.”

Reactions to the GCM suggest that migration may move into the realm of regime rather than normal politics. Normal politics involve issues on which there is broad agreement on the ends, but disagreement on the means to achieve them, such as agreement that immigration is mutually beneficial for immigrants and Americans but disagreement on exactly who and how many immigrants should be admitted. Regime politics involve disputes over ends, such as whether to be open to immigrants or not.

Globalization has increased flows of capital and labor over national borders. Some talk of migration as the “missing global regime” because there is not a World Migration Organization analogue to the WTO to encourage countries to open their doors wider to immigrants.

Objectives for safe, orderly and regular migration