The new Global Compact for Migration
The GCM is a political agreement among the world’s States to provide what Pope Francis encourages - the shared global management of international migration. The GCM is not a binding convention or a legal treaty. It has been adopted by almost all States in Morocco on 10-11 December 2018.
The GCM establishes norms based on the current policies and practices of its adherents. It is meant to help them cooperate, share responsibilities and resolve the principal problems posed by migration. It presents a programme that is open, varied and based on universal ethical principles.
As the full title of the GCM suggests, migration needs to be less dangerous, safer, more beneficial and less costly both for the migrants themselves and for those who welcome them. The Holy See contributed actively to the process of developing the GCM.
Pope Francis expressed the fundamental values that ought to shape each State’s commitment. It is essential to ground responsibility for the shared global governance of international migration “in the values of justice, solidarity and compassion. This demands a change in mindset: we must move from considering others as threats to our comfort, to valuing them as persons whose life experience and values can contribute greatly to the enrichment of our society.”
The Pope referred to the GCM also in his address to the Diplomatic Corps on 7 January 2019 (w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/it/events/event.dir.html/content/vaticanevents/it/2019/1/7/corpo-diplomatico.html). He underlined that it “represents an important step forward for the international community, which now, in the context of the United Nations is for the first time dealing on a multilateral level with this theme in a document of such importance.” But he also expressed reservations regarding the documents mentioned in the GCM “that contain terminology and guidelines inconsistent with its own principles on life and on the rights of persons.”
The text of the GCM
After a preamble which characterizes the GCM as “a milestone in the history of the global dialogue and international cooperation on migration,” the document invokes ten interdependent principles running through it – for example, People-centred, Human rights, Rule of law and due process. Sustainable development.
The heart of the Compact is a cooperative framework made up of 23 Objectives or commitments – for example, to save lives, to prevent smuggling and trafficking, to provide accurate information, to facilitate fair recruitment, to reduce vulnerabilities in migration, to manage borders well and to invest in skills development.
Each objective is followed by multiple policy instruments and best practices – for example, offering education, opening humanitarian corridors, accompanying migrants in countries of transit, and promoting intercultural encounter to foster integration in countries of arrival. The GCM concludes with Implementation, Follow-up and Review.
How to use the GCM
For the first time, a single document collects the best practices that States already use internally, bilaterally and even regionally, depending on each country’s circumstance and policy needs, to govern migration more effectively.
The entire international community now has a confirmed reference point. No longer should anyone be unaware or confused about globally agreed minimum standards regarding migration practices. Nor should any State see migration solely from its own perspective. To exercise due governance of migration, each State will want to take the many different aspects and factors of migration into account.
As a toolkit, the GCM will help States to cooperate to meet the most urgent needs of migrants at all stages: departure, transit, arrival, integration and potential return. The GCM is also a resource for civil society organisations, popular movements, religious organisations and NGOs to advocate with authorities and work more effectively on behalf of vulnerable people on the move.
The GCM in Europe
Europe was most engaged in the process of drafting and implementing the GCM, thanks also to many local networks involved in the issues.
The European Union stresses that the GCM reinforces its principles for the governance of migration: “solidarity, shared responsibility, multilateralism and engagement.” Highlighting the non-legally binding nature of the GCM and its stated respect for national sovereignty, the EU regrets “the decision of some member states not to support the GCM.”
To implement the GCM
No State can address migration on its own. The GCM injects a positive and constructive orientation into discussions and decision-making at the international, regional, bilateral, national and even local levels. Moreover, it acknowledges the various and interconnected responsibilities of countries of origin, transit and destination and adds the new category of “return” which the Holy See proposed.
The GCM promises cooperation in responding to various interrelated challenges of human mobility. This video expresses the Holy Father’s teaching and his hopes for implementing the GCM. It will require “the coordination and efforts of all actors, among whom you will surely always find the Church.”
Michael Czerny S.J.
Undersecretary, Migrants & Refugees Section
Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Holy See
The views expressed in europeinfos are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of COMECE and the Jesuit European Social Centre.