The Progressive Post

Why not to sign the Global Compact given it addresses a crucial need?

There are no good reasons not to subscribe the GC, namely only nationalistic ideology and short-term domestic political calculations.


I present three strong considerations, based on facts, in favor of the Global Compact, stressing that it is a document providing guidelines and principles, not specific regulations and policies left to the sovereign decision of states. It turns out that there are no good reasons not to subscribe the GC, namely only nationalistic ideology and short-term domestic political calculations.


There are two crucial facts, which must be kept in mind when discussing of the global compact. Firstly, migration is not a contingent phenomenon, or the result of a specific emergency: human beings have always moved from the beginning of their history, for a number of reasons, but basically to improve their living conditions, and they are not going to stop now. Actually there are now more reasons for people to move, due to the fact that the present world is highly interconnected, that the inequalities between rich countries and poor countries are wide, that wars and conflicts are present in many developing countries, and that climate change has pushed many people to look for a better environment. Even though specific causes may increase migration at certain moments, so as to engender something like an emergency, like a war or a natural disaster, nevertheless, migration is a structural phenomenon of human life, and we must come to terms with it, looking for a management which is at the same time realistic and fair, principled and pragmatic.

Migration is not a contingent phenomenon, or the result of a specific emergency

Secondly, no single country can manage migration in both a principled and pragmatic way on its own. Basically, all countries are affected by migration: either as countries of origin, or as countries of transit or of final destination. More often the same country can be all three at the same time, considering different groups of migrants and of its own citizens. It is in the interest of all governments to have clear guidelines for orderly migration where human rights are respected and human trafficking banned.

Why a global compact on migration is needed and urgent
The consideration of these two facts, namely migration as a permanent trait of human societies, and the impossibility of any single country to manage efficiently and fairly the phenomenon, explains why a global compact on migration is needed and urgent. The global compact does not provide specific regulations concerning border control, visa policy, and so on, which are rather left to the sovereign decision of countries, and to regional or international treaties that each country has subscribed and will subscribe in the future. Rather it provides the theoretical and ethical framework within which specific migration policies should be placed for granting the rights of all people involved, migrants as well as nationals.

In a way, the global compact specifies what human rights, subscribed in the UN declaration, prescribe with reference to the phenomenon of migration. Yet, there is something more than the reaffirmation of the rights of migrants, refugees and vulnerable peoples, for it takes into account the pragmatical constraints within which migration must be managed, from any country’s right to border control to economic reasons for limiting the intake of migrants, from cultural problems of integration, to security alarms and so on. The global compact on migration, thus, provides a good balance between considerations of justice and considerations of stability, both at the domestic level and at the international level

Most problems and issues caused by immigration waves derive from the context of human trafficking and illegality

Another consideration to keep in mind concerning the Global Compact is the following: most problems and issues caused by immigration waves derive from the context of human trafficking and illegality where migrants are pushed by the absence of legal, clear and transparent ways to move. Regular migrants are usually easily integrated in the country of arrival, while undocumented migrants cannot work in the legal market, and are either prey of black market organizations or end up in criminal activities. Thus it is in the interest of all agents and agencies involved to have an orderly migration, according to clear rules, which any country can define according to its specific needs and economic contingencies, but also taking into account the values of solidarity and respect for human dignity.

History should have taught us that no walls, or armed borders can stopped peoples moved by famine or war, at least not for long. Hence both self-interest and sense of justice should push governments to manage migration in a principled and orderly way; and the Global Compact precisely provides the guidelines to move in that direction. In conclusion, the question should be reframed: instead of “why to sign the Global compact?” it should be “Why not to sign the Global Compact?”. And the motivations not to sign are not good reasons: nationalist ideology and short-term domestic political calculations.

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