Global Compact for Migration


On Dec. 10, 2018, 164 countries approved the "Global Compact for Migration" (GCM) in Marrakech, Morocco. The GCM was a carefully negotiated document that is an important contribution towards shifting the global narrative on migration towards respecting the human rights of all migrants and stressing adherence to international laws.

Participating in the Intergovernmental Conference to approve the Compact in Marrakech, NNIRR joined civil society partners to share a joint statement that lifted up several critical issues.

Many organizations from around the world worked from the beginning of an 18-month process to press for a strong rights-based outcome within a toxic environment. (In the photo above, a standing ovation at the conclusion of negotiations at the UN in New York on July 13, 2018.)

Member states, agencies, civil society and other institutions continue to develop plans for the important work of implementation, follow-up and review of the GCM, a non-binding document.

The UN has established the UN Network on Migration to oversee implementation of the Compact and provide support to Member States. Civil society remains engaged with this new network, participating in various working groups on implementation and providing critical input.

On the eve of the Stocktaking meeting, the Trump Administration withdrew the U.S. government from the Compact process (while remaining in the process around the Global Compact for Refugees).

Here is the Final Draft of the Compact

Read the Joint Statement by Civil Society at the conclusion of the negotiations.


The "Zero Draft" of the Compact was released on February 5, 2018 and monthly negotiations took place at the UN in New York. 

NNIRR has participated with civil society partners from around the world as an observer to the negotiations, but with opportunities to engage with governments and various UN bodies throughout. Civil society groups have played an important role in pressing for consistent, rights-based language and commitments in the Compact, even though it will remain a "non-binding" document.

Read the NNIRR statement shared with the Compact co-facilitators (the Ambassadors from Mexico and Switzerland) during the May round of negotiations. The statement emphasized the need to retain specific language on the concept of "regularization", as well as, an expansion of legal pathways for migration.

NNIRR statement to Co-Facilitators, Feb. 22, 2018. This statement emphasized the need to consider factors for alternatives to returns or deportations of irregular migrants.

Click here to view photos from our Facebook album from the initial negotiations in February.

Background to the Compact:

Over the past several years, the growth of large-scale, mass movements of migrants and refugees, including horrific stories of thousands of people drowning in the Mediterranean and suffering through long and dangerous journeys—as well as public backlash to these “newcomers”—spurred the United Nations to convene a High Level Summit on Refugees and Migrants in New York, in September 2016. Together with year-long preparations, the Summit produced an outcome document called the “New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants”.

The New York Declaration included a number of commitments for both migrants and refugees, along with separate sets of commitments for migrants and for refugees. In particular, the Declaration called for the development of two “global compacts”—one on refugees, and one on migrants, for “safe, orderly and regular migration”.

The Global Compact on Refugees, calling for a “comprehensive refugee response framework,” is being developed under the auspices of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The UN Secretary General appointed Ms. Louise Arbour to act as the Special Representative for International Migration and as the Secretary-General of the international conference on international migration, to be in Morocco in December 2018. The intergovernmental consultation process has been co-facilitated by H.E. Mr. Juan José Gómez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations, and H.E. Mr. Jürg Lauber, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations.

Multiple stakeholders have been involved in the preparatory process, including six UN “thematic” hearings in 2017:

·      Human rights of all migrants (May 8-9, Geneva)

·      The drivers of migration (May 22-23, New York)

·      International cooperation and governance of migration (June 19-20, Geneva)

·      Contributions of migrants and diasporas (July 24-25, New York)

·      Smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery (September 4-5, Vienna)

·      Irregular migration and regular pathways (October 12-13, Geneva)

In addition, seven regional civil society consultations were organized in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, U.S.-Canada and the Pacific, all with financial support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Can the UN Global Compact for Migration Advance Migrant Rights?

Over 80 participants from the U.S. and Canada met in a "regional civil society consultation" in late September in 2017. This regional process is co-organized by NNIRR, AFL-CIO, Alianza Americas, Solidarity Center and colleagues in Canada.

Download the report from the US-Canada consultation: color version or black and white version.

Completing the “consultation phase” of the Compact development process met in a “stocktaking” meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on December 4-6, 2017, with member states and other stakeholders, including civil society representatives, who met separately prior to the stocktaking meeting. 


Global Compact for Migration. Final Draft, July 2018. To be approved in Marrakesh in December, 2018.

Global Compact on Refugees.

New York Declaration The outcome document of the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants, September 2017, which proposes the creation of the two global compacts, on migration and on refugees.

Zero Draft of the Global Compact for Migration The first draft of the Global Compact, released on Feb. 5, 2018

Making Migration Work for All, Report of the Secretary General and a contribution to the shaping of the Global Compact for Migration

Key Issues for the Global Compact by the Global Coalition on Migration, NNIRR international partner

Key Gender & Migration Points Towards the Global Compact on Migration. Read the document prepared for events in Dhaka by the Women in Migration Network, concerning the UN's Global Compact on Migration. UN website for the Compacts:

International Organization on Migration (IOM) website section on the Global Compact on Migration:

UN High Level Summit on Refugees and Migrants Sept. 16, 2016 in New York