On Dec. 10, 2018, 164 countries approved the “UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly & Regular 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).

Compact Implementation

2021 Regional Reviews on implementation in Latin America and the Caribbean (April 26-28, 2021)

The U.N., International Organization on Migration (IOM | OIM in Spanish) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC | CEPAL in Spanish) held a series of meetings with stakeholders and member States to discuss the challenges, progress and needs in the implementation of the Global Compact in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. All Member States participated, as well as a wide range of stakeholders, including NNIRR and civil society partners, Latin American Bloc on Migration (Bloque Latinoamericano Sobre Migración), of which NNIRR is a member.

The meeting included five thematic roundtables addressing areas such as:

  • the promotion of fact-based and data-driven migration discourse, policy and planning;
  • the protection of migrants’ human rights, safety and well-being; irregular migration;
  • the facilitation of regular migration and decent work; and
  • the importance of the social inclusion and integration of migrants.

NNIRR’s Co-Director, Alma Maquitico provided closing remarks to the U.N. regional review dialogues with civil society on April 23rd on behalf of the Latin American Bloc:

From our perspective as members of the Civil Society, we believe that this Regional Review is the first step for the United Nations to assume a coordinated and regional mandate to work on migration, and to promote, defend, and monitor the fulfillment of the human rights of migrants, their families and communities.

We understand that as the first process convened by IOM and ECLAC as a regional platform for the implementation of the Pact in Latin America and the Caribbean, there have been many challenges and there are many possibilities for improvement. Given the transcendence that this new UN structure can have at the global, regional, and national levels on migration, it is essential to include the active participation of those directly impacted by migration and civil society organizations, to accurately measure the impact of these multilateral efforts.

—Alma Maquitico, on behalf of NNIRR & Bloque Latinoamericano Sobre Migración

For Alma Maquitico’s full speech to the UN Regional Review: Closing Remarks, Regional Consultation LAC Review GCM Apr 2021

NNIRR also presented a joint statement on behalf of the Bloque Latinoamericano on (April 27, 2021) reporting on a thematic panel 

Roundtable 3: Addressing irregular migration, including through border management and the fight against transnational crime | 

Mesa 3: Abordar la migración irregular, incluso mediante la gestión de las fronteras y la lucha contra la delincuencia transnacional

The remarks (in Spanish) can be viewed in this video from minute 41.29 — 47.32

Compact Development Process & Background

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,” 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).

  • The “Zero Draft” of the Compact was released on February 5, 2018 and monthly negotiations took place at the UN in New York, which resulted in the final version.

NNIRR 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.

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.

Key Documents & Resources