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Endorsement of Global Compact Represents Major Step in International Cooperation on Migration, But Will Not Revolutionize Governance Overnight
Press Release
Thursday, February 28, 2019

Endorsement of Global Compact Represents Major Step in International Cooperation on Migration, But Will Not Revolutionize Governance Overnight

WASHINGTON — Global cooperation on international migration took a major step forward in 2018, with the vast majority of UN member states endorsing the first-ever agreement to cooperate on making migration work better, with less danger and greater rewards. But no one should expect the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will revolutionize the governance of migration overnight, a new Migration Policy Institute (MPI) policy brief makes clear.

The compact, by its nature, is non-binding, requiring the political will of governments in countries of migrant destination, transit and origin to implement its objectives.

“Implementation will require resources, policy changes, collaboration across borders, political commitment and a positive, realistic narrative,” writes author Kathleen Newland, the co-founder of MPI. “The compact’s only means of ‘enforcement’ are peer pressure and self-interest.”

And Newland cautions: “If national governments, bound together by migration, cannot agree on the rules of the game, the rules will be set by actors who operate outside the framework of public policy, and perhaps law, such as traffickers, criminal smugglers, deceptive recruiters and unscrupulous employers.”

The policy brief traces the compact’s unexpectedly bumpy path to endorsement in the UN General Assembly last December and examines the 23 objectives at the heart of the agreement.

It also chronicles how governance of migration could evolve not only as a result of the compact’s adoption, but also changes in the UN system designed to address the fragmentation that has long kept the United Nations a minor player in an increasingly significant policy arena. Among these reforms: Making the International Organization for Migration (IOM) a UN-related agency and creation of a UN Migration Network designed to give a more coherent voice on migration by drawing more fully on knowledge resident within the dozens of UN agencies and offices that touch various aspects of migration.

The brief is the eighth in a series, “Towards the Global Compact for Migration: A Development Perspective,” that results from a partnership between MPI and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The series was created to provide evidence and policy ideas to inform negotiation and implementation of the global compact.

Read the policy brief, Global Governance of International Migration 2.0: What Lies Ahead?, here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/governance-international-migration.

Catch up with the rest of the series here: www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/international-program/global-compact-migration.

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The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at local, national and international levels.