The Strategist

The UN migration pact and global disagreement

11/30/2018 - 11:29

In July, the UN almost unanimously adopted the international migration pact and called it an historic event. However, many are disappointed now. The project is designed exclusively for migrants, and the rights of residents of host countries are completely ignored. Western democracies have long been debating on this topic, and many countries have rejected UN proposals.

Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed
Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed
The pact has already caused a negative reaction in Germany, just like in other countries. The idea of this agreement arose after the 2015 crisis, which shed light on the insufficient cooperation of countries. After the first announcement of the plans in September 2016 and the consultations that followed, the negotiations began in January 2018. The final version sets 23 tasks and gives a number of recommendations. It applies to all forms of migration on all continents: in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. UNHCR is also preparing a second pact that deals with the granting of asylum. Angela Merkel is going to personally go to Marrakesh to underline her support for this treaty, which is in the “interests of Germany”. However, her position is unsustainable. Under pressure from the populists, her CDU party decided to vote on this issue in early December.

No passion raged in France, and the head of state, Emmanuel Macron, supports the document. France became the only European country where there was no controversy. In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte yielded under pressure from ultra-right minister Matteo Salvini and said that his country would not participate in the conference in Marrakesh, because it needed “time for discussion”. There is no unity in the Belgian government of Charles Michel either. A crisis is brewing in Slovakia: Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini announced the country's withdrawal from the agreement. At the same time, his Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak said earlier that he would then resign, as he was one of the participants in the pact negotiations. In addition, in recent weeks, the Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia and Bulgaria have distanced themselves from the project, as well as Israel and Australia, known for their tight migration policies. This list also includes the USA, which did not take part in preparation of the document at all. In December 2017, the Trump administration withdrew from the negotiations on the pretext that "only Americans should determine migration policy."
The UN, which almost unanimously adopted the pact in July, now fells disappointed. “This pact does not affect sovereignty of states in the field of migration policy and does not call migration good or bad, but offers a framework for action to better organize it,” the general secretariat said. In the first half of the year, Austria as the EU chairman conducted negotiations on behalf of the European Union. Be that as it may, under pressure from the allies of the ultra-right Austrian Freedom Party, Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz announced in September that he would not be able to support resolutions on the document for fear that "Austria will no longer be able to determine" its migration policy.

Thus, Vienna supported arguments of Budapest. In Hungary, where Viktor Orban lined up power on the categorical rejection of immigration, the pact was immediately rejected. The country refused to support the European position in the spring. “The government needed to put the issue of immigration in the forefront during the election campaign,” said Marshall Foundation expert Daniel Hegedüs. “The government opposed the pact and said that migrants could use it in court to get asylum, although this is not true.”

This and other arguments are now heard everywhere. Migration expert Gerald Knaus, who was the architect of the agreement between the EU and Turkey in 2016, casually brushes them off. “If the migration pact, which, by the way, only repeats the human rights convention, is rejected, what will be the next stage?” He protects the agreement. “It’s also a weak tool, like all UN documents.” He only gives hope for more effective cooperation. ” But for those who are fundamentally opposed to migration, this is too much.