The Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration Questions and Answers

1. What is the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM)?

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration provides the first, intergovernmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner.
It is meant to provide a common framework, guiding principles and approaches to deal with international migration. It “sets out common understandings, shared responsibilities and unity of purpose regarding migration”.

2. How did the Global Compact come about?

It is the result of a comprehensive 2 year process of discussions, consultations and negotiations among 192 Member States of the United Nations that started with the New York Declaration in 2016, unanimously adopted at the UN General Assembly in 2016. In addition to Member States, the consultations involved a wide range of actors, including civil society, UN agencies, regional organisations, the private sector and donors, amongst others.

3. Why was the Global Compact developed?

The Global Compact was developed because States around the world recognised that no country can manage increasing flows of migrants alone and better governance and collaboration are necessary. In other words, it requires global solutions and global responsibility sharing, based on international cooperation. It is a response to what many people have asked governments for: an approach to migration that is well managed and well-coordinated and that can benefit all, States, migrants and communities in countries of origin, transit and destination, whilst protecting the most vulnerable.

4. What is the Global Compact aiming to achieve?

The Global Compact aims to foster international cooperation on migration by setting out guiding principles and providing a multilateral political framework.

It aims to:

1. Address the issues that cause people to leave their homes and their countries;

2. Reduce the risk that many migrants face and protect their human rights at each step of their journey, giving them support and assistance when they need it;

3. Help communities and migrants alike so that they can make the most of the opportunities created by migration; and

4. Find solutions to the challenges that come with migration.

Ten principles such as the universality of human rights and the centrality of child rights, gender responsiveness, rule of law, national sovereignty, international cooperation, sustainable development and a whole of society approach guide the application of the Global Compact.

It outlines 23 concrete objectives for safe, orderly and regular migration as points of reference for States when applying their national migration policies. It also outlines key actions that States can draw on in achieving the objectives set out in the Compact. It deals with issues such as saving lives and protecting migrants in vulnerable situations, smuggling and trafficking in human beings, pathways for regular migration, border management, reception and services, migrant documentation, safe and dignified return and readmission, skills development and integration.

5. Why does the Global Compact matter for children?

Globally, an estimated 50 million children travel across borders and many travel through safe and regular routes. However many migrants do not migrate by choice but out of necessity, taking dangerous routes, and become exposed to unimaginable risks of violence, abuse, exploitation, separation from their families and even death. In these situations, children often face the most immediate dangers and most profound consequences.
Many children travel with family members but an increasing number are exposed to such dangers while travelling alone, which can put them at greater risk of harm. The impact of these experiences can be devastating and long-lasting. Children have the most to gain and the most to lose when decisions are made about migration, their protection must be a central concern and they deserve a place in every discussion on these issues.

The protection of migrant children requires increased and strengthened cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination, to ensure that these children do not fall through the cracks. The Global Compact is the first document of its kind to provide a comprehensive framework for this , where responsibility is shared amongst countries of origin, transit and destination.

Some statistics: – Since 2014, more than 1,200 deaths of children in migration have been recorded but the real figure is likely to be much higher.

1.At least 300,000 unaccompanied and separated children who moved across borders were registered in 80 countries in 2015 and 2016. This is a near fivefold increase from 66,000 in 2010 and 2011.

2 Three in four children who crossed the Mediterranean in the second half of 2016 experienced abuse amounting to trafficking.

3 In 2014, 28 per cent of all detected trafficking victims were children (20 per cent girls and 8 per cent boys).

6. What does the Global Compact say about children?

With 15 out of 23 objectives and 38 paragraphs throughout the document referring to children, this historical document establishes a solid platform for collaboration in protecting the rights of migrant children. Adopting the GCM means that States are committing to work together more and more effectively in the best interests of children and to uphold children’s rights. It gives states a clear road map to ensure vulnerable children are protected, whether along their journey, or at their destination.

It also helps mitigate against the reasons that force children to leave their home countries in the first place, supports their proper identification, and ensures a proper referral system to ensure they have access to the services they need.

Regarding children, the Compact sets out practical measures for improved cooperation to:

– Mitigate adverse drivers of migration, which will benefit children in general Provide child sensitive legal information, guidance and referral along the route and upon arrival;

– Ensure that migrant children can access appropriate protection and care;

– Ensure that unaccompanied and separated children are identified and referred to services and for the appointment of guardians and sustainable solutions to be found that are in their best interests;

– Protect children from violence, abuse, exploitation, and trafficking;

– Ensure that families are kept together, and migrant children are reunited with their families when separated;

– Support women and girls;

– Strengthen cooperation on child protection across borders;

– Work to end child immigration detention and Improve cooperation to establish alternatives to child immigration detention, favouring care arrangement that guarantee access to education and healthcare;

– Strengthen education systems and facilitating non-discriminatory access to education;

– Ensure access to healthcare and other services when they need them;

– End child statelessness;

– Include in regular pathways access to education for children and scholarship for students, access to procedures for family reunification that promote the best interests of the child

– Ensure that return processes respect the rights of the child and are carried out only after a determination of the best interests of the child;

– Support integration and combat discrimination and xenophobia; Enacting the measures suggested by the compact will improve the access to protection, care and support for the many vulnerable children on the move. It will help ensure predictable and appropriate responses and allow national and local authorities and other actors responsible for protecting children to respond appropriately to the needs of these children and act in their best interests.

7. The Global Compact refers to facilitating access to procedures for family reunification for migrants at all skills levels. Will this lead to even more uncontrolled migration?

No. Allowing families to remain united does not lead to “uncontrolled migration”. On the contrary, it reduces the need for irregular migration. Indeed, the current lack of safe and regular migration pathways and particularly the lack of options for family migration force many children to risk their lives in order to reunite with their families. When children are separated from their families, they are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, trafficking, gender-based violence and recruitment into armed forces or groups. Research also suggests that protecting family unity is key to fostering social inclusion and successful integration to the benefits of migrants and communities in countries of destination. The right to family life is enshrined in international, EU, and national law of many Member States. Preventing family separation by expanding safe and regular options for families to move together and facilitating prompt family reunification protects children’s lives and wellbeing and is a key part of achieving the goal of safe, orderly and regular migration.

8. What does it mean to have a child sensitive Compact? And how can its implementation be truly responsive to children’s specific needs?

By mainstreaming children’s rights throughout the text, with 38 paragraphs dedicated to children, the Global Compact recognises that migration affects children in all its forms and tailored responses are needed.
Protecting children is everyone’s responsibility and all actors, including local and national governments, service providers, social workers, border officials, civil society organisations, have a responsibility in ensuring that children are protected, are referred to appropriate services, such as healthcare, psychosocial support, education and housing.
A child-responsive Compact recognizes the centrality of the best interest of the child at the core of migration decisions affecting children and their families.
Migrant children are entitled to the full protection of their human rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In practical terms, and as reflected in the GCM, this means that whenever children are concerned, their best interests should be a primary consideration in all decision affecting them. Child protection authorities should be involved and play a central role in the first line response and in determining their best interests.

9. How were the Initiative and its members involved in the process of development of the Compact?

The Initiative engaged in the discussions on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration from the very beginning of its development. It brought forward recommendations to ensure that the protection, support and care for children on the move would be a central part of the compact. The Initiative actively participated in the formal consultations and provided support and recommendations to members States throughout the negotiation phase.

10. What is the Initiative’s position on the Global Compact?

The Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts believes that the Global Compact is a crucial opportunity which we cannot afford to miss. It will help to improve the global response to international migration and, crucially, it will help to better protect the most vulnerable children. Implementing the measures suggested by the compact will improve access to protection, care and support for the many vulnerable children on the move. It will help set up predictable and suitable responses and allow national and local authorities and other actors with responsibility for protecting children to respond appropriately to the needs of these children and act in their best interests.
The Compact provides a crucial opportunity to change the status quo and catalyse real positive change for the most vulnerable children. We cannot miss this opportunity to protect and support them.

11. What is the reaction of the Initiative to some States’ decision not to adopt the Compact?

We applaud the vast majority of Member States that will adopt the Global Compact for Migration and regret the decision by some Member States not to adopt the Global Compact on Migration. The Global Compact does not create additional legal obligations on States and will help all meet the existing ones as well as support States in delivering on the SDGs.

It is in everyone interest to implement the compact: for Governments to have a more predictable, safer and regular migration system, for those communities in countries of destination who are under pressure including because of a lack of good migration governance and for the many migrant women, men and children whose lives are at stake. But States can join at any point the several initiatives for cross country collaboration that are starting to be defined as part of the implementation of the Compact and the Initiative encourages all States to do so.

12. Does the Global Compact on Migration create new legal obligations for States?

NO. The Global Compact on Migration is not legally binding. This is explicitly stated in the document. Therefore, no new legal obligations arise under domestic or international law for participating States. States remain bound by the obligations under international law to which they are already a party. This means it does not limit the freedom of any country to set their own laws, policies and rules on migration, subject to their existing international law obligations.

13. Will the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration have any implications on national sovereign rights?

No. The Global Compact is based on the guiding principle of full respect of national sovereignty. The Global Compact clearly states the prerogative of States to manage their borders in accordance with national sovereignty. It explicitly says: “The Global Compact reaffirms the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law.” Furthermore, objective 11 highlights that states ‘commit to manage our national borders in a coordinated manner, promoting bilateral and regional cooperation, ensuring security for states, communities and migrants, and facilitating safe and regular cross-border movements of people while
preventing irregular migration. We further commit to implement border management policies that respect national sovereignty, the rule of law, obligations under international law, human rights of all migrants …’ The Global Compact itself is an expression of national sovereignty to agree to establish a common platform for improved migration governance. The Global Compact, however, does not involve any transfer or restriction of national sovereign rights or competences.

14. Does the Global Compact prioritise the rights of migrants above the rights of the citizens of countries of transit and destination?

No. The Global Compact rests upon human rights as guiding principles which are applicable to all people irrespective of their nationality, citizenship or migration status. It fully respects the rights of citizens in a country’s territory, and addresses State obligations to treat all migrants in a manner consistent with their human rights. Migrants are not in competition with a country’s citizens. Like citizens, migrants have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, consistent with their human rights.

15. How does the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration define irregular or regular migration?

The Global Compact does not propose new definitions for regular or irregular migration. There are several working definitions, for example: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) defines a migrant in an irregular situation as “a person who, owing to unauthorized entry, breach of a condition of entry, or the expiry of his or her visa, lacks legal status in a transit or host country.” The European Commission defines irregular migration as “movement of persons to a new place of residence or transit that takes place outside the regulatory norms of the sending, transit and receiving countries.”  IOM defines regular migration as “Migration that occurs through recognized, authorized channels.”

It is important to note that a person’s migration status is often not fixed and it may change during the course of migration. Not all migrants in irregular situations enter or stay in a country without authorization or documentation. The status of a migrant may become irregular in several ways. During a single journey, a migrant may slip in and out of irregularity according to government policies and visa regulations. Many people fall into irregularity because their permit depends on a particular job or personal relationship which ends, at times due to abuse. People are sometimes unaware or their status, or that they have been provided with false documents, particularly if in a situation of dependency or trafficked. Children’s status is usually dependent on their parents’, so if 
their parent loses their status, so does their child. Some children are also born “undocumented migrants”, because their parents are undocumented migrants. The aim of the Global Compact is explicit in the title; it aims for migration to take place in a safe, orderly and regular manner. It includes concrete actions that will help States to enhance cooperation on addressing the drivers of migration, focus on pathways for regular migration and protect the human rights of migrants.

16. Will the Global Compact increase migration?

No. The Global Compact aims to improve cooperation on international migration. It neither encourages nor discourages migration. The Compact will not create any new legal categories. It stresses that migrants are entitled to the same universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, as any human being.

17. How will the Global Compact be adopted or signed?

The text of the Global Compact on Migration will be adopted at an Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, which will take place on 10 – 11 December 2018. There will be no signature: the adoption of the text will take place by way of consensus or a vote, with at least a two-thirds majority needed. As a next step, the UN General Assembly will be asked to formally endorse the Global Compact on Migration in the form of a Resolution.

18. Will the Global Compact involve financial obligations?

No. As the Compact is not legally binding character, it will not create any direct financial obligations. UN Member States can contribute to the United Nations and its agencies on a voluntary basis to the Capacity-Building Mechanism in the UN.
19. What will be the follow-up of the Global Compact? UN Member States will discuss and share progress through the International Migration Review Forum, which will take place every four years beginning in 2022. At the International Migration Review Forum States and other stakeholders will discuss and share progress on GCM implementation, identify options and opportunities for cooperation and will agree a progress Declaration. Additionally, every four years starting from 2020, there will be a review of how the GCM is being acted upon regionally. This will take place within relevant regional processes, including the UN Regional Economic Commissions or Regional Consultative Processes.
The Compact also encourages states to develop national plans for its implementation and consult and involve relevant stakeholders in this process.

20. What stakeholders are to be involved in the implementation of the Global Compact?

The Global Compact promotes broad multi-stakeholder partnerships to address migration in all its dimensions by including migrants, diasporas, local communities, civil society, academia, the private sector, parliamentarians, trade unions, National Human Rights Institutions, the media and other relevant stakeholders in migration governance. The Initiative strongly encourages the full participation of civil society and children and youth themselves in these mechanisms.

For more information contact: Daniela Reale – Lead on Child Protection and Children on the Move and Co-chair of the Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts. Caroline Horne – Head of Campaigns – Destination Unknown, Terre des Hommes and Co-chair of the Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts.