by Jasmine Khin (Researcher, EU Centre)
The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the EU Centre in Singapore.
A printable version of the commentary is available HERE.
In September 2016, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants was agreed upon by all member states at the UN General Assembly to address global movement of refugees and migrants. This formed the blueprint for the two legally non-binding documents which aim to save lives and ensure the protection of rights of refugees and migrants. The Global Compacts on Refugees (GCR) and The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) are an effort by the UN to reinforce the message that dialogue and multilateralism are the key to addressing global challenges, and more international cooperation is needed to tackle migration flows and refugee crisis in the future. It is the latter, also known as the migration compact, which has caused controversy and was rejected by several EU countries citing concerns over sovereignty.
As a reflection of the rising intolerance and divisions over migration and refugees in the West, the US announced in December 2017 that it was pulling out from negotiations for the GCM—becoming the first in a series of rejections to follow. Anti-immigration hardliner, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán quickly followed suit, pulling Hungary out during the negotiations stage of the GCM as well. By the end of 2018, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, and Bulgaria have announced they will not be signing or attending the conference to approve the migration pact, inciting debates in countries like Germany and France and a resignation from Slovak foreign minister, Miroslav Lajčák, who opposed his Parliament’s decision to withdraw from the GCM. Lajčák had helped to create the document as President of the UN General Assembly in 2017. Belgium’s ruling coalition was also put at risk as Prime Minister Charles Michel signed the migration pact despite opposition from Flemish right-wing party, N-VA.