UN envoy 'very confident' on migration pact despite attacks
Marrakesh (Morocco) (AFP)
UN special representative for migration Louise Arbour says she is "very confident" on the future of an international pact on migration despite a string of countries opting out.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was finalised at the United Nations in July after 18 months of negotiations and is to be formally adopted on Monday at a conference in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh.
A number of countries, including Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Switzerland, and the United States, are refusing to support it.
Here are Arbour's comments from an interview with AFP:
Future of this accord?
"I am very confident: a large number of states continue to keep their word, they reached agreement on July 13 in New York after very serious and very intense negotiations.
"The countries dropping out of the process today had after all obtained concessions during the negotiations, and I must admit that I find it a little surprising."
What is at stake?
"There are many different issues at stake: economic, to maximise the positive effects of migration on economies of host countries, on countries of origin, on the migrants themselves, on communities which receive them.
"Humanitarian issues are at stake: to save lives, to better cooperate and better manage irregular migration, with people in transit countries in very vulnerable situations.
"So, there are security, political, economic, humanitarian aspects."
Why the negative reactions?
"Talk on migration, for a very long time, has always focused on negative aspects: in the media, in conversations, there is a lot of emphasis on irregular migration, talk of illegal migrants.
"The process at the United Nations, in fact, has contributed to restoring an equilibrium to stress in part the positive aspects.
"At the same time, we see a resurfacing of this language, which in some cases is xenophobic, but which in certain cases reflects perfectly legitimate concerns.
"What's important is that the conversation be based on reality, not on a type of mythology when it comes to migration and that governments put in place policies which reflect their interests and not erroneous perceptions of the 'migration' factor."
Origins of negative campaign?
"Many of the attacks we see on social media or in the media in general are or are based on a very bad understanding of the text -- it must be read after all, it's a very long and detailed text -- or based on ignorance or bad faith because when we hear constantly that this pact is damaging to the sovereignty of states, we must really ask ourselves what document have they been reading!
"The pact expresses in explicit form that the sovereignty of states is the cornerstone of migration policy. How can we imagine that almost 190 states gathered in New York inadvertently abandoned their sovereignty and their national interests?"
© 2018 AFP