Canada adopts historic agreement to address migration

News release

Migration Compact is the first, globally negotiated, cooperative framework to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration

December 10, 2018—Marrakech, Morocco – Canada believes that effective international cooperation is essential in order to address common challenges as well as harness the benefits of global migration.

Today, Canada announced it adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the first global framework on all aspects of international migration. The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, made the announcement at the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, Morocco.

The GCM acknowledges the serious challenges that irregular migration poses, while emphasizing the positive contributions of migrants, and the benefits of regular pathways and well-managed migration systems. Migrant and refugee flows are a growing phenomenon around the world. According to the United Nations, there are currently about 258 million people on the move. Of these, 68.5 million are forcibly displaced people - including refugees and asylum seekers - who are forced to flee their homes in search of new ones due to violence, discrimination and war.

The Compact sets out 23 objectives, each focusing on one aspect of migration. Participating states are not expected to implement each action, but to view them as examples of best practices on how to achieve the objectives. It emphasizes state sovereignty as a guiding principle and that it is a state’s sovereign right to control its own borders.

Canada has been actively engaged in the development of the GCM. This includes the majority of the almost 200 action items, which reflect Canadian practices and are aligned with the compact’s objectives and commitments. Following more than a year of negotiations, this is an important milestone and represents the first multilateral framework for the global response to migration.


“Comprehensive national migration systems can help drive innovation, economic growth, and social stability. Our government believes that this Global Compact is not only an effective way to address the challenges that migration can bring, but is also an opportunity for nations to harness the contributions of newcomers and to ensure their successful integration into new countries.”

– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“Canada is proud to adopt this Global Compact. The compact is an important international framework to better manage and address global migration challenges, as well as improve cooperation between countries. It contributes to a rules-based international system, and furthers a global approach to migration, which is based on facts, stands up for human rights and works to eliminate gender-based violence. Canada would especially like to thank Louise Arbour for her leadership and hard work to protect vulnerable populations and migrants all over the world.”

- The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Quick facts

  • In September 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. That Declaration launched separate processes to create 2 non-legally binding Global Compacts: the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees.

  • Canada’s engagement on the GCM has been co-led by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Global Affairs Canada.

  • The number of international migrants worldwide has continued to grow and was estimated at 258 million in 2017. This constitutes a 49 percent increase compared to 2000.

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Contacts for media only

Mathieu Genest
Minister’s Office
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Adam Austen
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Media Relations Office

Global Affairs Canada
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