Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration


In response to the Syria refugee crisis and increasing movements of refugees and migrants, the UN General Assembly in 2016 adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. That declaration launched separate processes to create 2 non-binding international agreements: one for refugees (Global Compact on Refugees) and one for migrants (the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration).

The number of international migrants continues to grow and was estimated at 258 million worldwide in 2017, a 49% increase compared to 2000. International migrants represent 3.3% of the world’s total population. Most international migration is conducted through regular channels without incident.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) was crafted based on a year of thematic, regional and multi-stakeholder discussions covering all aspects of migration, followed by 6 rounds of intergovernmental negotiations in New York. The text addresses a wide range of issues, sectors, actors and means of cooperation at global, regional, national and sub-national levels. It seeks to reconcile tensions underlying international migration, including national security concerns, human security, dignity and rights.

Considered a historic achievement and the first globally negotiated cooperative framework to cover all aspects of migration, the GCM aims to improve cooperation on international migration in order to ‘make migration work for all’. It draws attention to the challenges that irregular migration poses, while also emphasizing the positive contributions of migrants, and the benefits of regular pathways and well-managed migration systems.

The Compact sets out 23 objectives, each focusing on one aspect of migration. Each of the objectives is supported by a list of best practices that states can draw from to achieve the GCM’s objectives. The text includes mechanisms for follow-up, review and implementation that will increase migration’s visibility in regional and UN forums. It also endorses the creation of a UN Network on Migration coordinated by the International Organization for Migration.

Canada played an active role in the process to develop the GCM and worked closely and constructively with traditional and non-traditional partners to reach agreement on these important and complex issues. The successful negotiation of the GCM in the current global climate related to migration and sovereignty underscores the value of multilateral dialogue on critical global issues and the role the UN can play in supporting a rules-based international system.

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