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To adopt, or not to adopt? The Global Compact for Migration

The UN Intergovernmental Conference taking place in Marrakech just adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.  

The high number of countries disagreeing with the Compact or withdrawing from the intention to sign it is a peculiar "phenomenon". Nations such as the USA, Australia, Denmark or Slovakia amongst others, denied their support for the Compact. Either way, the migration Compact was a crucial topic for discussion within political parties and public debates for the candidates of the next CDU leadership in Germany.

I acknowledge the weaknesses of the Compact’s text, which are being pointed out by its critics; it seems that it is inclined only to one side – to the side of refugees and emigrants. As one of my Estonian friends at a conference in Tallinn said, the Compact increases migrants' rights but overlooks their duties.

The duties of those who are fleeing or leaving their homes, as well as the duties of the countries of origin or transit. Additionally, I believe the Compact avoids mentioning that the absorption capacity of the West to accept asylum seekers and those interested in living and working in the West is limited. One might say that the Compact contains the rights of the migrants, but not the ones of the citizens of the target countries.  Despite all this, I would adopt the Global Compact.

I would still adopt this agreement because we need to work together: the countries that "produce" the emigration, the countries that allow migrants to pass, as well as us, the countries to which migrants are heading. Interestingly, most countries that are withdrawing from, disagreeing with the Global Compact or who are still deciding on whether to agree with it or not, are predominantly the countries of the West.

This seems like a paradox to me. Why? Because countries of the West, in which the vast majority of the emigrants wants to live, need global cooperation and joint progress in the field of migration. They need more commitments from the countries of origin and transit.  

Migration is not only a large-scale problem, but it is also an intricate and complex one. Its integral part is readmission - returning asylum or residence permit seekers, who were denied their request, back to their home countries. However, this readmission is virtually not working, particularly due to the lack of proper readmission agreements.

Even if such agreements did exist, they would probably not be respected or they would be respected in a very limited way. This is the main reason why we are unable to repatriate people who came to the West but did not meet the conditions for granting asylum or did not obtain a residence permit. That is also why the appetite to flee to the West still persists.

Many countries of origin as well as transit countries have trouble not only with readmission, but also with migration as such. They either did not sign the basic documents governing migration at all - the Refugee Convention and other relevant conventions (hereinafter referred to as the Convention), have not adopted the Convention into national legislation or have not established the institutions that ensure the implementation of this legislation.

Therefore, many countries do not implement this Convention in general.  This is why people flee their countries without basic information. This is also why the transit of these people is greatly tolerated by many countries.

Hence, if it is necessary to build some kind of safety wall around the West, then it should be a legislative and institutional one. We need to ensure that as many countries as possible in our Western neighborhood apply and effectively enforce the legislation that is necessary for the efficient and equitable management of migration.

Protecting the human rights of refugees, while respecting the possibilities of the West. Building fences around our lands without the existence of such a "legislative fence" is not only foolish, but it will also be completely ineffective. Even if we build a 10 meters high concrete wall, there will always be a ladder which is a meter higher. And what do we do with the man who climbs up on that wall?

Populists, who speak about defending their nations and therefore argue that the UN Global Compact on Migration needs to be buried, are in reality acting against the actual interests of their citizens and harm them. Yes, the Global Compact will exert pressure, but on those countries that do not perceive it as a problem. It is exactly these countries that must be drawn into effective co-operation. As common sense suggests, we will attract many of them into such cooperation much faster and more efficiently if we proceed and act together, not individually.