Leaders from 164 countries have agreed to a global pact that sets in action a plan “to prevent suffering and chaos” for global migration despite opposition and several withdrawals, including from the United States.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) was agreed upon on Monday at an intergovernmental conference in Marrakech, Morocco Aljazeera reported.
A non-binding agreement, the GCM aims to better manage migration at local, national, regional and global levels, including reducing the risks and vulnerabilities the migrants or refugees face at different stages of their journey.
“Migration is a natural phenomenon,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “It happens all the time all over the world. If it happens legally, it’s a good thing.”
The pact had been approved in July by all 193 member nations except the US, which backed out last year.
In addition, Australia, Austria, Latvia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Chile, Dominican Republic, Poland, and Slovakia refused to attend the summit and sign the accord.
Meanwhile, Bulgaria, Estonia, Italy, Israel, Slovenia, and Switzerland are still undecided on whether to agree to the new pact.
“This moment is the inspiring product of dedicated and painstaking efforts,” said Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, at the opening of the conference on Monday.
“Migration has always been with us. But in a world where it is ever more inevitable and necessary, it should be well managed and safe, not irregular and dangerous.
“National policies are far more likely to succeed with international cooperation.”
There were 258 million international migrants in the world last year, increasing almost 50 percent since 2000, according to the UN.
The number of migrants, representing 3.4 percent of the world’s population, is increasing faster than the global population, driven by economic prosperity, inequality, violence, conflict and climate change.
Around 80 percent of the world’s migrants move between countries in a safe and orderly fashion. But more than 60,000 people have died on the move since the year 2000, according to the UN.
From the US to Europe and beyond, right-wing leaders have taken increasingly draconian measures to shut out-migrants in recent years.
US President Donald Trump has pledged to build a wall on the US-Mexico border and has focused his recent ire on a migrant caravan from Central America, while a populist coalition government in Italy has clamped down on boats rescuing migrants or refugees at sea.
“It is true that some states are not with us today,” said Guterres. “I can only hope that they will see the GMC’s value for their own societies and join us in this common venture.”
On Friday, the US took a fresh swipe at the pact, labelling it “an effort by the United Nations to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of states.”