UN compact non-binding, no government green light needed, says minister

Foreign Minister Sven Mikser (SDE).
Foreign Minister Sven Mikser (SDE). Source: ERR

Foreign minister Sven Mikser (SDE) claims, since the UN Global Migration Compact is non-binding, it requires no governmental endorsement.

Mr Mikser faced criticism from Riigikogu foreign affairs committee chair Marko Mihkelson (Reform) last week. Mr Mihkelson said was being kept in the dark on the compact, which Estonia is due to sign, with nothing provided since March, he says. Mr Mikser, as a minister, does not sit in the Riigikogu.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will of course give both the cabinet and parliament a run-down on the principles of the Global Compact on Migration once again," Mr Mikser stated at the weekend, according to ministry spokespersons.

Discussion open on or after Thursday

"I believe that way all government members can be assured that this declaration does not oblige us to change any law,'' he continued, saying that the government will be available to discuss the matter from Thursday at the earliest. The government holds a regular Thursday press conference.

"Let it be noted by way of principle that via the Global Compact, there is no international agreement either in the Estonian understanding or that of international law," Mr Mikser added.

"Thus this framework does not directly require approval by the government as is required by the Foreign Relations Act 2006 with regard to international agreements. Of course, there must be a common understanding in the government on such a sensitive political issue. This is a political declaration whose scope and mandate the government discussed already in March, setting out with its positions clear criteria for negotiations," he continued.

The compact, aimed at ameliorating the situation of the approximately 250 million people worldwide the UN says are migrants – over 3% of the global population – is due for signing in December, in Marrakesh, Morocco, but has been met with widespread dissent. Poland and Austria are two European countries which say they will not sign it; Donald Trump's US pulled out last year, so unsurprisingly Estonia's government is under pressure from some quarters not to sign either.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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