UN conference adopts migration compact, Estonia to issue approval next week

The UN conference in Marrakesh. 10 December 2018.
The UN conference in Marrakesh. 10 December 2018. Source: AP/Scanpix

Despite a string of withdrawals driven by anti-immigrant populism, a UN conference adopted the Global Compact on Migration before leaders and and representatives from some 150 countries in Marrakesh on Monday. Estonia has promised to issue its approval of the compact at a plenary sitting of the UN General Assembly to take place on 19 December.

The General Assembly session, the agenda of which includes the adoption of a resolution formally endorsing the UN migration compact, is to take place at UN Headquarters in New York next Wednesday, 19 December.

The UN adopted the migration pact before leaders and representatives from around 150 countries at a high-level conference in Marrakesh, Morocco on Monday.

As was the case in several other countries, the document caused internal political turmoil in Estonia, where junior coalition partner Pro Patria refused to support the agreement, after which President Kersti Kaljulaid abandoned her plans to travel to Marrakesh to represent Estonia at the high-level conference.

The coalition Centre and Social Democratic Parties (SDE) then decided to hand the issue off to the Riigikogu, which granted its support to the compact on 26 November.

Following the Riigikogu vote, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) said that Estonia would issue its support to the document during a vote to be held at the UN General Assembly. Estonia will be represented in New York by Estonian Ambassador to the UN Sven Jürgenson.

As the migration framework is not an agreement to be signed but rather a political declaration with which participating countries express their will to cooperate, participating states will issue their approval thereof by expressing verbal support either in Marrakesh or at the UN General Assembly in New York next week, according to an explanation issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Describing it as a "roadmap to prevent suffering and chaos," UN Secretary-General António Guterres sought to dispel what he called a number of myths around the pact, including claims that it would allow the UN to impose migration policies on member states, AFP reported.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration— finalised at the UN in July following 18 months of talks — was formally approved in Marrakesh at the start of a two-day conference on Monday.

Billed as the first international document on managing migration, the compact lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration and discourage illegal border crossings, as the number of people on the move globally has surged to more than 250 million, AFP said.

The pact "is not legally binding," Guterres was quoted by AFP as saying. "It is a framework for international cooperation... that specifically reaffirms the principle of state sovereignty."

"We must not succumb to fear and false narratives," he added, addressing an audience that included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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