UN members back controversial migration pact
By PAUL DALLISON
More than 150 countries on Monday ratified an international migration pact that had triggered infighting in ruling parties and governments across Europe.
At a United Nations conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, leaders agreed on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, Reuters reported, citing Morocco’s foreign minister.
The non-binding agreement sets out a “cooperative framework” for dealing with international migration. Signatories agree, for example, to limit the pressure on countries with many migrants and to promote the self-reliance of newcomers. The document states that no country can address migration alone, while also upholding “the sovereignty of States and their obligations under international law.”
In July, all 193 U.N. members except the United States finalized the so-called pact.
However, since then many European countries changed their minds, and the pact brought the Belgian government to its knees. Over the weekend, Prime Minister Charles Michel reshuffled his government as his tenuous pact with Flemish nationalists finally reached a breaking point over the migration accord. King Philippe of Belgium allowed Michel to reorganize his government without the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), which strongly objected to the U.N. pact.
Hungary, whose Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has made anti-migrant policies his signature issue, pulled out while the pact was being negotiated. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz renounced the pact at the end of October and Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Slovakia and Switzerland followed Vienna’s lead. Australia, Chile and Dominican Republic also refused to sign.
The Dutch government came under pressure from far-right leaders, including Geert Wilders and Thierry Baudet, who refers to the agreement as the “U.N. Immigration Pact.” The Cabinet finally decided that it would support the pact, but would add an extra declaration, a so-called explanation of position, to prevent unintended legal consequences.
In Germany, the pact became an issue in the battle to succeed Angela Merkel as leader of the ruling Christian Democratic Union. The two losing candidates for the post, Jens Spahn and Friedrich Merz, both criticized the agreement and called for it to be amended.