U.S. in­ten­si­fies its op­po­si­tion to mi­gra­tion pact

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - WEATHER DESK -

UNITED NA­TIONS — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on Fri­day in­ten­si­fied its op­po­si­tion to next week’s U.N. meet­ing to adopt a land­mark pact on mi­gra­tion, call­ing it a “pro-mi­gra­tion” doc­u­ment that un­der­mines sovereignty and warn­ing that sup­port­ers are try­ing to cre­ate new in­ter­na­tional law.

The U.S. Mis­sion to the

United Na­tions is­sued the blis­ter­ing three-page “na­tional state­ment” on the “Global Com­pact for Safe, Orderly, and Reg­u­lar Mi­gra­tion,” which is to be for­mally ap­proved at a high­level meet­ing in Mar­rakech, Morocco, on Mon­day and Tues­day.

The state­ment claims the com­pact is at­tempt­ing to “‘glob­al­ize’ mi­gra­tion gov­er­nance at the ex­pense of state sovereignty” and “its pro-mi­gra­tion stance fails to rec­og­nize that well-man­aged le­gal im­mi­gra­tion must start and end with ef­fec­tive na­tional con­trols over bor­ders.”

The draft­ing process for the global com­pact was launched after all 193 U.N. mem­ber states, in­clud­ing the U.S. un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, adopted a dec­la­ra­tion in 2016 say­ing no coun­try can man­age in­ter­na­tional mi­gra­tion on its own and agreed to work on a pact.

But the U.S., un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, pulled out a year ago, claim­ing that numer­ous pro­vi­sions in the com­pact were “in­con­sis­tent with U.S. im­mi­gra­tion and refugee poli­cies.”

In July, 192 coun­tries unan­i­mously agreed on the 34-page com­pact — the first global doc­u­ment to tackle mi­gra­tion — after lengthy ne­go­ti­a­tions on the of­ten heated is­sue, with only the U.S. boy­cotting. But in re­cent months, coun­tries in­clud­ing Hun­gary, Aus­tria, Is­rael, Poland, Switzer­land, Aus­tralia and Slo­vakia have dropped their sup­port and said they won’t at­tend the Mar­rakech meet­ing.

Slo­vakia’s for­eign min­is­ter, Miroslav La­j­cak, the for­mer Gen­eral Assem­bly pres­i­dent who presided over the July meet­ing, re­signed over his coun­try’s op­po­si­tion to the pact but said Fri­day that he changed his mind after sup­port from the pres­i­dent, prime min­is­ter and many oth­ers.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Du­jar­ric said Fri­day that 135 coun­tries have in­formed the U.N. they are at­tend­ing the Mar­rakech meet­ing, and “we also ex­pect more of them to regis­ter on the first day of the con­fer­ence.” He also an­nounced that U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res will at­tend.

Louise Ar­bour, the U.N. en­voy for in­ter­na­tional mi­gra­tion who will be chair­ing the Mar­rakech meet­ing, ex­pressed great dis­ap­point­ment last week that some coun­tries are reneg­ing on their sup­port for the com­pact, es­pe­cially be­cause it is not legally bind­ing and after its for­mal adop­tion “there is not a sin­gle coun­try that is ob­li­gated to do any­thing that it doesn’t want to.”

Du­jar­ric called it “re­gret­table” but stressed Fri­day that “this is not a closed door” and the U.N. hopes coun­tries “will come back and con­tinue to par­tic­i­pate in th­ese dis­cus­sions.”

“This is a non­bind­ing pact,” he said. “This is about help­ing coun­tries man­age mi­gra­tion. This is about reaf­firm­ing the rights of coun­tries to ob­vi­ously con­trol their own bor­ders. It seems to defy logic to see how you can man­age mi­gra­tion with­out hav­ing a global con­ver­sa­tion.”

But the U.S. state­ment ex­pressed con­cern “that com­pact sup­port­ers, rec­og­niz­ing the lack of wide­spread sup­port for a legally bind­ing in­ter­na­tional mi­gra­tion con­ven­tion, seek to use the com­pact and its out­comes and ob­jec­tives as a long-term means of build­ing cus­tom­ary in­ter­na­tional law or so-called ‘soft law’ in the area of mi­gra­tion.” It said the word “com­pact” has no agreed mean­ing in in­ter­na­tional law, “but it im­plies le­gal obli­ga­tion.”


The United Na­tions’ refugee agency, mean­while, said Fri­day that there were nearly 1,500 civil­ian ca­su­al­ties in Ye­men from Au­gust through Oc­to­ber, the lat­est grim tally to emerge from a four-year civil war as op­pos­ing par­ties hold talks in Swe­den.

The an­nounce­ment came as Ye­men’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment, sup­ported by a Saudi-led coali­tion, met for a sec­ond day for U.N.spon­sored talks aimed at halt­ing the blood­shed.

The U.N. High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees urged the sides to do more to pro­tect civil­ians, say­ing data from Ye­men show about 123 civil­ians killed and wounded every week dur­ing the three­month pe­riod, in a war that has killed at least 16,000 civil­ians.

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