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The UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

This holiday season, as you celebrate with family and friends, think about the refugee families across the world who are struggling with falling temperatures and worsening conditions.

According to the United Nations, 258 million people reside outside their country of birth. Migration is not only driven by the needs of individuals; it is often in the interests of states. Canada, for example, requires more people for economic growth.

That is why the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is a step in the right direction. Contrary to misguided opinions, the Global Compact is not legally binding. It is not a treaty, nor does it compromise Canada’s national sovereignty when it comes to immigration. In fact, it is a declaration of principles to help nations tackle challenges arising from human migration. Its aim is to safeguard human rights and help states manage borders effectively through international co-operation.The agreement, however, affirms, “the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law”.

Many migrants die or become injured trying to cross international borders. For example, some refugees who cross into Canada from the United States of America do so at unauthorized points of entry because of the Third Safe Country Agreement, which requires them to seek protection in the USA. During Canada’s winter months, many refugees risk their lives trekking through snow and blistering cold temperatures to seek protection in Canada. Endorsing the UN Global Compact will push Canada to reconsider border policies that force refugee claimants to take irregular and dangerous routes into the country.

In other words, the agreement provides a useful framework for the international community on migration issues. The document’s purpose is to optimize the “positive impacts” of migration, which it calls “a source of prosperity, innovation, and sustainable development in our globalized world”.

The objectives of the UN agreement includes, among others, the following:

  1. Provide accurate and timely information at all stages of migration.
  2. Ensure that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation.
  3. Address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration.
  4. Save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants.
  5. Manage borders in an integrated, secure and coordinated manner.
  6. Strengthen certainty and predictability in migration procedures for appropriate screening, assessment and referral.
  7. Use migration detention only as a measure of last resort and work towards alternatives.
  8. Provide access to basic services for migrants.
  9. Empower migrants and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion.
  10. Strengthen international co-operation and global partnerships for safe, orderly and regular migration.


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