The Global Compact on Migration

UN, New York, 22 & 23 May: Civil Society urges member states to achieve a rights-based agreement with measurable actions

The United Nations General Assembly agreed in September 2016 to develop a global compact for safely, orderly and regular migration by 2018. From April through November 2017 the co-facilitators for the global compact, the Ambassadors to the United Nations from Switzerland and Mexico, are conducting the Phase I of the proceedings for the global compact, which consists mostly of regional consultations and international thematic discussions with member states and multiple stakeholders.

International Day of Action on Climate Change

Following the First Thematic Session that took place in Geneva in early May, the Second Thematic Session happened in the UN Headquarters in New York between May 22-23, discussing the “drivers of migration, including adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters and human-made crisis, through protection and assistance, sustainable development, poverty eradication, conflict prevention and resolution”.

During these consultations, civil society and other stakeholders were invited to an informal dialogue with the co-facilitators of the process, as an opportunity to address their views to the global compact. The long list of speakers and attendees from civil society, including Dianova International, demonstrated the commitment of this constituency to the rights of migrants and to the international discussions that will shape key policies on migration and affect the lives of millions of people worldwide.

Civil Society continues to push for human rights-based commitments for migrants

Portrait of a Refugee

Ever since migration took over the international agenda civil society has pushed the United Nations and member states to acknowledge and implement the human rights standards to all migrants and refugees regardless of their status throughout their pathway of migration. These discussions continue to be relevant because the global compact has the potential to establish concrete action steps for multilateral cooperation and for national policies and programs to address migrants and migration flows within a sustainable and rights-based framework.


In this regard, for countries of destination, civil society defended that the global compact is clear about the creation of legal means to leverage the capacities of highly skilled migrants through the facilitation of visa and work permit, the recognition of foreign professional certificates, the availability of language courses, etc. At the same time, it must ensure and promote avenues for abundant legal low-skill jobs as a strategy to prevent that migrants are exposed to labor exploitation, fair pay violations, and human trafficking.

On the same topic, civil society urged member states to include an explicit mention to migrants’ right to decent work in the global compact. They also advised for the design of mechanisms that include the workers in national job creation processes in their countries of origin, as a way of preventing economic drivers of migration through the creation of jobs that meet the labor needs in all skill levels. Additionally, defining and implementing decent levels of social protection floors at the national levels in accordance with the International Labor Organization standards can help addressing economic drivers of migration.

Syrian refugees in front of Budapest railway station

On a conceptual level, the global compact should not be disconnected from existing agreements and mechanisms on human rights and development. For one, as mentioned by the Irish Ambassador to the UN and co-facilitator for the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants last year, the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals could not have a more entitled group then migrants and refugees in its efforts to leave no one behind. Thus, when addressing migration the 2030 Agenda can help states integrate approaches that are sensitive to different minority groups and that are consistent to a comprehensive set of efforts to achieve sustainable development for all.