Arab Region Contributes to Global Compact on Migration at UN Consultations

Global Compact

Beirut – Yesterday (27/09), representatives of Arab governments and concerned organizations concluded a meeting in Beirut focusing on regional priorities for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. In the backdrop of an increasingly complex migration scenario, counties in the region are at once countries of destination, transit, origin and return. Today, the region hosts over 35 million international migrants, more than eight million refugees, in addition to 16 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

The Global Compact for Migration will create the first comprehensive global agreement on human mobility to guide States’ approaches through a set of common principles and understandings, concrete measures on all aspects of international migration, including the humanitarian, development and human rights-related dimensions.

Part of the regional consultations towards the Global Compact, the meeting was held from 26-27 September and attended by approximately 90 representatives of governments from the Arab region, international organizations, civil society, and academia. The consultation was organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA), in partnership with IOM, the UN Migration Agency and the League of Arab States (LAS), in collaboration with UN agency members of the Working Group on International Migration in the Arab Region.

 “We simply cannot and must not fail to bring this Global Compact for Migration to a successful fruition.  We can and must change the toxic narrative on migration and unlock its ability to fulfill human potential and the development potential of societies worldwide,” said William Lacy Swing, IOM Director General.

"Given the world crisis, there are gaps in existing frameworks that must be addressed to strengthen the management of international migration. The Global Compact for Migration is a unique opportunity to create a responsible system that is formulated in a country-sensitive manner," said Enas El Fergany, Director of Refugees Department, Emigrants and Migration Affairs, General Secretariat of the League of Arab States.

During the consultative meeting, representatives discussed the drivers, trends and specificities of migration in the region, highlighting the risks of irregular migration, while noting that safe, orderly and dignified migration reduces vulnerabilities and enhances the benefits of migration for migrants and societies. The discussions centered around six themes: 1) human rights; 2) drivers of migration, 3) international cooperation, 5) contributions of migrant to sustainable development, 6) smuggling and trafficking irregular migration and regular pathways.

Louise Arbour, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for International Migration, reaffirmed that “migration is not a trend, but a reality we must embrace.”

"It is high time for a change in the discourse on migration so that it truly translates the scale, scope and opportunities of international migration in the Arab region" emphasized Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Under Secretary-General, and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

“When well-managed, migration is an overwhelmingly positive story, with significant social, economic and cultural benefits for all involved,” Arbour said.

All regional consultations organized in the lead up to the Global Compact will contribute to a stocktaking phase in December 2017. The first draft of the Global Compact will be used as a basis negotiations commencing in February 2018.

More on the meeting proceedings: