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UN Global Compact on Migration Concluded

02 August 2018
Friday 13 July 2018 was a historic day in the United Nations. After one year of preparatory thematic and regional consultations and multi-stakeholder dialogues, and six months of intense inter-governmental negotiations, UN Member States have concluded and agreed on the text of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

The Global Compact embodies a consensus around a comprehensive migration policy agenda, organized into 23 Objectives, which include critical issues such as: enhancing pathways for regular migration, promoting ethical recruitment and decent work, safeguarding labour rights, providing access to services, social protection and justice to migrants, promoting skills recognition and partnerships, promoting portability of social security, addressing vulnerabilities in migration, including climate-induced displacements, trafficking, smuggling, forced labour, child labour, and gender-based violence.

"Given the importance for trade unions of a fair labour migration agenda at global, regional and national levels, we have been deeply engaged in this process from the outset," says Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI, and Chair of the Council of Global Unions Working Group on Migration (CGU-WGM). "We are pleased with a number of significant and positive outcomes for migrants, but we regret the counterproductive strategies of a number of Member States that have resulted in the weakening of language in the text on access to services, justice and labour rights for migrants in irregular status. These are fundamental flaws in the Compact that we must work to overcome,” says Yuson.

“PSI, together with the Council of Global Unions and in alliance with civil society, has been pushing for the human rights-based approach in the Global Compact, including access of migrants to public services, particularly for women and children who comprise a large proportion of migrants today. We are deeply disappointed at the weakening of language pertaining to access to services, the differential treatment between regular and irregular migrants and the continued insistence by States on national sovereignty over their obligation to international human rights law,” says Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International. “Nevertheless, we welcome the recognition of the role of trade unions in the implementation of the compact, which we will seriously take up, as we move the Compact forward and overcome its shortcomings,” stresses Pavanelli.

Decent Work Agenda

In the Council of Global Unions’ statement delivered at the closing plenary of the Intergovernmental negotiations, trade unions reminded Member States on the universality of human rights and the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work that are enshrined in the Decent Work Agenda.

Insistence on clear distinctions between regular and irregular migrants, and enumerating differential regimes for access to services, due process and coverage under human and labour rights provisions were unacceptable. This approach, contradicts protections in international human rights treaties and labour standards and a step backwards from well-established ILO doctrine and human rights principles.

The Compact's failure to recognize the importance of firewalls between labour law and immigration enforcement is also a major drawback in terms of protections for irregular migrant workers.

Trade unions are determined to stay engaged with all relevant UN agencies in the process of Implementation, Follow-up and Review while working as a social partner within the tripartite consultative framework of the ILO. The aim is to ensure that migration policies at national, regional and global levels remain firmly rooted in the principles of decent work and core labour standards for all migrants, regardless of status, which the Member States have an obligation to uphold.


UN Migration Network

As regards Implementation, Follow-up and Review of the Compact, a UN Migration Network has been established, led by the UN Secretary General. This mechanism replaces the Global Migration Group (GMG). The Network will hold a Framing Conference in Geneva from 15 to 16 October 2018, to determine its terms of reference, including roles and responsibilities of the ILO and other specialized UN Agencies with competencies in the field of migration. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), will be the coordinating Secretariat for the Network.

The UN Secretary General will convene a High Level Intergovernmental Conference to formally adopt the Global Compact on 10-11 December 2018 in Marrakesh, Morocco. PSI will be present in the conference.


Also see:

United Nations Finalizes First-Ever Global Compact for Migration,  UN Press Release,  13 July 2018.

Global Compact on Migration : Recognition of Labour Standards and Unions,  ITUC press release, 17 July 2018.

Also see