The UN Compact on Migration hasn’t raised the amount of discussion it warrants and this is a major concern as it contains some quite unacceptable requirements to which we must simply not agree. Admittedly, there it contains some good ideas, including sharing information between nations, although I believe all decent countries already do this.
A number of countries have already refused to sign, but they have been labelled as right-wing by the Compact's proponents, which is quite unfair in my opinion.
Why am I concerned that we must not sign it? Haven’t we have been assured by Mr Winston Peters that the previous National Government started the process (not true, they did not determine the content of the Compact as implied by Peters during Question Time in the House), and that there is nothing to see here, so move on and trust us.
Mr Peters says, it is not legally binding. Well it does say that at the beginning of the document then goes on immediately to make it quite plain that it is fully and obligatorily binding on all signatories. Juicy bits include the following:
(11) Manage borders in an integrated, secure and coordinated manner
(12) Strengthen certainty and predictability in migration procedures for appropriate screening, assessment and referral
(13) Use migration detention only as a measure of last resort …. (Does this include temporary processing centres?)
(15)…. We further commit to ensure that migrants shall not become liable to criminal prosecution (my emphasis) for the fact of having been the object of smuggling, notwithstanding potential prosecution for other violations of national law.
Establish comprehensive policies and develop partnerships that provide migrants in a situation of vulnerability, regardless of their migration status, with necessary support at all stages of migration (my emphasis), through identification and assistance, as well as protection of their human rights, in particular in cases related to women at risk, children, especially those unaccompanied or separated from their families, members of ethnic and religious minorities, victims of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, older persons, persons with disabilities, persons who are discriminated against on any basis, indigenous peoples, workers facing exploitation and abuse, domestic workers, victims of trafficking in persons, and migrants subject to exploitation and abuse in the context of smuggling of migrants
l) Develop national policies and programmes to improve national responses that address the needs of migrants in situations of vulnerability, including by taking into consideration relevant recommendations of the Global Migration Group Principles and Guidelines, Supported by Practical Guidance, on the Human Rights Protection of Migrants in Vulnerable Situations
a) Develop procedures and agreements on search and rescue of migrants, with the primary objective to protect migrants’ right to life that uphold the prohibition of collective expulsion, guarantee due process and individual assessments, enhance reception and assistance capacities, and ensure that the provision of assistance of an exclusively humanitarian nature for migrants is not considered unlawful (my emphasis. Australia won’t like this clause!)
Provide migrants that have become victims of trafficking in persons with protection and assistance, such as measures for physical, psychological and social recovery, as well as measures that permit them to remain in the country of destination, temporarily or permanently, in appropriate cases, facilitating victims’ access to justice, including redress and compensation, in accordance with international law. (My emphasis).
Promote migration policies that optimize the benefits of diasporas for countries of origin and destination and their communities, by facilitating flexible modalities to travel, work and invest with minimal administrative burdens, including by reviewing and revising visa, residency and citizenship regulations, as appropriate
Support other States as we collectively implement the Global Compact, including through the provision of financial and technical assistance, in line with national priorities, policies action plans and strategies, through a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach (The Compact is said to be not legally binding, yet countries are required to implement it!)
See also: For the effective implementation of the Global Compact, we require concerted efforts at global, regional, national and local levels, including a coherent United Nations system.
Isn’t the term “coherent United Nations system” an oxymoron; even worse, a binding, mandated oxymoron! As a youngster I grew up expecting the UN to lead us into a better world. It has failed even more spectacularly than the League of Nations that preceded it. At least the League stopped a number of wars developing during the 1920s, something the UN has failed to do at any stage since 1945.
The important question is not what we gain from this Compact, but what we will lose if we did sign it. I think we will run a real risk of losing our relatively free entry into Australia because we will be used as a backdoor route to the Lucky Country. We may even have stricter visa requirements for countries like the US. We may flooded by illegal economic migrants and be obligated to house them, forgive them, find them jobs, and support them with housing and social welfare benefits, and let in their families, too. We certainly will lose sovereignty and become further dominated by the majority of badly governed countries that make up that deeply flawed body, the United Nations.
Do we want these outcomes?
Dr Kelvin Duncan, a former lecturer at the University of Canterbury, now independent researcher, has strong concerns about the adverse consequences of poor public policy decision making.