Supposed to bring some humanity to the global migration challenge, a UN compact on migration is becoming a national political issue in many European countries.
The document must be ratified at a conference to be held at the beginning of the week in Marrakech.
A UN conference will be held early next week in Marrakech, Morocco. It had to unfold in a relative indifference, a concealed consensus. As usual. World leaders, like Emmanuel Macron or Angela Merkel, had announced their coming.
For more than a week, however, this migration-focused conference has been causing storms. It is denounced in France by politicians. It causes a parliamentary crisis in Belgium. It shatters a formerly common European position. "This instrumentalization of the migratory subject, in the name of inequality or the fight against poverty, is unworthy", Solène Bedaux, from Secours catholique-Caritas France, has risen from Marrakesh, referring in particular to attacks from yellow vests.
A "Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration"
Solène Bedaux has followed since its inception, the elaboration of the document to be signed Tuesday, December 11. It is a "Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration". " It was former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who launched this initiative just before his departure in 2016. The world was reacting to the photo of Alan Kurdi, this Syrian boy found dead on a Turkish beach ", she recalls.
Representatives of immigration and emigration countries have been working to find ways to avoid deaths. They wanted to make a commitment to treat migrants well, to avoid their exploitation by smugglers. "This Pact reaffirms the fundamental rights of migrants in health, education, for example"explains Solène Bedaux.
Pope calls for refugees
Summed up in one sentence, the ambition set by the pact is "To improve cooperation on international migration". This text is non-binding for signatory states. It does not therefore intend to call into question national migration policies, whatever they may be.
From February to July 2018, the Pact was negotiated in Geneva in relative indifference. In July, 191 countries validated it unreservedly in New York, with the notable exception of Donald Trump's United States, which had withdrawn a year ago from the drafting of the document.
The Pact identifies principles – such as the defense of human rights, children and the recognition of national sovereignty – and lists 23 proposals to help countries cope with migration, by facilitating information, integration migrants, exchange of expertise. It prohibits arbitrary detentions, allowing arrests only as a last resort. "As the negotiations progressed, the terms of the Covenant were very much reduced. The principle of non-refoulement of migrants by host countries has disappeared. It has also been erased the concept of hermetic partition (firewall) between the migration services and the information held by the social services that deal with migrants ", says Solène Bedaux.
"A red rag brandished by the nationalist parties in Europe"
And then, for two weeks, the Pact has become "A red rag brandished by the nationalist parties in Europe"says François Gemenne, migration specialist at the Université libre de Bruxelles. He says he is overwhelmed "By false information and lies" posted on social networks about the text.
In Belgium, Prime Minister Charles Michel was forced to ask his Parliament to support the pact. In Slovakia, Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak slammed the door of the government in the face of his country's decision to reject the text. Italy froze its signature, relying on a later vote in parliament. In France, Marine Le Pen has called on Emmanuel Macron not to sign the pact, a "Act of treason"…
Marine Le Pen does not want France to sign the Marrakech Pact on Migration
Multiple "posts" Facebook and Twitter, sometimes shared tens of thousands of times, claim that a "migration pact" will force France to abandon its migratory sovereignty at the United Nations. Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Australia, Israel, Italy and Switzerland have decided not to come to Marrakech.
Solène Bedaux tries to calm the spirits: "No, there is no invention of new rights for migrants in this text". She is not really sure that Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel will come to Marrakech.
Father Antoine Paumard sj
Director of JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) France
"A common answer to a global challenge"
"This Pact is the fruit of an encouraging approach. Having built a common declarative is already a sacred issue, something extraordinary! Countries that are different from migration have worked together for months to address the issue. Migration is a challenge of globalization that can not be solved by a lonely state, nor by building walls. This Pact gives more security in migratory routes. It also describes the prospect of a humanitarian visa issued in the country of departure to access a host country. "To welcome, protect, promote and integrate" is the goal set by Pope Francis. "