Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

Department for International Development written question – answered on 7th January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Vinson Lord Vinson Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 17 December (HL12096), whether the adoption of the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration would not make any criticism of immigration a criminal offence; and if so, what plans they have to mitigate any such impact on freedom of speech.

Photo of Lord Bates Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development

The UK Government is supportive of the United Nations’ Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, both as a step forward in international co-operation to tackle irregular migration and as a framework to help us deliver our commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals. The Secretary of State announced the UK’s support for the Migration Compact at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018, and Minister Burt attended the intergovernmental launch event in Marrakesh in December 2018.

Well-managed migration is in everyone’s interests. But uncontrolled migration erodes public confidence, damages economies, and places people on the move in situations of great vulnerability. The UK is taking significant steps to tackle uncontrolled migration both in our domestic policy work and in our ODA-funded programmes by:

  • Addressing factors that may force people to migrate irregularly, through our targeted assistance for livelihoods, healthcare, and education and driving economic development;
  • Tackling modern slavery and organised immigration crime;
  • Supporting enhanced border management;
  • Providing critical humanitarian support and protection for vulnerable migrants, as well as offering voluntary return and vital reintegration support to those wishing to return home; and
  • Supporting refugees to stay in a first safe country through our humanitarian and development work in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The Global Compact for Migration supports delivery of these efforts within the international system and enhances cooperation between states without affecting the sovereignty of all countries to control their own borders. The Compact will not in any way create legal obligations for States, nor does it seek to establish international customary law or further interpret existing treaties or national obligations. It does not establish a ‘human right to migrate’ or create any new legal categories of migrant. The GCM emphasises that migrants are entitled to the same universal human rights as any human being and does not create any new ‘rights’ for migrants.

The Compact commits to protecting freedom of expression for the press and public. The freedom of the media to debate all issues of importance to society, including the issue of migration in all its aspects, is fundamental to a liberal society and the UK Government attaches the highest importance to this. The UK reiterated the importance of this when the UN adopted the Global Compact in December 2018.

It also includes proposals which will help the UK make a strong contribution to the delivery of the global Sustainable Development Goals. This includes those relating to orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people; and those intended to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking, and child labour.

The final draft of the Compact is available online at:

https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/sites/default/files/180711_final_draft_0.pdf

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