New York, July 10, 2018 – Co-facilitators, we thank you for your leadership in getting the Compact to this point. We offer these comments in the spirit of making the final product even more effective in creating a sustainable framework for migration governance.
First, we encourage you to add “and family unity” to the “right to family life,” as this principle is part of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and, by definition, children are part of families.
Second, we believe you should restore the term “nonrefoulement” at some place in the text. We are concerned that if the word is not there, regardless of it is rephrased elsewhere in the text, some will point to its absence as a justification to return migrants in vulnerable situations without due process, thus eroding, over time, international human rights protection. If you are unable to re-insert this principle, then a savings clause should be added to the text which states nothing in the Compact should be interpreted as falling below international human rights law. The legacy of the Compact should be to strengthen international human rights protection, not to weaken it.
Third, we urge you to restore paragraph 25e in Objective 9. By approving of the criminalization of migrants who cross international borders, the Compact could defacto encourage the violation of human rights, such as family separation, the detention of children and families, and the weakening of due process for asylum-seekers, all things we are seeing now on the US-Mexico border.
Fourth, we ask that you maintain the word “expand” in the chapeau of Objective 5. Expanding legal avenues for migration represents the best practice for creating safe, orderly, and regular migration.
In the chapeau of Objective 11, we urge you to replace “preventing’ irregular migration with “reducing” irregular migration. The word “preventing” could be interpreted as sanctioning enforcement tactics, some of which undermine due process. The goal of the Compact should be to reduce irregular migration by offering legal means to migrate and to foster sustainable development in sending countries, not to externalize enforcement actions against large movements of migrants and refugees.
In Objective 15, chapeau, we urge you to restore the list of services as a baseline to which migrants, regardless of their legal status, have access. Without a floor, you risk a race to the bottom re the provision of basic, life-sustaining services, in violation of human rights.
Finally, Mr. Co-facilitator, we strongly support Paragraph 53 in the follow-up and review section. National responses to the Compact as crucial to ensuring that its principles are realized and that it becomes a living document which makes a difference on the ground. We, as a faith-based organization present on the ground in many countries, stand ready to work with Member States to realize this goal.
The Thai soccer team and their coach are safe due to international cooperation. This is a small sign of hope in a world often in disarray and at odds. We hope this spirit of cooperation lives as you finish the Compact in the days ahead and in its implementation in the years ahead.