Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM)

Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration Conference Site, Bab Ighli, Marrakech, Morocco © UN Photo/Mark Garten The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (A/RES/73/195), is the first intergovernmental agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. It was adopted at an intergovernmental conference on migration in Marrakesh, Morocco on 10 December 2018. OHCHR has welcomed the Global Compact as an important framework for improved migration governance that puts migrants and their human rights at the centre and that provides a significant opportunity to strengthen human rights protection for all migrants, regardless of status.

The Global Compact is grounded in international human rights law and reaffirms States’ commitment to respecting, protecting, and fulfilling all human rights for all migrants. The Global Compact rests on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and each of the nine core international human rights law instruments, and contains a Guiding Principle on human rights:

“The Global Compact is based on international human rights law and upholds the principles of non-regression and non-discrimination. By implementing the Global Compact, we ensure effective respect for and protection and fulfilment of the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their migration status, across all stages of the migration cycle. We also reaffirm the commitment to eliminate all forms of discrimination, including racism, xenophobia and intolerance, against migrants and their families;”

CGM Guiding Principles The Global Compact enumerates 23 objectives for State action, bolstered by specific commitments, that seek to address challenges related to today’s migration. The GCM commitments and actions can be seen as a guide for States to meet their human rights obligations when designing migration governance measures to reduce the risks and vulnerabilities migrants face at different stages of migration and to create conducive conditions that empower all migrants to become active members of society. Key commitments include:

  • Strengthening evidence-based and human rights-based policy-making and public discourse on migration;
  • Minimizing the adverse drivers of migration, including combatting poverty and discrimination and addressing climate and disaster-related displacement;
  • Ensuring migrants’ rights to information and to a legal identity;
  • Expanding and diversifying availability of pathways for safe, orderly and regular migration, taking into account the particular needs of migrants in situations of vulnerability;
  • Protecting the right to decent work and other labour rights for migrants;
  • Addressing and reducing vulnerabilities and human rights violations in the context of migration;
  • Protecting the right to life in the context of migration;
  • Combatting smuggling and trafficking while protecting the human rights of those who have been smuggled or trafficked;
  • Respecting human rights at borders and conducting human rights-based and individualized screening, assessment and referral of migrants;
  • Protecting the right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention, including by prioritizing alternatives to immigration detention;
  • Ensuring migrants’ rights to access basic services, including health, education, and social support, without discrimination;
  • Eliminating discrimination and combatting hate speech and xenophobia;
  • Upholding the prohibitions of collective expulsion and refoulement for all migrants, ensuring that returns are safe and dignified and reintegration is sustainable.

At the UN level, implementation of the Global Compact is supported by the United Nations Network on Migration. The Network was established by the UN Secretary-General to ensure coordinated UN system-wide support to States in implementing the GCM, while prioritizing the rights and well-being of migrants and their communities.  It is comprised of 38 entities of the UN system working collectively to support states in addressing their migration priorities, including as regards upholding the rights and wellbeing of migrants and their communities. The Network is led by an Executive Committee of 9 UN entities giving overall guidance and setting priorities for the Network. The Executive Committee is comprised of ILO, IOM, OHCHR, UNDESA, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNODC and WHO, with IOM as the Coordinator and secretariat to the Network.

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The United Nations began laying the groundwork for comprehensive international cooperation on issues related to migration in two High Level Dialogues on International Migration and Development, held in 2006 and 2013. The conversations started in these dialogues eventually culminated in the 2016 United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants.

At the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants, held on 19 September 2016, the General Assembly adopted the landmark New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (A/RES/71/1). In the New York Declaration, Member States committed to develop a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), to be adopted at an intergovernmental conference on migration to be held in Marrakesh, Morocco in 2018.

In April 2016, in advance of the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants, the Secretary General drafted a report, In Safety and Dignity: Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants (A/70/59), providing recommendations for the Global Compact process and how the UN system could best support. In August 2016, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants similarly provided a report on The global compact for safe, regular and orderly mobility (A/71/285), which provided his recommendations.

In March 2017, the UN Secretary-General appointed the former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour of Canada, as his Special Representative for International Migration to lead the follow-up to the migration-related aspects of the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants, including the development of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

The process to develop the GCM began in April 2017 and consisted of a series of informal thematic consultations followed by 6 rounds of intergovernmental negotiations. A comprehensive roadmap of the process is available here.

A modalities resolution (A/Res/71/280) adopted by the UN General Assembly mandated a consultation phase (April – November 2017) of informal thematic sessions, regional consultations and multi-stakeholder consultations; followed by a stocktaking phase (November – December 2017) to assess the inputs received as well as an inter-governmental preparatory meeting held in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico and a UN Secretary-General’s report presenting key recommendations for Member States; and finally a negotiation phase (January – July 2018).

On 13 July 2018, upon the completion of the 6th and final round of intergovernmental negotiations, 192 Member States agreed upon a Final Draft of the GCM text, which was hailed as an “historic moment” by the UN Secretary General, the President of the UN General Assembly, and the Co-Facilitators Mexico and Switzerland.