July 9, 2018
Sixth round of the intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration


General Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See

Opening session of the sixth round of the intergovernmental negotiations on the
Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

New York, 9 July 2018



Distinguished co-facilitators,

My Delegation welcomes the most recent revision of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. We believe the draft as a whole reflects the different priorities and positions expressed throughout the process and a common understanding of how States must cooperate to address international migration in all its dimensions.

My Delegation would like to focus, however, on a number of specific requests that seem necessary to arrive at consensus and to ensure that States have the policy instruments they need to manage migration effectively and to provide migrants with the protections they deserve as a matter of human dignity and international obligation.

Distinguished co-facilitators,

My Delegation welcomes the concrete measures included to address slow and sudden-onset disasters, in particular, the inclusion of protection and adaptation measures, as well as the emphasis on joint analysis and the sharing of information. Common strategies and solutions that build resilience and provide those affected with regular pathways for migration are crucial. These actions begin to address one of the main protection gaps that exists internationally.

We also welcome the inclusion and added emphasis on the right to family unity and to family life, particularly in Objective 5. The family is the fundamental unit of society. It is at the heart of human development and social stability. For this reason, actions must be taken to promote and ensure the integrity of the family. Family separation is never in the best interest of the State nor of the child. Alternatives exist and many States have already eliminated this practice. The current formulation in the draft, while not ideal, reflects this common understanding and should be preserved.

Distinguished co-facilitators,

My Delegation will express a number of suggestions in the course of the negotiations, which we know are shared by other Delegations. We wish, however, to underline here three issues that we believe are necessary to reach consensus.

First, each objective, commitment, and action in Compact must be carefully negotiated and included only where  consensus is possible. For this reason, my Delegation reiterates its call for the deletion of broad references to the Global Migration Group Principles and Guidelines in paragraph 23(l), the OHCHR Principles and Guidelines in paragraph 27(g), and the WHO Framework of Priorities and Guiding Principles in paragraph 31(e). Including these guidelines and principles undermines the intergovernmental nature of this process and the transparency needed to reach consensus.

My Delegation wishes kindly to insist once more that these documents, which are not intergovernmentally negotiated and contain controversial language and issues, which do not share consensus, be removed. The outcome of the Global Compact on this specific point would significantly influence how and to what extent the Holy See and the Catholic institutions and organizations taking care of migrants throughout the world might support the Global Compact.

Second, all persons, regardless of their migration status, enjoy the same human rights and have the same fundamental freedoms. All States have the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of all, without discrimination. While we recognize the sovereign right of States to determine national migration policy and to distinguish between regular and irregular migration status, they must do so in accordance with international law. For this reason, my Delegation is deeply concerned by the deletion of services under Objective 15, specifically to “shelter, health, education and justice.” These services represent the minimum that all States must provide, as a matter of international obligation. While States may determine the level of additional service provided, they cannot deny any individual these specific services. By deleting this listing, we give States the option to undermine the human rights of migrants, who are first and foremost human beings.   

Lastly, throughout the revised draft, the phrase humanitarian “protection” has been removed, replaced, or heavily qualified. Similarly, the term “non-refoulement” has been deleted from the text even if an approximation of this principle remains. It is our firm position that the provision of humanitarian protection and respect for the principle of non-refoulement are obligations that all States have under international law and that, in specific circumstances, these principles can and do apply to all migrants, regardless of status. For this reason, they must be adequately reflected in the final draft.

Distinguished co-facilitators,

My Delegation would like to reiterate that all persons have the right to remain in peace, prosperity and security in their country of origin. This is a prior right that precedes the corollary right of every individual to emigrate, especially when the right to remain is not upheld or guaranteed. As the 2030 Agenda affirms, peace, prosperity and security cannot be achieved in isolation, but demand the international cooperation of all States. We believe that the Global Compacts build on this international commitment and shared responsibility.  

I thank you.