The UN migration pact (GCM) caused a heated debate in Europe. As opposed to previous announcements, it will not be the jumping off point for solving the migration crisis. Many countries will not support it.
Opposition against the UN migration pact became an opportunity to manifest sovereignty of individual countries and an act of loyalty towards citizens. Below you will find an analysis of this agreement.
The unity fiasco
Part of German media spoke of a ‘historical chance’, that the so called global compact for migration was supposed to represent. The first country to reject the document were the United States, at the same time emphasizing that they will work on and implement internal solutions in terms of migration policy.
Among the countries with similar opinion were also Austria, Hungary, Australia, Czech Republic, Croatia and Poland. There is a chance that signatures of Denmark, Japan, Israel and Italy will be missing, too. Switzerland is hesitating, as even though the Federation Council found the treaty in accordance with their migration policy, some parties expect a debate and it may as well be that also this country will not sign the treaty in December.
There is a chance that signatures of Denmark, Japan, Israel and Italy will be missing on the UN migration pact, too. Switzerland is hesitating, as even though the Federation Council found the UN migration pact in accordance with their migration policy, some parties expect a debate and it may as well be that also this country will not sign the treaty in December.
What is „Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration” (GCM)?
The UN migration pact (GCM) that on 10-11 December is to be signed by most of UN member nations is an international agreement. Many people emphasize that, as per the content of the agreement itself it is legally non-biding. This may calm down all the supporters of sovereignty of countries in forming their own independent migration policies.
We need to remember however, that it is in fact an UN document and most of them are formally defined as non binding, because situations, where almost all countries of the world sign an absolutely binding international agreement are extremely rare.
Even so, this does not mean that legally non binding documents have no meaning whatsoever. They are used to create so-called ‘soft law’, which serves to ground and spread legal praxis. Many non binding documents become an international legal norm over time. In other words “Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration” (GCM) could become a document treated as obvious law, that all countries should abide by. Agreement on the document’s laws would become an instrument to apply pressure, not only in the hands of other international law subjects, but also other international and non-governmental organisations, which are already pro-migrational.
Matthias Herdegen, a German lawyer, specialised in the field of international law, who wants to replace Angela Merkel as leader of CDU warns, that these binding and at the same time non-binding agreements may awake expectations among migrants, by creating an illusion that all the countries will fully abide by the treaty. This, in turn, could lead to even bigger migration movement, and reaction of European countries to it, what all together could put the migrants in a dramatic position.
There is also another reason, for which the treaty is non-binding. If it was a legally binding agreement, in many countries, in order to be incorporated into internal law it would need to be ratified by the parliament.
Why would anybody want to avoid a public debate in such an important issue?
Sign may many, observe will few
Some also say that the UN migration pact will obligate to action only rich, democratic countries. Quite a few of the countries supposed to sign the treaty are in fact autocratic, with little respect for the law, so it’s hard to expect that they will abide by treaties that raise the bar of human rights so high. The highly developed countries however, to which the migrants are coming, will put additional restrictions upon themselves and will be held accountable to realization of those.
Origins of the UN migration pact
Works on UN global migration compact (GCM) began after approving the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants on 19th September 2016. It was then that world leaders discussed the project of such document. The debate about solutions had an atmosphere favoring the migration process.
The UN Secretary General said: ‘We have to stand by the millions of men, women and children, who every year are forced to leave their houses, we need to ensure that their rights and dignity are protected, wherever they go, we need to express solidarity and compassion, which are at the heart of our collective actions.’
An American diplomat Karen Abu Zayd, at the time the UN Special Adviser on the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants pointed out to the advantages of ‘mobility of people’ and ‘openness to refugees and migrants’. The tone of this discussion was consistent with the narration known from European politicians’ speeches from 2015. The focus was mainly the duty to protect rights of refugees and migrants.
The treaty often refers to Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals, other UN program, which treats migration as a mean to reduce the disparities between countries. The Objective No. 10 of this Agenda directly elaborates on making migration easier.
Uncontroversial side of the UN migration pact
The treaty also contains Objectives, which are hard not to agree with – such as creating welfare in the countries, being the source of migration, to minimize the necessity of it in the first place (Objective No 2).
One of the actions to help achieve that would be enabling help for these countries from their countries of origin (Objective 20) (below more about this Objective). Also ensuring legal, non- discriminating working conditions for the migrants (Objective 6) does not raise any doubts. This would, under proper execution, minimise the effect of replacing native workers by cheaper migrant work force. Issues such as saving lives (8), human smuggling and trafficking prevention (Objectives 9 and 10) are also generally agreed upon and are not under discussion.
Ideological premises of the UN migration pact
The idea of universal human rights has been chosen as the basis for discussion on global migration compact GCM. On the official website of UN Information Centre we can read about ‘obligations’, that the signing parties are to take on. Among them are:
- protection of human rights of all migrants and refugees
- firm condemnation of xenophobia towards migrants and refugees and support for global campaign against xenophobia
- emphasis of positive influence of migrants on economic and social development of the country of destination.
From analysis of the document itself stems, that these premises have been upheld. Even though the UN migration compact GCM was meant to accommodate interests of all parties involved in an immigration process i.e. migrants, countries and societies – already at the very beginning we can see that it is migrants, who are in fact the central point of interest and subject of rights. UN migration pact creators don’t hide that it is people-centered. In some cases it could mean that rights of a certain individual immigrant would be put above rights of a less specified community.
On the other hand emphasis lies on ‘the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law.’ (Objective 15). This sovereignty however could be limited by involvement in migration pact GCM of various actors, working in migration politics- through local communities, NGO, scientific societies, trade unions and national human rights organisations and media.
The most alarming is realisation of Objectives 15 and 16, which represent the multiculturalism ideology. Objective 15 speaks about abiding by laws of the country of destination and general respect for its customs, but the emphasis lies mostly on acceptance of differences, help in bringing in whole families, ensuring work, for which the migrant is most qualified for, promotion of multicultural dialogue, creating migrant organisations and general support for multicultural activities. The policy of societal unity gives way to multicultural ideology.
The pedagogical role of media
In the next Objective media join this whole process, being given the task of ensuring a ‘realistic, humanistic and constructive perception’ of migration. A lot is being said about support for migrants in reporting ‘hate crimes’ against them, but there are no pointers as to what the native communities are supposed to do in similar cases.
Similarly, media are supposed to fight against intolerance directed at migrants, but there are no remarks on how to deal with intolerance and discrimination against local communities. Fight against racial, ethnical or religious profiling of migrants by the government is also announced.
It should be pointed out that such doctrinaire attitude and fear of profiling accusations lead to i.a. prolonged investigations into Pakistani prostitution rings in the UK.
Exorbitant deportation requirements
Another Objective, saying that detention of illegal immigrants is a mean of last resort (No 13) keeps the hands of border guards tied. This, combined with exorbitant requirements that need to be complied with in order to make deportation possible (Objective 21), could turn out to be an obstacle for the planned by the EU centres for people awaiting asylum decision or deportation. Such centres were planned to be created outside the EU.
In another Objective (7) it is mentioned that EU countries should push in the direction of changing a status of an immigrant from ‘irregular’ to ‘regular’ if only there is a possibility of finding work for them.
Another aim is also to recognize professional abilities, even those acquired in a non-formal way (Objective 18). This however leads to discrimination against those employees, who put their effort and time into formal and legitimate education and acquiring professional skills.
Economic exploitation of countries of destination
The above mentioned ‘non-controversial’ Objective 20 speaks of facilitating easier ways of financial help from countries of origin. On one hand we have here the freedom of disposing over money and support from developing countries, on the other the inclusive amount of remittance money comes up to 450 billion US dollars per year and exceeds the amount of international help.
In other words, we agree here to boost the supplementary payments and help, without any control over it. This negative effect should be treated as import of services, where the means from them go to ‘foreign’ suppliers. This means that if the money is not spend on site, then in effect our internal demand decreases, and we should not forget that it is one of the enhancers of our (European) economies.
When we combine this with mentioned in Objectives 15 and 22 inclusion of migrants into the system of social care, it would mean outflow of means from our social systems, where migration will burden the system and economy of the country of destination, in contrary to, as the documents states, being beneficial for both parties.
False vision of migration
UN global compact for migration GCM tries to see all countries equal in being “countries of origin, transit and destination” (point 10). It is true, that today there are migrants from all over the world, coming to rich Germany and that they sometimes try to get this way to Denmark. It is also true that Germans themselves go and live abroad.
It’s hard to see a balanced, objective view in this document – instead it presents a more dogmatic premise that migration is an entirely positive phenomenon.
However, if we take into the account all cultural and educational factors, a situation when Germany is a country of origin of migrants is not the same as when they are a country of destination for, for example residents of Africa. Firstly, migration of educated people from Germany does not lead to decrease in educated population in the country of origin, whereas it can happen in the second case described, and also the possibility of a migrating German being potentially more advantageous and educated employee in the modern economy, then a migrating Nigerian, is higher. Point 10 gives a false view of reality.
An attempt to impose opinion
It can be safely stated that the ideological base of the UN migration compact is that migration is ‘a source of prosperity, innovation and sustainable development in our globalized world’ (Point 8). It can be treated as a part of patos, typical for such documents. But we could also wonder, if treating migration a priori as a positive phenomenon, in the chapter ‘vision and guiding principles’ and negating a situation, when migration is not a source for welfare, but instead of conflicts, does not give a sense of only one direction being right in all the actions resulting from the document.
And in fact, two points later we have a call for access to objective, evidence-based, clear information about the benefits and challenges of migration, the point of which is to ‘dispel misleading narratives that generate negative perceptions of migrants.’ (Point 10). It goes without saying that it’s hard to see a balanced, objective view in this document – instead it presents a more dogmatic premise that migration is an entirely positive phenomenon.
Such agreement should treat equally all ‘misleading narratives’, no matter what view they create. Treating all migrants as terrorists is as dangerous as a narration claiming that towards Europe are headed only engineers and doctors or other employees, that will be quickly absorbed by the market. The proposed laws, if directly enforced, would mean an auto-legalisation of economic migration, and rejection of any, even justified, criticism of migration processes. When we a priori assume, that all mass migration is good and beneficial, then any factual debate becomes impossible.
A controversial, and also, as we have showed, false statement is here presented as an absolute truth. Such formulated debate resembles visions from XX- century anti-utopias, exposing extreme ideologisation of public life. This way of thinking can be expressed using the language of Heller’s ‘Catch 22’. What emerges is a new ‘catch 22”:
1. Mass migration is a positive phenomenon. 2. When mass migration is not a positive phenomenon, see Point 1.
To shape, not to convince
There is also a dissonance between declarations of the treaty creators, claiming that the document will help in solving the migration crisis, and other statements, qualifying the document as ‘legally non-binding’ and therefore without much significance. Choice of this category means that parliaments don’t need to ratify the document, what helps avoiding a heated debate over this sensitive issue of migration.
The document itself, without doubts, points the whole international policy into a certain direction and allows for reconstruction of its main principles. Their acceptance and enforcement builds a world, in which everybody can choose their residence, and a country of destination should treat such right to settlement in a chosen place as a ‘human right’, meaning a right superior and non-negotiable.
The basis of UN migration pact is a conviction, that mass migration is not only unavoidable, but also positive. Its creators probably know, that the public opinion of many countries differs from such diagnosis and judgement, that’s why they introduced a requirement for countries to carry out propaganda activities – promoting migration and fighting against ‘xenophobia’. The solutions, prepared by clerks are not a result of a detailed analysis of the problem, but a consequence of ideological premises, which are being subtly forced upon communities.
Such course of action is a sign of a deep crisis in world leadership, of separation of elites from communities, which interests they are supposed to represent, and also of a new model for politics.
Crisis of the democratic decision making model
It could be called ‘clerk aristocracy’, in which society is not treated as an overlord, being able to constitute laws themselves, but as a mass, which can be shaped in such a way, as not to resist solutions created by the cast of clerks. Clerks, who neither have a democratic mandate, nor can be verified in democratic procedures.
Europeans themselves experienced this in September 2015, when the chancellor of Germany decided on opening the borders, without consulting it with her own parliament or any other UE bodies, having a democratic mandate. One could say that Angela Merkel herself had a mandate to govern, but making such an important and consequences bearing decision singlehandedly, without any debate, is a sign of a democratic crisis in Europe.
There’s a fight between to paradigms of holding power on the Old Continent. In the ‘democratic model’ the process of making decision is a result of free and unrestrained debate, which takes into account the will of citizens, whereas in the ‘clerk aristocracy’ a decision is made first, and afterwards the public opinion is shaped in a way for the society to accept said decision.
Two visions of society emerge – in the first one the ‘demos’ is a conscious of its needs and interests overlord, able to make rational decisions; in the second one it’s a mass, which should undergo pedagogical brainwashing in order to accept decisions made not only by politicians, but also anonymous clerks. The difference between those two can be grasped when analyzing the language of public debate. In the first one dominates information, in the second one- propaganda.
Power – who should hold it?
The UN document proceeding process, its origins and laws promoting migration and condemning ‘xenophobia’ show, that the politicians, when proposing such solutions, do not mean to argue in their favour, but instead intend to shape the society according to the new ideological model.
It is exactly because of resistance against globalisation of power, imposition of controversial solutions and pretented public debate that conservative parties came to power in Hungary, Austria and Czech Republic. No wonder, that in all statements of leaders of the above mentioned countries the issue of right to make sovereign decisions in migration issues comes up regularly.
Resistance against the treaty became an opportunity for the politicians to manifest their loyalty towards citizens (most residents of Central Europe- contrary to the authors of the document- evaluates mass migration negatively), and also showed the reluctance to weaken the identity of decision making centres and to blur government competences.
UN immigration pact – summary
The UN immigration compact looks like a compromise between countries, that are trying to ensure protection against illegal (‘irregular’) immigration and international organisations, which seek to spread and support migration. Any attempt at foreseeing the consequences of this treaty has to take into account the origins of the document, as the laws compliant with intentions of its authors will be promoted in creating international customs, the basis of which is an ideology that migration is an absolutely positive phenomenon, and any resistance to it is caused by xenophobia.
- Part of the UN migration pact is ideological- fight against ‘negative narrations about immigration’, promotion of pro migrational attitude in the media;
- The UN migration pact promotes multicultural ideology, creating a vision of a world with fluid borders between countries;
- The UN migration pact falsifies social reality, stating that all countries are equally a place of ‘origin, transit and destination’;
- The UN migration pact, despite declarations, can be used to limit sovereignty of countries in respect of migration policy;
- The burden of enforcement the laws contained within the UN migration pact will lie on democratic Western societies, not on authoritarian countries;
- We should support the actions in favor of minimizing the necessity for migration, act against discrimination of migrants on the work market, fight human trafficking and smuggling. These aims however can be realized using already existing norms of international and national law.
Jan Wójcik, Piotr Ślusarczyk
The Polish original: Pakt Migracyjny ONZ – Mity Zamiast Faktów