Australia refuses to sign UN migration pact
The Australian Government has announced that it would not sign the UN Global Compact for Migration saying that the agreement would undermine its existing immigration policies. According to the Australian government, the nation’s immigration policy already promotes safe, orderly and regular migration.
The Australian Government announced on November 21, 2018 that it would not sign the UN Global Compact for Migration saying that the agreement would undermine its existing immigration policies.
Speaking on the decision, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the government believes that the Compact is inconsistent with its well-established policies and not in Australia's interest.
• According to the Australian government, the nation’s immigration policy already promotes safe, orderly and regular migration.
• Hence, the government feels that adopting the pact would risk encouraging illegal entry to Australia and reverse the hard-won successes in combating the people-smuggling trade.
• Australia's harsh immigration policy detains asylum-seekers who try to reach the country by boat on remote Pacific islands.
• While the policy has led to a decline in people-smuggling, hundreds of people are now being held in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Some have been there for years.
• The United Nations and human rights groups at home and abroad have criticised the nation’s approach and the government has been under pressure over the deteriorating health of the people, many of them children, imprisoned on the islands.
• Australia has been under pressure to release detained child refugees
The UN pact on migration was agreed upon in July 2018 following almost a year of negotiations and it is expected to help open up legal migration and better management of the movement of people around the world. The agreement is due to be adopted in December.
The US has already rejected the UN Compact and a number of populist governments in Europe, including Poland and Hungary, have also said they will not sign it.
Morrison's government is focussing on immigration ahead of elections due to take place in May next year. Earlier this week, the Prime Minister announced he would also seek to slash legal migration into Australia, from the current official cap of 190,000 people per year to about 160,000. He said the cut was needed to counter worsening congestion in the nation's main cities.
The global compact for migration will be the first, inter-governmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner.
In the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, adopted in September 2016, the UN General Assembly decided to develop a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.
The process to develop this global compact for migration started in April 2017. The General Assembly then held an intergovernmental conference on international migration in 2018 with a view to adopting the global compact.
The global compact is a significant opportunity to improve the governance on migration, to address the challenges associated with migration and to strengthen the contribution of migrants and migration to sustainable development.