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

First round of the intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration: Preamble, Vision and Guiding Principles
New York, 20 February 2018

Mr. Co- facilitator,

The Holy See wishes to reiterate its deep gratitude and appreciation for all the efforts you and your team have put into the preparation of the zero draft.

My Delegation finds the draft to be a good basis for negotiations. It contains key elements that, if adopted and implemented, can make migration safer, more orderly, more regular and, ultimately, voluntary. The most difficult conversation moving forward will be to retain and better formulate these principles, objectives, commitments and actions.

My Delegation is pleased to see the “action-driven” approach taken in the draft, particularly in the objectives section of the cooperative framework. We must remain intent that States do not simply pick and choose among these objectives and actions, especially when under budgetary and financial pressures, whether at the level of States or of the UN system.

My Delegation looks forward to knowing how the existing overlap between the Global Compact on Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees will be addressed. While legal distinctions should be maintained between migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, the question of forced displacement and how to protect those who are not recognized as refugees either by definition or due to some inattention, yet find themselves in situations of great distress, must also be addressed adequately. Moreover, issues like trafficking in persons and human smuggling, facilitated under the cover of mass movements of peoples, as well as access to health-care, education and other basic services, must be addressed consistently in both Compacts. A stronger interaction beyond the proposed briefings between the processes seems to be needed to assure that issues of common interest to both Global Compacts are addressed consistently and treated uniformly.

While my Delegation plans to deliver statements with more specific comments, suggestions and proposed edits during the various rounds of negotiations, we would like to highlight the following reactions to the Preamble and to the Vision and Guiding Principles.

Regarding the Preamble, we suggest separating the UN Charter and the core human rights treaties and protocols from the ILO conventions and various Agendas or Action Plans, because they do not share the same legal standing or level of acceptance and commitment on the part of Member States.Moreover, my Delegation wishes to suggest that the principles of the UN Charter and core human rights documents be referred to as “foundational” to the Compact and not simply that the Compact “rests” on them. We would also ask for stronger language in terms of the relationship of the Compact with the New York Declaration, in order to highlight that we are truly moving forward.

Regarding the Common Vision and Guiding Principles:

    • In the section on “common understanding,” we welcome the mention of both rights and duties, in order to acknowledge that migration is a two-way process of mutual respect, obligation and solidarity.
    • In the section on “shared responsibilities,” we would like to see a stronger mention of the need to promote poverty eradication and sustainable development through sustained investment and financial commitment.
    • In the section on “unity of purpose,” we welcome the commitment to make it “possible for people to remain in their own countries in safety and dignity” and would add that this commitment also helps to ensure that migration is voluntary.
    • Regarding the guiding principle of a “whole-of-society approach,” my Delegation wishes to request the addition of “faith-based organizations” within the listing, considering the very strong role and capillary presence on the ground of religious networks protecting migrants and promoting their integral human development.
    • Regarding the guiding principle of “national sovereignty,” my Delegation believes that the language could be strengthened, in the sense that the “right of States to exert sovereign jurisdiction with regard to national migration policy” should not be decoupled from the responsibility of States to safeguard human rights, provide due process, and honor their international commitments.
  • Lastly, regarding the guiding principle of making the Compact “gender-responsive,” my Delegation believes it is sufficient to speak of the need to focus on empowerment of female migrants generally, since responding to “gender concerns” is about much more than addressing “victimization.”

Finally, at this preliminary stage, my Delegation wishes to note the absence of any reference to the spiritual dimension of migrants and to their fundamental right to religious freedom.

Mr. Co-facilitator,

My Delegation will come back to these and other concerns of the Holy See at appropriate times in the course of the negotiations.

Thank you, Mr. Co-facilitator.