Annual Parliamentary Hearing 

– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at Annual Parliamentary Hearing: Towards a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration: A parliamentary perspective



Thank you very much. Good morning, excellencies, distinguished parliamentarians, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to New York; welcome to the United Nations.

It is a pleasure to address the 2018 Annual Parliamentary Hearing.

I want to thank the President of the Interparliamentary Union, Gabriela Cuevas Barron, as well as Secretary-General Martin Chungong, for their work in bringing us all here.

The United Nations General Assembly and IPU have many things in common. They both work to promote peace, through dialogue and mediation. They both speak up for human rights. They both advocate for sustainable, inclusive development. And, they will both play a crucial role in forging the first global response to migration.

That is why I am delighted that we are dedicating this year’s hearing to the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

And I want to make three main points, to frame your discussions.

First, I want to stress that we need a Global Compact to come from this process.

I am sure that many of you agree. And, I am sure that there are some of you with reservations, or concerns.

But, either way, there is one thing we are can all agree on: which is that migration is a reality and it’s here to stay. It is not going anywhere. It is not a feature of this generation, or this era. Rather, it is a fact of life.

We do not have the choice to accept or reject migration. Because it is there.

The only choice we have is what to do about it – to deny this fact, or to take action, to plan ahead, to put a system in place and to respond to a global phenomenon with global action.

Because we have already tried to do it alone. Up until today, our response to migration has been limited to national, ad hoc approaches.

If this had been working, all UN Member States would not have gathered here, in September 2016, to call for another way. If this had been working, we would not be in a process of intergovernmental negotiations on a new, global framework. And if this had been working, we would be not discussing this topic, today.

But Member States did meet, in September 2016. They did call for another way. They did, this week, begin negotiations. And we are here, today, to talk about how parliamentarians can play a role in the process to adopt a Global Compact.

Which brings me to my second point, on the crucial role for parliamentarians

Because, they can bring the perspectives and views of the people they represent to our work in New York.

It is no secret that we need a stronger link between the United Nations and the people it is working for. This building cannot become a bubble. We cannot only discuss ideas, without considering realities. We cannot talk about the theories, and ignore the practices. We cannot lose touch with what matters to those who are not sitting in these halls.

And so, we need to keep a strong focus on people. We need to bring experiences, and perspectives, from around the world to our discussions, here. And we need to ensure that what we do, inside these walls, can have an impact outside them.

And this is particularly true for migration. I have said from the beginning: the process to adopt the Global Compact cannot be an academic exercise. It cannot turn into a talking shop. It cannot lead to a framework that works only on paper. Instead, we must strive for a Compact that is pragmatic. One that is effective. And one that can be realised, on the ground.

And that is why you – the parliamentarians – will play such an important role.

Because, you are on the ground, every day, talking to people. You are seeing the opportunities that migration has to offer, as well as the risks that come when it is poorly managed. You are observing the best practices and success stories. And you are hearing the ideas, and calls from those experiencing it first-hand. Maybe some of you even have first-hand experience yourselves.

At a time when multilateralism is under threat, our engagement, and partnership, is needed more than ever. This applies, in particular, to migration. […] Try to find even more ways in which IPU and the General Assembly can support each other as global champions of multilateralism.


President of the UN General Assembly

We need to ensure that these perspectives are heard in our conference rooms, here, in New York. They will enrich our discussions. And they will be crucial once the Compact has been agreed, and our attention turns to implementation.

But this works from the top down, too. And that is my third point today.  Because parliamentarians can take our discussions on the Global Compact home with them, when they leave New York.

You can update your constituents on the process. You can bring data and facts from the international level into your everyday work. You can combat misperceptions and mistruths with realities. You can drive an evidence-based approach in your parliaments, and among your constituents.

I heard many of you voicing your commitment to doing so during our multistakeholder meeting yesterday. And I want you to know that the United Nations is here, to support you along the way.

But your work will not end once the final document is gavelled. It must continue, until the Compact is adopted in Morocco, in December. And it must continue, as nations around the world work to implement it.

Because, global frameworks cannot be transferred, wholesale, onto regions or countries. They must first be adapted. They must be aligned. They must be tweaked, and adjusted, to fit into different contexts.

But this cannot happen without parliamentarians like you.

You know how things work on the ground. You know how to best communicate with the people you represent. And so, you can help to translate, and transpose this Compact – to make it understood, and to make it work. In doing so, you will play a part in turning a global commitment on migration into a national – and even local – reality.


Excellencies, distinguished parliamentarians, colleagues and friends,

I talked briefly, at the opening of my statement, about the commonalities between the Interparliamentary Union and the United Nations General Assembly.

But I have saved the most important one for last. And that is our shared commitment to multilateralism. The creation of IPU, in 1889, was, I believe, the most important multilateral initiative of its time. And I have no doubt that its work and advocacy contributed to the establishment of the United Nations in 1945.

Yes, IPU and the UN General Assembly are distinct. One convenes parliamentarians; the other diplomats. One connects parliaments of the world; the other has been called the “world parliament”.

But both are working towards the same end: a world in which no problem – big or small – cannot be solved through dialogue, and cooperation.

At a time when multilateralism is under threat, our engagement, and partnership, is needed more than ever. This applies, in particular, to migration. Because the process to adopt the Global Compact will impact the credibility of our multilateral system.  But it also applies to everything we do, both here at the United Nations, and in parliaments around the world.

Please use this Hearing to voice your ideas, solutions and analyses. Please work to identify opportunities for closer cooperation between the Interparliamentary Union and the UN General Assembly, around the Global Compact. And please try to find even more ways in which IPU and the General Assembly can support each other as global champions of multilateralism.

Thank you all again.