– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Mrs. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly

26 September 2018



Road to Marrakech

Mr. Secretary General,

Minister Bourita of the Kingdom of Morocco,

Distinguished Ministers,

Special Representative Madame Arbour,

Director-General Ambassador William Swing – and here let me say that we shall miss you and let me thank for your commitment and involvement

Ms. Monica Ramirez, Founder of Justice for Migrant Women – your presence here is extremely important, as a representative of civil society

Excellencies and invited guests,

It is a pleasure to be with you today to discuss the ‘Road to Marrakech’ and the path towards making the Global Compact on Migration a reality on the ground. Let me extend a sincere thank you to the Kingdom of Morocco, for hosting us in December in Marrakesh.

I would also like to thank our co-sponsors: Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Rwanda and Turkey, as well as recognize the work of Mexico and Switzerland, who helped to facilitate the discussions that have led us to this point.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe it is fair to say that few issues have so bitterly divided our world as that of migration this past decade. Whether due to economic pressures, violence or the threat of it, poor governance and human rights abuses, the world has seen, in a very short time span, record levels of migration.

And it has not occurred without great human cost. A shocking and unsettling number of people pay a high price every day for the hopeful act of seeking out a new, better life- crossing deserts or seas. I thus feel it is only appropriate that I preface my remarks by expressing my condolences and heartbreak for those whose lives have been lost.

While we cannot go back and change their fate, we can change the fate of those that would follow.

That is why it is so important that, as a global community, we look ahead to determine how we can address this shared challenge with principle, compassion and pragmatism.

In doing so, we must acknowledge that while migration offers opportunities for migrants and hosts alike, those who resist or oppose migration tend to look only at the challenges, real or just perceived.

It is only when we pay attention to this, soberly and with clear eyes, that we can begin the process of addressing the issue in a way that is beneficial and accommodating to all – reflecting the needs of migrants while also responding to the concerns of hosting communities; recognizing the economic potential of migration, while also proactively planning for the pressures that irregular migration can place on countries; and above all, engaging with our constituencies in an open national dialogue to ease the fears and concerns that too often devolve into xenophobia.

I believe, we all recognize, that migration is a very complex issue -yet a number of countries have shown from their immigration policies and record that it is not beyond our ability to get it right.

Excellencies, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular migration is a balanced text, which addresses both the opportunities and the challenges of irregular migration.

Not only is the Global Compact the first international framework to try and manage international migration at a global level; it also reiterates important principles, like the protection of human rights of all migrants, regardless of their status.

And it introduces new ones, like the provision of some basic services for all migrants; the strengthening of international cooperation and global partnerships; and cooperation between countries of origin and of destination to ensure safe and dignified returns – just to mention only a few.

The GCM would save lives, protecting the most vulnerable and putting an end to thousands of deaths of women, children and men. It would help put an end to trafficking; smuggling networks; the mistreatment of migrants and to the separation of migrant families. The road to Marrakech is therefore the road of hope.

At a time when multilateralism is being routinely tested, and when migration remains such a pressing concern, there is no better time for us, the United Nations, to demonstrate our ability to deliver on shared challenges than now.

That means not just the road to Marrakesh, contrary to the title of this event, but a road that carries on past Marrakesh to the General Assembly next year where we finalize the International Migration Review Forum.

Thank you.