19 July 2019
Seventy-third Session, 100th Meeting (PM)

General Assembly Extends Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support’s Term of Office, Agrees on Format for International Migration Review Forums

The General Assembly today decided to exceptionally extend the term of the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support and adopted a resolution outlining details of international migration review forums and deciding to convene the first one in 2022.

Adopting the draft resolution “Format and organizational aspects of the international migration review forums” (document A/73/L.99) by a recorded vote of 118 in favour to 5 against (Estonia, Hungary, Israel, Poland, United States), with 13 abstentions, the Assembly decided that the forums will be convened under its auspices, operate under its rules of procedure, take place during the first part of 2022 and thereafter every four years at United Nations Headquarters, will last for four days and be held at the highest possible political level, including Heads of State or Government. 

The world body decided that the forums will be held within existing resources.  It also decided to open participation in the forums to all Member States and members of specialized agencies with observer status with the Assembly, and invited intergovernmental organizations and other entities having received a standing invitation to participate in its work.

Reiterating the importance of the effective participation of all relevant stakeholders, it invited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with Economic and Social Council consultative status and those accredited to the preparatory process of intergovernmental consultations and conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, encouraging them to register with the Secretariat in order to participate in the forums.

The Assembly also requested its President to submit to Member States for their consideration a list of other representatives of relevant NGOs, academic, scientific and knowledge-based institutions; the private sector; trade unions; faith-based, migrant and youth organizations; diaspora communities; and other relevant stakeholders.  The Assembly, by the resolution, further decided on details of the structure of the forums, including that each will be held within existing resources and adopt a progress declaration in its closing segment.

“The forum becomes a foundation for the implementation of the Global Compact, which aims at achieving a positive impact on millions of lives,” said Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador).  “Today’s decision underlines the importance of multilateralism and the United Nations relevance.”

Prior to adopting “L.99”, several Member States explained their positions.

The representative of the Philippines called on Member States to support “L.99”, which operationalizes the Global Compact’s objectives and commitments on dialogue, cooperation, sharing best practices and strengthening partnerships.  “We have laid the foundation and, with this resolution, are setting it into motion,” she said, adding that her country will not falter on commitments to protect the human rights of migrants, regardless of status.

El Salvador’s delegate recognized that the forums would be the main platform to consider progress towards implementing the Global Compact.  For its part, El Salvador stands ready to take action, he said, indicating that his country will support “L.99”.

The representative of Mexico, in an explanation of vote before the vote, said his delegation would vote in favour of the text.  Emphasizing that no country alone can effectively manage the flow of people across borders, he said it is up to the United Nations to facilitate dialogue and provide assistance on migration.  He added that Mexico will welcome a diversity of voices every time international migration review forums are held.

The representative of Morocco, speaking on behalf of several delegations, said “L.99” contains substantive and innovative elements for a follow-up mechanism to the Marrakech Compact on Migration.  It does not create something new, but rather confirms a decision taken in Marrakech to establish such migration review forums.  While all delegations might not agree with some of the elements of “L.99”, they believe it is a balanced text and therefore they strongly support it.

The representative of Indonesia said international migration must be discussed in a cooperative way, unobscured by unilateral interests.  Safe, orderly and regular migration will solidify the three pillars of the United Nations, namely peace and security, human rights and development.

Following its adoption, some delegates explained their position.

The United States delegate said his country did not accept the Global Compact, nor “L.99”.  Decisions on how to secure a country’s borders are among the most important sovereign decisions a State can make.  The United States opposes the Start-Up Fund for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration as well as the creation of new mechanisms and bureaucracies, particularly considering the existence of the International Organization for Migration.  In addition, holding these forums puts an unnecessary cost burden on Member States.

Italy’s representative said her delegation abstained from voting on the Global Compact and it continued in its abstention today.  In addition, Italy will not contribute in any manner to the Start-Up Fund.

Morocco’s representative, speaking on behalf of several countries, said paragraph 18 (a) containing the terms “within existing resources” should not limit its ability of the forums to fulfil their mandate.  All necessary resources should be made available through the United Nations regular budget.

The representative of the Czech Republic, recalling that his country opted not to join the Global Compact or to participate in the Marrakech conference, said his delegation cannot accept the word “welcoming” in preambular paragraph 1 of “L.99”.  It therefore decided to abstain.  He stressed, however, that the migration review forums can be an important platform for discussing global migration problems.  His delegation welcomes the fact that the forums will be open to all countries and looks forward to further cooperation on migration.

The representative of Latvia said her delegation abstained from voting on “L.99” for the same reason that it did not join the Global Compact.

The observer of the Holy See said that from the outset, the Holy See has been very supportive of the process that led to the Global Compact.  The text is the fruit of compromise and therefore imperfect, but it marks an advance in the shared responsibility for people on the move.  The Holy See is pleased that the migration review forums shall aim to identify key challenges, opportunities and emerging issues as well as the scope for further cooperation on migration, including those countries that did not join the Global Compact.

The representative of Viet Nam, who voted in favour of the text, said the migration review forums can contribute to implementing the Global Compact. However, there can be no perfect text and there is room for improvement and clarification.  He urged consultations with Member States prior to forums, adding that United Nations entities must act within their respective mandates.  In other business, the Assembly considered its agenda item on the Report of the Peacebuilding Commission, contained in a note by the Secretary-General (document A/73/946).  In doing so, it decided to approve the exceptional extension of the term of Oscar Fernandez-Taranco of Argentina as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support until 31 October 2021.

The General Assembly will meet again at a date and time to be determined.

For information media. Not an official record.