10 December 2018

Secretary-General's joint press encounter in Marrakech [with SRSG Louise Arbour]

Good morning everybody. Thank you very much for your presence.
Having been for most of my life directly linked to the questions of migration, both in my official functions but also as a civil society volunteer, it was for me a very emotional moment when I saw the members of the conference unanimously, in acclamation [adopt] the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
This Compact – in full respect of the sovereignty of states, establishes a framework of international cooperation that is absolutely essential when we face the enormous challenges of migration in today’s world.
It is true that through history, migration has always been present and I do believe it has contributed to global wealth, development and prosperity. And it is also true that 80% of the migrants that live in the world, have done so in a safe and orderly way. But we cannot forget the tragedies that we witness every day in deserts, in the sea – everywhere—where people trying to have a better life put themselves in the hands of traffickers and smugglers, that dramatically violate their human rights and cause so many to die. Sixty thousand migrants have perished on the way since the beginning of the century.
And so, it is indeed important to, at the same time, guarantee the human rights of migrants, and create the conditions for countries of origin, transit and destination to better cooperate – respecting the interests of the state and at the same time guaranteeing the human rights of migrants.
We are not establishing a new right to migrate. No. There is not a right for anyone to go anywhere at any time according to his or her whim.
What we are establishing is the obligation to respect the human rights of migrants -- which of course is absolutely obvious when we at the same time celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It would be unconceivable to exclude migrants from the scope of the Universal Declaration.
At the same time, I am deeply convinced that with better international cooperation, it will be possible to invest much more in countries of origin, creating the conditions for people to have an option to stay in their own country and build, with hope, their lives in their own country.
I do believe that better international cooperation will also open the way for more opportunities for legal migration, taking into account the needs of markets, the demography and the situation of different countries in the world.
And I also believe that these will help a much more effective in cracking down on smugglers and traffickers that correspond today to multinational of crimes that benefit enormously financially from the tragedies and the despair of so many people, that many of them die at the hands of those smugglers and those traffickers.
I do believe that, working together in a spirit of cooperation, we can contribute to a better world. We will have more possibilities for harmonious societies in countries of destination for multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious diversity to be valued as a richness for a stronger investment that makes sure that people feel that their identities are respected and that they belong to the community as a whole. I believe this Compact will also help substantially in creating the conditions for a more balanced development in countries of origin, avoiding the forced migration that we all want to avoid at all cost.
And so, this is a very important day and I believe that the world and the migrants, the countries and the people involved, will strongly benefit from the enhanced international cooperation this Compact allows.
SRSG Arbour: Thank you. Let me just add that you have heard the round of applause and the intensity of the applause in the room when the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was adopted with great enthusiasm by Member States who I think actually deserve to be congratulated. They have worked very hard to resolve differences, to understand the complexities of all questions related to human mobility for the last18 months. So this is the culmination of a process in which, I think, the governments represented here today have every reason to be very proud of having serve the interest of their people, their national interest but in the pursuit of a global common good – after, I think, a process that has been an education for everybody involved. This is really a wonderful day, a wonderful occasion. It will make an enormous positive impact in the lives of millions of people – migrants themselves, the people they leave behind and the communities that will then host them. This of course will depend on capturing the spirit of today’s event to move to the implementation of the multiplicity of initiatives that this Global Compact will permit Member States to put in place. I am delighted to echo the words of the Secretary-General: it is a wonderful occasion, really a historic moment and a really great achievement for multilateralism.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, many European countries are not here today. Austria was one of the countries writing the Compact as well and they are not here, they retreated. What does that mean? Are you concerned and is there a worry because of that?
SG: I think that we fully respect the sovereignty of countries. The Global Compact respects the sovereignty of countries. And I believe that, reading carefully the Compact, countries will be able to understand that there are no reasons to be worried about the Compact. And I am hopeful that in the future they will join us in a common venture to the benefit of their own societies of the world as a whole and of the migrants.
Q: Now that the Global Compact is adopted in Marrakech, what is the next step in December? Is it completely finished or do you still have to debate? What is happening now?
SG: The Compact was adopted and now it will move into the General Assembly for endorsement – which means there will be a General Assembly session in which the Members States will receive the Compact as adopted by the Conference and that document will be submitted [for] the endorsement of the General Assembly.
Q: [inaudible] is no longer there. We are talking about Trump in power saying that “I want to build walls.” The Italians, the Hungarians, many saying that there is absolutely no way that they would allow for a Compact that would pave the way to an influx of billions of people in their countries. My question is: in practical terms, what do you hope to achieve in September at the General Assembly when many people are telling you “this is not going to work at all”?
SG: I think the answer was given by the more than 150 countries that were here and that so strongly applauded the Global Compact. And for people like my mother, as I explained, who without migrants would not have enough people to take care of her. People in most developed countries know that without migrants the health systems would collapse. I hope that slowly, and fully understanding the advantages of the Global Compact, we will move more and more together for a better world. Thank you very much.