Remarks of the Secretary-General to the Migration Event, "The Road to Marrakesh"

Remarks of the Secretary-General to the Migration Event, "The Road to Marrakesh"

Thursday, September 27, 2018

UN Headquarters, New York, 26 September 2018

As delivered.

May I, first of all, express my deep gratitude and appreciation to the Permanent Representatives of Mexico and Switzerland, and to Ms. [Louise] Arbour, for their work together with all Member States, allowing us to be here today.

It is indeed a pleasure to join you for this important step on the way to Marrakech, on the path to a global agreement on migration.

Human mobility is at the top of the political agenda, from town councils to parliaments to the United Nations General Assembly.

Its economic implications make migration a concern for global multinationals and start-ups alike.

And migration is also deeply personal. It is debated everywhere, by those who hope, or fear, that movement across borders will profoundly change their lives.

Migration is a historic and multi-faceted phenomenon involving humanitarian, human rights, and demographic issues. It has deep economic, environmental and political implications. It generates many different, legitimate and strongly-held opinions. Not always the strongly held are legitimate; not always the legitimate are strongly held.

Unfortunately, it is also an issue that has often been misrepresented and exploited for political gain.

Unregulated, unmanaged migration has created false and negative perceptions of migrants that feed into a narrative of xenophobia, intolerance and racism.

That makes agreement on the text of this first-ever Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular Migration a particularly difficult, but at the same time an extremely important achievement.

It is a tribute to the willingness of Member States to listen to each other, and to tackle the complexities of migration in an open and comprehensive way.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The Global Compact for Migration emphasises that collaboration is fundamental to addressing human mobility.

It recognizes that while every sovereign State has the prerogative to govern its borders, our interdependent world demands solutions that are anchored in cooperation and our pursuit of the common good.

It sets out an approach that will benefit migrants, the people they leave behind and the communities they join. It aims to tackle the drivers of irregular and forced migration and reduce the risks migrants face by protecting their human rights. It seeks to address the legitimate concerns of host states and communities; and to leverage the benefits migration brings to host and home countries.

This agreement clearly has broad implications for the entire UN system.

In response, I have moved to establish a new Migration Network within the UN, to support Member States in implementation. This Network will be coordinated by the International Organization for Migration.

I take this opportunity to thank the Director-General of IOM, Ambassador William Lacy Swing, as this week marks the end of his ten years of extraordinary service. We were partners in so many moments, tough moments, in so many areas of the world, that really, it is for me an enormous pleasure to be with you, but also it is with some emotion that I see you leave.

The Migration Network will provide support on all aspects of human mobility, from economic development, to security, the protection of human rights and gender equality.

Nearly half of all the estimated 260 million migrants in our world are women and girls, and implementation of the Global Compact must be fully responsive to their needs and to their voices.

Member States will gather in Marrakech in just ten weeks, for the formal adoption of this Global Compact. I want to thank the Kingdom of Morocco for its generosity in hosting and helping to prepare this landmark conference.

I urge Governments, businesses, civil society, but also local and regional authorities to come to the table ready to make commitments that will maximize the benefits of well-managed migration, and reduce the negative impact of ill-advised policies and a lack of cooperation. 

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is our collective achievement and our collective responsibility.

It provides us with an opportunity to come together and to manage one of the many facets of globalization.

The Global Compact speaks to the heart of the mission of the United Nations, as the world’s multilateral platform for the twenty-first century.

Thank you very much for your support and for your engagement.