Following its endorsement, much has been said about the implications, including oppositions raised by countries like Australia, the United States, and in parts of Europe. They see the GCM as a threat to their national sovereignty and claim that it encourages global flows rather than controlling them.
However, several migration scholars and experts have highlighted the importance of the compact as a cooperative agreement and stressed upon the advances it can make in the management of contemporary migration.
The GCM indeed needs further development as a one-size-fits-all approach cannot always apply to migration in all societies. However, it is a significant step towards a global approach to migration through encouraging regional and international collaboration and promoting evidence-based policy making.
Much of the current political debate on migration focuses on south to north migration. The GCM, however, emphasizes a more holistic understanding of migration, and states that we all are, in fact, “countries of origin, transit and destination.” While this simplifies the issue as mobility is not always accessible to all, it is an important theoretical development in the way we think about migration.
Migration is no longer a linear move from one point to another, occurring within a single point in time. It involves a host of different pathways and flows including more temporary forms, as well as circular, onward, and return migration processes.
The compact calls for a timely shift in focus on not only why people move and where they move, but also on how they move. With migration increasingly becoming an inevitable reality of today’s world, considering how people move is crucial in discouraging unsafe and irregular migration.
The GCM considers diverse regulatory, commercial, humanitarian, technological, and social actors and actions that are involved in the process of moving and calls for a cooperative and evidence-based approach to tackling global mobility.
Knowledge and Analysis
One of the fundamental premises of the compact is to strengthen knowledge and analysis of contemporary migration that will allow the development of sustainable global policies for origin, transit, and destination countries.
Predictive analysis is the way forward as it is a proactive approach towards a realistic understanding and management of global migration trends, movements, and needs. Coupled with a non-binding agreement, it provides a win-win situation for states that are constantly investing in border security measures, rigorous vetting mechanisms, and computerized surveillance systems.
The GCM further emphasizes that the management of safe, orderly, and regular migration requires a “shared responsibility” that works towards managing migration through legal channels and casting away nationalist ideas of border protection and closures. Providing safe, legal avenues will help eradicate channels of illegal and irregular migration.
With rising nationalism all over the globe, only time will tell to what extent the GCM will be implemented. Nevertheless, it is important at this stage to envision migration in a more positive light rather than seeing it as a global crisis.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) December 1, 2018
The compact provides a “treasure chest” of ideas to achieve this, including international and bilateral cooperation on labor mobility, identification of global skills gaps, improved family reunification processes, and global coordination in minimizing the drivers that make people leave.
The issue to consider, however, is whether these general standards apply and work for all states and societies. Perhaps the broad objectives of the GCM can be applied to achieve smaller, more specific goals through partnerships and deals between states, cities, and businesses. A recent example of this is Spain’s involvement in managing sea arrivals, which was previously largely managed by Greece and Italy alone.
Why the GCM Matters
Contrary to far-right nationalist perspectives, the GCM importantly highlights that migration is an inevitable phenomenon of our interconnected world. If managed effectively, it has positive outcomes for all involved – migrants, communities, and home and host societies.
By establishing that migration is a “defining feature of our globalized world,” the GCM envisions a fair, ethical, and humane future for international migration where it is a matter of genuine choice for people rather than being a compelling economic need or desperate safety measure. While indeed a declaration of wishful thinking, the GCM’s optimistic approach towards migration is both timely and necessary in paving the way forward.
The opposition by countries like Australia, the U.S., and some E.U. member states is a disappointment, but the GCM is nonetheless a historic moment and a substantial first step towards a more globally negotiated and coordinated solution for one of the most significant political and social issues of our times.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.