The Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration – what’s next?


On December 10, 2018 the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration was adopted in a historical event in Marrakesh. Civil Society Organizations all over the world welcomed this new multilateral framework – and will monitor its implementation.
In our video the Secretary General Antonio Guterres, emotionally explains the Global Compact for Migration to the media. The large majority of states just adopted the document, offering a framework for migration governance and to address in solidarity the huge challenges migration constitutes on our planet.

The Global Compact for migration is the result of Swiss Diplomacy, even so not present in Marrakech to adopt the GCM and finish the widely appreciated facilitation work.

The Global Compact on Migration is not fostering migration – as many say. In contrary, the Global Compact is a response to humanize migration, acknowledging it as a global phenomenon. Our analysis recognizes that there is a problem, but it is not “migration”, it is “inequality in a globalized world” – this fosters migration. We do not want to make migrants pay the price.


For three years, I coordinate and meet so many personalities at local, regional and international level. They engage and put efforts and knowledge to understand the causes of migration, analyzing migrants’ protection needs, debate policy implications on migrants and economies in home and host countries.

Migration is – as far as my understanding has now evolved – a global phenomenon with hazardous implications. It may overrule longstanding policies and concepts, often resulting in stress and spontaneous management and policy response, resulting from polemic debates that build on fear rather than on data. Migration is a global phenomenon in times, where protectionism of acquired wealth or fear is dominant.

The debate on the Global Compact for Migration was vicious, fake news have been spread by automated triggers and the debate has become emotionally irritating.

For countering above trends, we have listed below some findings from the GFMD and GCM discussion, based on academic research and highlighting the variety of implication interlinking migration and development.

When the Millennium Goals where launched by the UN, it became evident that not all benefit equally from Development. Sustainable development requires a series of measures (lately defined in the 17 Development Goals/Agenda 2030). The UN launched a worldwide consultation to engage member states to implement these objectives so as to “assure” positive change for the welfare of all humans – and assuring at least a basic quality of livelihood. Otherwise, other mechanism will imply change. Unfortunately, this is exactly what is happening in some areas: economies and companies accumulate wealth, in their respective field of comparative advantages – hence where they are more productive, cheaper, and more attractive. To say it bluntly: China and India invested in low skill, labor-intensive strategies. Europe and the US in high skill, labor substitute strategies. Evolving economies either have to build their wealth on exporting their natural extractive or agricultural resources (Africa, Chile and Australia) or their labor force (South East Asia). All others try to mix those strategies the best they can.

Is this the sustainable world model of tomorrow? If wealth is not triggering into the family budget – resulting in decent jobs, people start to wonder. Especially in those societies, where unemployment is affecting a large young population with better health and education, with access to information, and cheap transport means. What will people do – if they start realizing that wealth is continuously accumulated elsewhere, if climate change or over exploitation is diminishing their future prospects, if conflict destroys their home economies, and their hope?

Then people start moving – for a better life. Thousands, hundred thousands, millions, multimillions. They turn into migrants, accept hardship, sanctions, oppression, even violence, rape, torture and death. Nothing will stop them. Not borders, not sanctions, not detention, not forced return. Others will move.


This is the reason why Switzerland has facilitated a Global Compact for safe order and regular migration: It is not about Switzerland, it is about a very normal, very human motivation to improve one’s own livelihood, a very reasonable approach to overcome poverty. The global compact for migration is not a threat, nor a treaty. It is the framework of those states and governments agreeing they have a problem to solve:
Not to treat migrants equally well as citizens is one thing, but to treat them often badly – to make them suffer and deny them basic human rights, is a serious threat to our humanity, our foundations.

Why do states allow companies pay dump salaries, exclude some staff from pension provisions, deny family reunification, and react with xenophobia and racism. Why criminalize undocumented migrants their efforts for a better livelihood; deny them access to basic services like health, education and why separate them from their children, detain them, return them forcefully?

The Global Compact for Migration is framing measures to treat all human equally, regardless of status. Respecting human rights for all: the GCM is building on achievements, as we are celebrating human rights 70th Birthday.

Editor’s reflection on what Civil Society is doing – even if the GCM isn’t adopted by Switzerland.


  • However, for those that do not agree on a Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular Migration we have some proposals to influence migration by measures that improve livelihoods elsewhere:
  • Ensure Corporate Responsibility and support corporate tax reform, so to enable investments into the social fabric.
  • Support the Responsible Business Initiative so that wealth and rights are generated where companies are engaged.
  • Engage into free trade agreements that foster investments in job creation and not only in increasing trade and productivity. Trade does complement migration.
  • Provide education, skill and qualification, and networks to people willing to return, so they have perspectives and build livelihoods.
  • Assure accountability of all states related to the SDG Agenda 2030, so to generate perspectives and livelihoods for people to stay.
  • Reduce CO2 Emission and engage in the related treaties, safeguard the oceans, foster biodiversity and engage in Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding in a coordinated way with the UN, OTAN and other institutions so to reduce effectively disaster induced migration.
  • Strengthen Development Aid Cooperation and facilitate remittance and home transfer, as migrants spend 80% of their revenue in host countries, supporting their economies, but the little 20% they send home makes a huge difference to poverty reduction.
  • Engage in Human rights, democracy and press freedom so to enable people to engage within their own countries for better livelihoods.

 The list is reflecting Civil Society Engagements. We are proud to do this work. This work is done based on an analysis that recognizes that there is a problem, but it is not “migration”, it is “inequality in a globalized world”. We do not want to make migrants pay the price.

For more details, check our website: list of GFMD Events Reports.