Brazil announces return to Global Compact for Migration

As indicated in the inauguration speech of the new foreign minister Mauro Vieira, the Lula government announced this Thursday, January 5, Brazil’s return to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in a statement sent to the UN (United Nations) and the IOM (International Organization for Migration).

Pacaraima RR 23 08 2018 Grupo de imigrantes venezuelanos percorre a pé o trecho de 215 km entre as cidades de Pacaraima e Boa Vista.Marcelo Camargo/Ag. Brasil
Pacaraima RR 23 08 2018 Grupo de imigrantes venezuelanos percorre a pé o trecho de 215 km entre as cidades de Pacaraima e Boa Vista.Marcelo Camargo/Ag. Brasil

The country withdrew from the agreement in January 2019, at the start of the Jair Bolsonaro government, on the claim that the Compact posed a threat to national sovereignty. This decision was widely criticized by Conectas and organizations that work for the rights of migrants.

The non-legally binding agreement was signed in December 2018 by 164 countries, including Brazil, to reinforce international cooperation on migration. It highlights 23 objectives to expedite immigration regularization, provide basic services to migrants and eliminate all forms of discrimination.

According to Camila Asano, executive director of Conectas Human Rights, Brazil’s return to the Compact is in keeping with the principles of the country’s Migration Law (Law No. 13,445/17), of considering migration as a human right, not a national security issue.

“The return to the Compact can be seen as yet another act of the recent repeals of anti-rights policies of the Bolsonaro government and it restores Brazil to its position as an international reference on matters of migration and asylum, with a powerful voice in discussions on the subject in international forums,” said Asano.

She explained that, by resuming its international commitments with regard to migration, there are also benefits for Brazilians living abroad, whose numbers are currently higher than the migrants living in Brazil.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said that, on account of the withdrawal from the Compact, Brazil stopped participating in initiatives on the implementation of the document in 2019 and that its return reinforces the commitment of the Brazilian Government to the protection and promotion of the rights of more than 4 million Brazilians living abroad.

What is the Global Compact?

The UN Global Compact for Migration was inspired by the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was signed by 164 countries, among them Brazil, in December 2018, at a conference in Marrakesh, Morocco.

It is a comprehensive document intended to improve management of international migration, address the challenges involved and strengthen migrant rights, thereby contributing to sustainable development. It expresses the collective commitment of its Member States to improving cooperation on international migration.

The Compact “acknowledges that no State can address migration alone, and upholds the sovereignty of States and their obligations under international law”. The document is a non-legally binding cooperative framework based on commitments agreed upon by the States two years previously in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.

According to the UN, 258 million people currently are either displaced or migrants, which represents 3.4% of the world’s population.

The document highlights 23 objectives for international cooperation on immigration. They are:

  1. Collect and utilize accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies
  2. Minimize the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin
  3. Provide accurate and timely information at all stages of migration
  4. Ensure that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation
  5. Enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration
  6. Facilitate fair and ethical recruitment and safeguard conditions that ensure decent work
  7. Address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration
  8. Save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants
  9. Strengthen the transnational response to smuggling of migrants
  10. Prevent, combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration
  11. Manage borders in an integrated, secure and coordinated manner
  12. Strengthen certainty and predictability in migration procedures for appropriate screening, assessment and referral
  13. Use migration detention only as a measure of last resort and work towards alternatives
  14. Enhance consular protection, assistance and cooperation throughout the migration cycle
  15. Provide access to basic services for migrants
  16. Empower migrants and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion
  17. Eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration
  18. Invest in skills development and facilitate mutual recognition of skills, qualifications and competences
  19. Create conditions for migrants and diasporas to fully contribute to sustainable development in all countries
  20. Promote faster, safer and cheaper transfer of remittances and foster financial inclusion of migrants
  21. Cooperate in facilitating safe and dignified return and readmission, as well as sustainable reintegration
  22. Establish mechanisms for the portability of social security entitlements and earned benefits
  23. Strengthen international cooperation and global partnerships for safe, orderly and regular migration

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