The way forward to the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is becoming clearer, according to Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.
His remarks came on December 4, 2017, as Head of Delegation to the Stocktaking Meeting of the Preparatory Process towards the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration taking place in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
In his intervention, Archbishop Auza said that the informal thematic debates of this phase have led to clarity on how migration is a common, natural and human response to crisis and to desire for a better life, how the upcoming Global Compact needs to establish a comprehensive international framework featuring international cooperation and shared responsibility, and that strong consideration must be given to bilateral, regional and international agreements and processes, taking advantage of the expertise of institutions like the International Organization of Migration and civil society organizations, including faith-based ones. He shared Pope Francis’ framework that migrants must be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated and described how each of those four elements are key toward the successful negotiation of an effective global framework.
His intervention follows.
Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the Stocktaking meeting of the
Preparatory process towards the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration
“Retrospective Session – Looking back on Phase I”
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 4 December 2017
Distinguished Moderator and Panelists,
My Delegation would like to thank you for your invaluable work throughout Phase I of the preparatory process leading to the negotiation of the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and for this critical opportunity to take stock of the key inputs received during the informal thematic debates of this Phase. Clarity, my delegation believes, has been reached on the following three points.
First, migration is not a new phenomenon. While massive numbers of people have recently been forced to leave their homes due to violent conflicts, persecution and grave human rights violations, natural and manmade disasters, and the scourge of poverty, migration is a natural human response to crisis and a testament to the innate desire of every human being for happiness, greater opportunities, and a better life. The right to migrate, whether in times of crisis or stability, must be recognized and respected.
Second, the Global Compact must establish a comprehensive international framework, featuring international cooperation and shared responsibility, to manage global migration and human mobility. This framework would integrate the best practices and lessons learned from local, regional and international experiences with migration in a coherent and practical way that, once adopted, would serve as a point of reference for sustainable, safe, regular and orderly migration moving forward. The foundations for this framework, as we have heard throughout Phase I, already exist.
Third, strong and careful consideration must be given to bilateral, regional and international agreements and processes for the protection and the best interest of migrants as the basis for international cooperation in the global management of migration. The technical capabilities and field expertise of multilateral institutions, like the International Organization of Migration, and civil society organizations, including faith-based organizations, are useful instruments and catalysts to reach a Global Compact on migration.
Distinguished Moderator and Panelists,
These points are also reflected in the pastoral concern of the Catholic Church, and in many of its works. Pope Francis has summarized the most crucial inputs and issues that the Global Compact must address and incorporate in four verbs: to welcome, protect, promote and integrate.
To welcome. This means, above all, to offer migrants broader options to enter destination countries safely and legally, and to assure that their repatriation, which is normally voluntary, is carried out under the necessary just and safe conditions. Such a welcome involves, inter alia, a concrete commitment to increase and simplify the process for granting work and humanitarian visas, and for reunifying families. It includes creative solutions like temporary visas granted to migrants forced to flee conflicts in neighboring countries, even if they do not qualify as refugees or asylees. It means promoting temporary and circular migration schemes that address short-term labor and skills gaps. Migrants must be guaranteed personal safety and access to basic services regardless of status. In safeguarding the fundamental dignity of every migrant, we must strive to find alternative solutions to ongoing detention. In all instances, the centrality of the human person obliges us to treat
every migrant with dignity and respect.
To protect. All necessary steps must be taken to defend the fundamental human rights and dignity of migrants regardless of their migratory status. Such protection begins in the country of origin, and consists in offering reliable and verified information before departure and in providing safety from illegal recruiters, human smugglers and traffickers. This protection must continue as migrants move through countries of transit and arrive in countries of destination. The guarantee of consular assistance, the right to identity documents at all times, and fair access to justice must be ensured. My Delegation would like to call particular attention here to the protection of underage migrants, starting from the principles laid out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Instead of detention, temporary custody or foster programs should be provided for unaccompanied minors and minors separated from their families. Every effort should also be made to reunite them with their
family members. Migrants in vulnerable situations, like those with disabilities or the elderly, must never be denied assistance and support regardless of their migratory status.
To promote. Going beyond the protection of the rights and dignity of migrants, effective policies and programs should be in place to ensure that migrants are enabled to contribute to or earn their upkeep, exercise their fundamental freedoms, including religious freedom, and participate in the social life of their host communities. The promotion of the best interests of underage migrants, such as access to education and basic health-care, must be guaranteed regardless of migration status.
Lastly, to integrate. When migration is well managed, migrants not only make a positive contribution to the economy, but also to social and cultural life, increasing the exchange of different traditions and experiences among persons and communities. A culture of encounter is a key factor in fostering harmony in diversity. Integration cannot be an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity. Rather, it is a process of mutual knowledge and reciprocal openness to what is good and positive from each other’s cultural identity. Practical steps and legislative measures are needed to achieve integration, like documenting and disseminating best practices of integration, developing programs to prepare local communities for integration processes, facilitating integration through the provision of legal assistance and basic services, as well as adopting special legislation that would allow law-abiding, long-period resident undocumented migrants to
apply for legal status.
Distinguished Moderator and Panelists,
My Delegation believes that these key elements should form part of the foundation of a successful negotiation of an effective global framework for safe, orderly and regular migration.
1. Pope Francis, “Migrants and refugees: seekers of peace,” World Day of Peace Message, 2018.
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