The United Nations Migration Pact is the first international document to establish principles for dealing with refugees and migrants and the US wants nothing to do with it.

The UN Global Migration Compact has been dealt a blow after the US and several other countries have either failed to ratify or pulled out of the agreement.

Migration is not a modern phenomenon, but according to a UN report, the number of migrants globally has increased from 173 million in 2000, to 250 million today.

Ten percent of all migrants are refugees and asylum seekers.

And the numbers are growing.

The European Migration Crisis of 2015 brought the issue to a head and thus out it on the UN agenda.

The UN General Assembly met in September 2016 and decided on an accord named the Declaration of New York.

This declaration was an attempt to find common ground on policies and outline plans to overcome vast waves of migration affecting dozens of nations globally.

The UN then announced that it would hold a conference to adopt a non-binding Global Compact.

This conference will take place next month on December 10 and 11 in Marrakech, Morocco.

All 193 UN member states, except the US, signed the agreement in July of this year. Since then several states have followed the US lead and decided to pull out. Firstly, Austria then Hungary, followed by Australia, the Czech Republic and Poland. 

Even though the agreement is not binding and its purpose is solely to strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations, several Western nations decided to step back.

The UN Global Compact for Migration

The UN Global Compact which “covers all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner” is non-binding.

It aims to facilitate bilateral and multilateral agreements between states and, in particular, allow them to work together at a regional level to devise strategies for migration and refugee management.

States opposed to the Compact 

The United States, the first not to agree to the accord, expressed its displeasure during the UN meeting in July of this year, a clear reflection of the anti-immigration stance by the Trump administration.

President Trump’s harsh tone against the migration caravan from Honduras and the security measures taken at the US border, clearly show that the administration stands against migration.

Austria, another right-wing state, at first signed but then stepped back from the compact.

The centre-right OVP and far-right FPO have been in office since October 2017, and their political agendas have employed significant anti-immigration and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

The Austrian vice-chancellor and leader of the FPO, Heinz-Christan Strache, said: "Austria rejects the possibility that the migration pact could establish new customary international law which would be binding on Austria or could be interpreted as such.”

In particular, the Austrian government takes the view that migration is not a human right.

The Polish Prime Minster Mateusz Morawiecki announced his withdrawal from the agreement last Friday using similar words to his Austrian counterpart. 

“We believe that here our regulations, our sovereign rules on border protection and migration control are our absolute priority,” he said.

The Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said of the migrant compact: “It’s not clearly interpreted and it could be abused. The United States has pulled out, Hungary too, now Austria, and Poland is debating it as well.”

In Australia, there is a same tone of “we won’t surrender our sovereignty to the UN”.

What do the governments of these states have in common?

Note that the ruling politicians of these six states are all either centre-right or far-right populists.

Therefore, the populist jargon of national sovereignty, border control and legalising migration per se is no surprise.

While the problem of migration is an international problem, it cannot be resolved by national governments alone.