“It doesn’t say migration is a good thing or a bad thing, it’s a thing,” Louise Arbour, the United Nations official who led negotiations on the compact, told reporters in Geneva last week, emphasizing the need for the international community to address and mitigate that global reality.
Work began after members of the United Nations, including the United States under President Barack Obama, approved a declaration in 2016 saying that no country could manage international migration alone, and agreed to work on a pact. But the Trump administration withdrew its support a year ago, saying that parts of the compact were “inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies.”
Under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a fiercely anti-immigrant leader, Hungary has dismissed the compact as a “pro-migration document.” Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia have also rejected the compact, as have Australia and Israel.
Over the weekend, the government of Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium lost its majority in Parliament after its biggest coalition partner, the right-wing Flemish party, left in opposition to the planned approval of the migration agreement.
Slovakia’s foreign minister, Miroslav Lajcak, who presided at the United Nations General Assembly in July when the organization adopted the compact, said last week that he would resign after the country’s Parliament rejected the accord.
Switzerland said in October that it would approve the pact but reversed course a month later, saying that it would not attend the conference in Morocco or adopt the compact until its national Parliament had debated the issue. Days later, Italy, now led by a right-wing anti-immigrant government, took the same position and said it would not sign anything until lawmakers had their say.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has vocally defended the migration agreement in the German Parliament, but she has faced criticism for her stance on immigration from members of her party and, like her counterparts in France and the Netherlands, she faces pressure from parties on the far right.