Burden Bearing, Burden Exporting: The Global Compact for Migration Seen from the Arab World



Although The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) is not a treaty, and, therefore, not a legally biding document, its endorsement by the United Nations (152 of its members voted in favour of the Compact on 19 December 2018) put it on the agenda of international affairs. Particularly, the Compact is likely to justify pro-migration global actions to dismantle further the national policies in matters of migration, creating a context in which illegal migration will be more tolerated, if not encouraged. For this reason, it is set to play a pivotal role in the debates on migration in the years to come. However, because of its stated globalist political nature, and showy ideological character, the document sparked criticisms, scepticism and protests from different countries, on different continents (The United States, Hungary, Australia, Brazil, etc.).

In order to illustrate this political-ideological globalist framework of the document suffices it here to quote the authors of the document saying:  “we learned that migration is a defining feature of our globalized world, connecting societies within and across all regions, making us all countries of origin, transit and destination”.[1] The least that could be said about this statement is that it is a red herring that distracts from the problem of illegal migration, which is fundamentally different from legal migration regulated by national and international laws.

Since the issue at stake is whether the Western countries (usually being the host countries of migration) would accept the Compact, and consequently migration or not, attention was turned to the attitudes of these countries: a clear rejection by some countries, caution from others, or enthusiasm for the Compact on behalf of other countries. In general, West European countries are prudent, and if their governments do not reject the Compact all at once, they delegate the matter to the parliaments for deliberations.

Thus far, there have been no studies which investigate the attitudes of countries which export migration, particularly those in the Middle East and North Africa. Yet, such investigation would allow us to inform the reader and the decision-makers on some views of the Global Compact for Migration seen from the MENA region. Additionally, analysing these attitudes within Middle Eastern and North African contexts will help us understand better the political and economic use of migration by these governments to export their incapacities of a better sharing of resources and good governance. In the pages that follow, we will give an account of attitudes of some Arab countries towards the Compact, discussing the interests of these countries in supporting or criticizing the Compact. We will inspect the positions of two supportive Arab governments (The United Arab Emirates and Tunisia) and two critical Arab governments (Algeria and Lebanon) before and in the aftermath of the United Nations Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Migration in Marrakech, Morocco (10-11 December 2018).


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[1] Final draft of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (11 July 2018), p. 2.

https://www.un.org/pga/72/wp-content/…/51/2018/…/migration.pdf (last accessed 01-01-2019)