Canada joined more than 160 United Nations member states in adopting a new negotiated agreement on international migration Monday.
The non-binding United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration sets out 23 objectives for improving international cooperation on all forms of migration, from refugees to skilled workers.
While underscoring the need to address the “adverse drivers and structural factors” that lead migrants to leave their country of origin, the objectives call for enhancing the “availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration,” investing in skills development and facilitating the “mutual recognition of skills, qualifications and competences,” among other goals.
The document states that its purpose is to optimize the “positive impacts” of migration, which it calls “a source of prosperity, innovation and sustainable development in our globalized world.”
The Government of Canada said the pact is the “first multilateral framework for the global response to migration” and comes at a time when roughly 258 million people are on the move worldwide — a 49 per cent increase over 2000.
Of this number, 68.5 million forcibly displaced persons fleeing war, violence and discrimination.
In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, said the compact provides a useful guidelines for the international community on migration issues.
Hussen told CBC the agreement helps countries “foster inclusive and cohesive societies by empowering migrants” to play more proactive and positive roles in their host communities.
He also stressed that the agreement is non-binding, which means it serves more as a set of best practices for the international community.
The Government of Canada has set immigration levels targets that would see the arrival more than 1.3 million new permanent residents between 2018 and 2021. In 2019 alone, Canada has a target of 330,800 new admissions through its various economic, family and refugee immigration programs.
The compact’s adoption on December 10 — International Human Rights Day — took place against a backdrop of mounting backlash against immigration in many European countries and the United States, among others.
The U.S. government opposed the pact, warning it could compromise national sovereignty when it comes to immigration.
The agreement, however, affirms “the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law.”
“If this compact contributes to more orderly migration and a more humane approach to migration, I think that’s a very positive thing,” said David Cohen, senior partner with the Campbell Cohen Canadian immigration law firm in Montreal. “Immigration is a net benefit for Canada, and the integrity of our immigration system is crucial.”
Objectives for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration:
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