UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed regret Monday that the United States is ending its participation in negotiations for a Global Compact on Migration aimed at strengthening governance of the movement of people across borders.
The U.S. Mission to the United Nations informed Guterres over the weekend that numerous provisions in the New York Declaration that launched the process for a compact “are inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies and the Trump administration’s immigration principles.”
In the declaration, all 193 U.N. member states — including the U.S. under President Barack Obama — said no one country can manage international migration on its own. They agreed to launch a process leading to the adoption of a global compact in 2018.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Monday that the U.S. withdrawal is “a decision which we regret, but there’s still plenty of time for U.S. engagement on this issue.”
“The decision should not disrupt what we see as a clear, unanimous outcome of the New York Declaration for such a global compact,” he said, stressing that it will not be legally binding but will be “grounded in international cooperation and respect of national interests.”
The U.S. announcement came ahead of Monday’s opening of a stock-taking meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on the compact. It follows five regional meetings, hearings and civil society and national consultations around the world.
Dujarric said Louse Arbour, the U.N. special representative for international migration, told the meeting “there is nothing in there to contradict a state’s sovereign right, subject to international and domestic law, to manage who enters and stays within its borders.”
He said the Canadian jurist told delegates that “the success of the global compact will rest on” getting the maximum number of countries to buy in politically and morally, and “a willingness to enhance cooperation at the regional and international levels.”
Brenden Varma, spokesman for General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak, stressed that migration is a global phenomenon that demands a global response.
“The role of the United States in this process is critical as it has historically and generously welcomed people from all across the globe and remains home to the largest number of international migrants in the world,” he said. “As such, it has the experience and expertise to help ensure that this process leads to a successful outcome.”
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement that “no country has done more than the United States and our generosity will continue.”
“But our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone,” she said. “The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty.”