Austria Will Not Join Global Migration Agreement


Austria said Wednesday it will join the United States and Hungary in not signing a global agreement meant to minimize the factors that push migrants to leave their home country, while boosting safety, access to services and inclusion for those who are compelled to go.

Nations are due to gather in early December in Morocco to adopt the non-binding Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which was negotiated through a U.N.-led process during the past two years.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said his government fears the agreement would pose a threat to its national sovereignty and that it would blur the lines between legal and illegal migration.

Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said there is not and should not be a human right to migration.

Hungary also cited concerns about the agreement going against national interests when it announced in July it would not be part of the pact.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters that contrary to his government’s policies, the agreement would promote migration as “good and inevitable,” and “it could inspire millions” of migrants.

The United States was the first to step away from the negotiations, deciding in December of last year that the proposed agreement was “inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies.”

Then-U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States supports international cooperation on migration issues, “but it is the primary responsibility of sovereign states to help ensure that migration is safe, orderly, and legal.”

The Global Compact features 23 objectives, including boosting access to basic services, strengthening anti-smuggling and anti-trafficking efforts, eliminating discrimination, safeguarding conditions that ensure decent work, and facilitating safe and dignified return for those who are sent back home.

The United Nations estimates there are about 258 million migrants in the world — or just over three percent of the world’s population. The world body considers a migrant to be anyone who changes their country, regardless of the reason. It expects the number of migrants to increase due to factors such as population growth, trade, rising inequality and climate change.

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