Whilst world leaders struggle with questions of sovereignty and the mass movements of migrants and refugees, a global conversation is taking place with representatives from States, academic institutions and civil society. ANU Law refugee and migration law expert Marianne Dickie has ensured that ANU experts will be able to participate in a series of sessions the United Nations on safe and orderly migration.
Responding to the highest ever number of people displaced by war worldwide, the UN General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for refugees and migrants in 2016. The Declaration committed to the establishment of a global compact for the safe orderly and regulation migration to be approved at an intergovernmental conference in 2018.
The global compact will be established in 2018 at an intergovernmental conference for heads of state at UN Headquarters, however refugee and migration experts from global sectors, including academia, have already begun the process of participating in informal interactive preparatory discussions.
The UN has scheduled the six informal meetings throughout 2017, inviting speakers from academia, civil society, non-government organisations, the private sector, migrant organisations and diaspora communities to discuss the issues that will ultimately inform the global compact.
Each meeting has a different migration theme beginning with Human Rights of all migrants which will underpin all further discussions. The meetings will also cover drivers of migration, international cooperation and governance of migration, contributions of migrants and diasporas, smuggling of migrants and irregular pathways to migration.
“Whilst states will take the lead in enacting policies, the discussions offer a unique opportunity for participants to exchange views, present States with examples of practices that work, and ensure multiple perspectives are included in the development of the global compact.” Ms Dickie said.
“The exact form of the final global compact is not yet known, at the first two informal discussions participants varied in their view of the outcome. Some called for the global compact to act as an instrument that identified gaps in international law and provide guidance on best practice frameworks, whilst others warned that merely reiterating current commitments would not move the process of ensuring safe migration forward. Overall participants agreed that the compact should provide a means of transferring words into deeds.”
She said the discussions will highlight the experience across the world against Australia's legislative and policy reactions to migration.
“For example only a handful of the forty participants in the informal discussions on human rights supported the continuation of detention of migrants and the majority disagreed with the detention of children. Australia also stood out as three countries advocating sovereignty over human rights.”
The discussions will be held between now and October in Geneva and New York. Ms Dickie hopes to join ANU colleagues in bringing a unique view to the forum on legislative and policy practices that could enhance and protect the rights of migrants seeking to travel to Australia and throughout the world.