Croatia Says It Won’t Sign UN’s Global Migration Pact

Joins United States, Hungary, Austria in backing away
November 5, 2018 Updated: November 5, 2018

Croatia said that it will not sign the United Nations’ Global Compact for Migration. The country joins a growing number of countries that have not signed the agreement, including the United States, Hungary, and Austria.

In a statement regarding the Global Compact for Migration (GCM), Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic wrote: “Be assured I will not sign the ‘Marrakesh Agreement,'” Croatian journalist Velimir Bujanec reported on Oct. 31.

The GCM (pdf), set to be signed in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Dec. 11-12, is the first of its kind to set global standards and guidelines for countries to address migration.

On July 13, with the exception of the United States, all other U.N. member nations—of which there are 192—had approved the GCM. However, a growing number of countries have since decided not to sign the non-binding pact, including Hungary and Austria.

Croatia’s decision comes amid increasing tensions at its border in recent months, as thousands of illegal migrants try to cross into the country from Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. The migrants hail from northern Africa, the Middle East, or Asia.

Countries Pull Out

The United States was the first to pull out of the compact in December 2017. Hungary withdrew from the agreement on June 18. Austria announced it would reject the migration compact on Oct. 31.

A number of countries have expressed they would also like to back out of the deal, although they have yet to state their final decision. In July, Australia expressed reservations. On Nov. 1, the Czech Republic announced that it would like to back out of the deal. On the following day, Poland expressed that it “is very likely” that it would also not be a part of the U.N. pact.

The migration compact came about following the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants on Sept. 19, 2016, by 193 U.N. member states.

According to the U.N. website, the GCM provides a framework for facilitating safe and orderly migration globally, with an effort to deal with migration “in a holistic and comprehensive manner.”

It also sets out a range of actionable commitments, which could possibly influence legislation and policymaking for member states.

The compact has 23 objectives that seek to boost cooperation among countries to manage migration, and includes such aims as to “strengthen the transnational response to smuggling of migrants” and “combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration.”

Concerns About Sovereignty

The Trump administration said that the pact, which had been recognized by the Obama administration, is inconsistent with national sovereignty.

“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 then-Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said in a statement on Dec. 3, 2017.

“We simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders,” he said.

Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said at the time, “We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country.”

Australia voiced similar concerns about the U.N. global migration deal in July, saying it wouldn’t sign the agreement “in its current form” as it was not in the nation’s interest, their immigration minister, Peter Dutton, said.

Dutton said at the time that Australia won’t “sign a deal that sacrifices anything in terms of our border protection policies.”

“We’re not going to surrender our sovereignty. I’m not going to allow unelected bodies to dictate to us, to the Australian people,” he told 2GB.

Migration ‘Cannot Become a Human Right’

Recently on Oct. 31, the Austrian government said it wouldn’t sign the migration deal, citing, among other things, fears about a possible watering-down of the distinction between legal and illegal migration, the Epoch Times reported.

“Some of the contents go diametrically against our position,” Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said on Oct. 31.

Austrian politicians review recruits
Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and Austrian President Alexander Van Der Bellen, from left, review recruits on the occasion of national holiday celebrations at Vienna’s Heldenplatz, Austria, Oct. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

“Migration is not and cannot become a human right,” he added. “It cannot be that someone receives a right to migration because of the climate or poverty.”

On Nov. 1, Czech prime minister Andrej Babis said he also opposed the pact.

“It’s not clearly interpreted and it could be abused. The United States has pulled out, Hungary too, now Austria, and Poland is debating it as well,” he said, according to the Irish Times.

“I don’t like the fact that it blurs the distinction between legal and illegal migration … I will propose to partners in the government that we should do the same as Austria and Hungary,” he added, ahead of cabinet talks to take place in the coming week.

‘An Encouragement to Migration’

When Hungary announced its withdrawal from the agreement in June, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a statement that the agreement is “totally at odds with the country’s security interests.”

Hungary Foreign and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto
Hungary’s Foreign and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto addresses the United Nations General assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 22, 2017. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

“The primary issue for us is the security of Hungary and the Hungarian people,” Szijjártó said in the statement. “According to the government’s position, the U.N. Global Compact for Migration is in conflict with common sense and also with the intent to restore European security.

“Hungary does not regard the goals and principles declared by the compact as valid guidelines with regard to itself. In addition, the document does not deal with the truly existing fundamental human rights of people who want nothing else than to be able to live in peace and security in their own homelands,” he said.

Szijjártó added that although the fundamental premise of the agreement is a “good and unavoidable phenomenon,” the document itself is “dangerous, extremist, biased, and an encouragement to migration.”

“It could serve as an inspiration for millions to set out from home,” he said.

Tom Ozimek of The Epoch Times contributed to this article.

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