The UN Global Compact for Migration, adopted by the General Assembly in December 2018, sets out a comprehensive approach to achieving enhanced cooperation on international migration. The aim of the Global Compact is to formulate shared principles and objectives with a view to ensuring safe and orderly migration in future and reducing irregular migration.
During the 2018 winter session, Parliament instructed the Federal Council to issue a simple federal decree calling on Parliament to give its assent to the Global Compact. The Federal Council subsequently carried out a further detailed analysis of the content and legal implications of the Global Compact. In submitting the dispatch on the simple federal decree, the Federal Council has acted on Parliament's instructions and provided a basis for its deliberations.
National sovereignty upheld in relation to migration policy
The dispatch on the simple federal decree is based on the position adopted by the Federal Council on 10 October 2018. The draft decree outlines the basic principles of the Global Compact for Migration. The Federal Council's analysis clearly shows that the Global Compact is consistent with applicable Swiss law and practice. Assenting to the Global Compact would not require Switzerland to enter into any new political or financial commitments. The Global Compact reaffirms the sovereign right of states to determine their national migration policy.
From Switzerland's standpoint, the main benefit of the Global Compact is that it is implemented by countries with less robust migration systems. Many of the challenges Switzerland faces in relation to current migration policy, e.g. the repatriation of migrants, stem from inadequate migration systems and a lack of capacities in the countries of origin. It is therefore in Switzerland's interests to assist and work with other countries on strengthening their migration policies, thus giving Switzerland greater sovereign control over migration, both as a country of destination for migrants and in terms of managing migration for the benefit of Swiss citizens. European countries that have already assented to the Global Compact have found it to be an effective instrument for strengthening bilateral and multilateral cooperation on migration issues.
Unlike the Global Compact on Refugees, the Global Compact for Migration does not address the specific challenges associated with refugees and thus takes account of the need to keep the two categories separate. The objectives set out in the Global Compact are in line with Switzerland's migration policy priorities: secure borders, addressing the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement, preventing human trafficking, providing assistance and protection on the ground, repatriation and reintegration, and protecting human rights. Safe, orderly and regular migration contributes to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Parliament's assent to the Global Compact will also enable to Switzerland to participate in and influence discussions on migration at UN level.
The Global Compact is a soft law instrument and therefore non-legally binding. It provides a cooperative framework and expresses the willingness of the international community to find a common approach to managing migration across borders. There are no grounds to conclude that the Global Compact seeks to establish customary international law and that it could thus make its way into international law.
The dispatch on the Global Compact was submitted to Parliament today. Once Parliament has completed its deliberations, the Federal Council will make a final decision on giving assent to the Global Compact in line with the rules laid down in the Federal Constitution.
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