Near verbatim transcript of the Press conference by Louise Arbour, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, 28 November 2018

News and Press Release
Originally published
View original

Louise Arbour: Thank you very much. Good afternoon, I think some of you are probably quite familiar with this process, so I’ll make some very brief remarks and I’m very happy to take your questions. Just a recap on the process. The United Nations General Assembly, coming out of the New York Declaration in 2016, passed a resolution launching the process for the adoption of a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. So, this entire process is governed by a GA resolution. It consisted of a series of consultations and negotiations. The consultations covered a period of about a year and a half, and the formal negotiations started in New York last January. It was preceded by a report by the Secretary-General entitled “Making Migration Work for All”, and then the two co-facilitators presented the zero draft of the text that Member States negotiated. The negotiations took place, as I said, over about a six-month period, at a rate of about a week per month, and between sessions of negotiations, obviously, Member States, one assumes, consulted their capitals, in fact there was some participation from, expertise coming from capitals in the negotiations, and this led to, on 13 July, an agreement, a formal agreement on the text. The resolution that governs this process contemplates that after the text is agreed upon, it has to be adopted, formally adopted, at an inter-governmental conference, and this one will take place as you know on 10 and 11 December in Marrakesh.

So this is the process. Then the process essentially returns to the General Assembly and there’ll be a final resolution of the General Assembly that will adopt, that endorses the adoption of the text by the inter-governmental conference. So this process was put in place by the Member States. It has led, in my view, to a very useful document. I will say a few words about the Compact itself. I strongly urge you to read it. It’s a lengthy document, but its salient features are that this, of course, is not a legally-binding document. It would have been surprising to see a legally-binding text being negotiated over such a short period on such a complex issue. It’s, in fact, if one can make any analogy to the nature of this document, it’s like the SDGs. So it’s not legally binding, but it is the framework that Member States agree upon, to try to channel their initiatives on migration-related issues, for the greater benefit of all concerned, of Member States themselves, of migrants, of host communities, of countries of origin, and so on.

It’s very comprehensive, it’s often described as a 360-degree approach. So it starts with fundamental principles. Maybe the most important one to recall is that nothing in this document infringes in any way state sovereignty. Quite the opposite: it recognizes as a governing principle that states have the prerogative, in fact the responsibility to control their territory, to control their borders, to determine which of non-nationals will have the right to enter, stay on their territory, under what terms and conditions. There’s absolutely nothing in this document that in any way infringes on this principle. Having said that, I think it wisely recognizes that by its very nature, cross-border human mobility engages the idea of state inter-dependence. It involves immediately the interest and actions of more than one State. And, if I can add my own editorial comment, I think it’s pretty self-evident that the best way to have nationally-determined migration policies enforced is with the assistance and cooperation of one’s neighbours, and of the world-at-large, rather than have resistance, if not sabotaging, by competing interests, in an attempt to enforce national policies.

So this is the document. It covers general ideas, such as the desirability of collecting better data on human mobility, I think the deficiencies in quality knowledge lead to credibility being given to all kinds of assertions that have no foundation in reality but that can poison the discussion and therefore lead to inappropriate policies being put in place.

So, data collection. And then in a sense, the 23 objectives follow in a sense a kind of imaginary chronology of mobility. So, reducing the drivers of forced displacement, and that in and of itself in a sense is a re-enactment of the entire sustainable development goal, agenda, of the conflict-prevention agenda, of the climate change agenda, all factors that may come into play to trigger movement, particularly irregular movements of people. Member States agree that they should cooperate to reduce these. And then it goes through issues of people in transit, that leads inevitably to some humanitarian concerns. Lots of issues that deal with people who have migrated. This is a point that I think is very important to stress. Very often when one talks about migration, we use the expression “people on the move”. When we say on the other hand that there are in the world today some 258 million migrants, these are defined by people who have lived for more than one year in a country other than their country of birth or citizenship. So we’re talking about what experts call “stocks of migrants” as opposed to “flow of migrants”. There are lots of issues: decent work standards, remittances, the cost of transferring money back to countries of origin.

So, the Global Compact in fact proposes a series of initiatives to harvest the many, many well-documented benefits of well-managed migration, and at the same time proposes a series of initiatives to try to curtail some of its downsides, for instance irregular migration, which puts people’s lives at risk, which puts government in a situation of not having control over who’s on their territory. And it deals of course, an issue that was particularly significant for European countries in the negotiations, with facilitating cooperation on returns, return and re-integration of either failed asylum-seekers, or people who, for whatever reason, no longer have the legitimacy to stay in a country and need to be returned to their country of origin.

So this is the document. It’s, as I said, it’s very forward-looking, in my opinion it’s not the end of the road, in fact it’s the beginning of a process that, if well-implemented in whatever parts different countries feel are particularly relevant to them, will serve us very well in managing the reality of human mobility which, if we take into account demographic projections that change the nature of work, with new technologies, the probably impacts of climate change, is a reality that will become increasingly challenging if it’s not properly managed in a cooperative fashion.

So we’re all very much looking forward to 12 days to Marrakesh and the adoption of the Compact. Very happy to take your questions.

Question: Thank you so much for this conference. I have a few questions about what’s going on in Switzerland. You’re probably aware of the very heated debate here about the Global Compact. I was wondering if you could say a few words about this whole debate about soft law, because obviously that’s what scares the Swiss parliament now. They’re afraid of the fact that soft law might change into droit coutumier, and that’s one thing. Second question: what’s the real interest of Switzerland in adopting this document, since Switzerland was a co-facilitator of this process and now the wind has turned in a different direction. What do you have to say about that? Thank you.

Louise Arbour: The Global Compact, as its name indicates, is a global document. It’s not designed to curtail or to address the very narrow, specific interest of any specific country or region. It, as I said, is non-legally binding and therefore it offers a menu of activities and options that Member States may choose or not to enforce at any given time. It doesn’t change anything. Actually, I’m not too sure that I understand exactly what this so-called soft-law mission creep concern seems to suggest. It’s, certainly, with respect to public opinion, I’m a lawyer, I really don’t quite get it, I’m not sure what the general public will understand about this concern about the kind of soft law creeping in, which eventually would lead, as I understand it, to binding legal principles. I don’t think that’s the case. As much as I hesitate to offer for free legal opinion, I would suggest to you that even if there was such a concern, which I don’t think there is, I’m not sure that Switzerland would have a lot to worry about, because I’d be very hard-pressed to see what exactly is it that there is in this Compact that Switzerland is not already in full compliance with, to the extent that one could be in full compliance with efforts to reduce the drivers of migration, for instance. And what is it exactly that would, if in fact it was to creep in to more binding obligations, would bind Switzerland against its will in a manner that would be contrary to its interest. I honestly don’t quite understand that. And I would frankly say that to any country. I don’t think that this idea of soft law… Frankly, it’s not inconceivable, although I doubt that it would take place in my lifetime, that the time will come where Member States of the United Nations will have a larger appetite to bind themselves collectively to something like they did in 1951, adopting the Refugee Convention. It’s not unthinkable that things could become so difficult to manage that binding instruments may need to be put in place to face a new reality of forced displacement. For instance, if we were to face in the 50 years, climate-related migration that would require this kind of initiative, it would take years I think to put in place. This is not what is happening today. It’s actually the beginning of what I think is a necessary, helpful, cooperative model, which, if in fact it’s undertaken in that spirit, a cooperative spirit, would avoid the necessity of any coercive measures on almost any of these issues. I think the cooperative model would yield the benefits to all concerned: countries of origin, transit, destination, migrants, communities that host migrants within countries, and so on.

Marrakesh will be… Let me say another thing. During the negotiations – these were very intense negotiations. States extracted concessions from each other, they debated sometimes specific language, in specific parts of the Compact, dealing for instance with regular, irregular migration, with a lot of issues. And this was very informative, and I think the process that took place in New York was very respectful. I t was a lot more grounded in reality, facts, data and evidence for what we have than what we often see in the press and in national discourse. And I hope that Marrakesh will launch another opportunity for a more sober, evidence-based, respectful conversation that reflects the reality of human mobility, and not the kind of mythology exclusively about the challenges and the dangers that it poses.

Question: On the same line there, now quite a few countries have decided now that they are not going to Marrakesh. To what extent do you think that this is undermining your attempts here to push it through, and also, there are quite a few Foreign Ministers here today, I was just speaking with the Hungarian Foreign Minister who is obviously not very favourable to this Compact, are you planning on meeting with him, do you have indications that he might also be speaking with other countries, trying to get them to pull out. Is that something that you are concerned about, perhaps?

Louise Arbour: This process is a Member State process. It was their initiative. They agreed on the modalities resolution defining the process, they participated, all of them except the United States. The United States said publicly that it would not participate even before the first draft of the Global Compact was tabled. Everybody else was there. Everybody else was there when the text was agreed upon. There are still, I don’t know, at least 180 Member States of the United Nations who are still true to their word, their word they agreed on, on July 13, agreeing on the text of this document. From others, we received some more official, i.e. written notification of different forms of intentions, and others have just expressed through the press things ranging from we won’t sign, which is probably just as well because there is nothing to sign, this is treaty, it is not a convention, it’s to be adopted, there is no signature. These terms have meanings in international law, so some have said they won’t sign, others say they don’t like it anymore, some have said they will not come to Marrakesh. But at the end of the day, it is a handful of countries which, in my opinion, quite surprisingly, had 18 months of opportunities to examine these issues with their public opinion. This was not a secret process, this was done not only with the participation of Member States, but also with what we call multi-stakeholders, so civil society, private sector, labour unions, academics, everybody who was there in New York in these negotiations. The text was modified, it was discussed. Frankly, I am not all that concerned about what it does to the Compact itself and the process. I am a little more worried about what it does to the credibility of those who, having agreed to something, and as I said having extracted concessions from their partners in the negotiations in that process, are now taking a different position. We live in a multilateral environment where on global issues such as this one, this is one of the global issues, along with climate change, technological revolution and so on, that involves everybody and in which every country has an interest, and where issues present very differently all over the world. So I think that preserving this credible trust in the global community working together on this issue is a common good that all Member States should strive to preserve.

Question: It was just on the issue of whether or not you might be meeting with Foreign Ministers?

Louise Arbour: Oh no, of course I did not know that he was here, but the Hungarian Foreign Minister himself attended some of the sessions of the negotiations, at least one that I remember, but possibly two. He actually did come to New York and he did voice some of the concerns I heard loud and clear, and in fact Hungary was there when the text was adopted, but immediately thereafter, reiterated its fundamental opposition to what it described as a pro-migration document, which I stress again that if one reads carefully and understands the common project, the Global Compact is not for migration, it’s not against migration, it does not purport to say that migration is a good thing, of is a bad thing. It is a thing; it has been with us forever. The rate of human mobility has risen in fact from 2.7 per cent in 2000 to 3.4 per cent of the world’s population today. If we stay within that range of say about 3 per cent of the world’s population that becomes an international migrant, the mere rise in the population projections suggest that there will be more and more people seeking to move. There is, in my opinion, no question that very poorly managed or not managed at all migration, is probably not a good thing, but well-managed, through the respect of domestic migration policies of all countries involved, has to be a much better thing than what we currently have.

Question: I think we are probably all migrants here in this room, so we have a different perspective. My question is what has gone wrong? Because truth be told, my own Government is supporting the pact, but if you wanted to win an election in Germany now, you could not win that if you supported the migration pact because the feeling is that this is more about the rights of people that want to come, than it is about managing it. So where did the information process go wrong? Are you saying that the Governments did a bad job in explaining what this is all about? Or are the people who are against it too stupid to understand how this might benefit them?

Louise Arbour: Now, you know what, in the Secretary-General’s report, which as I said was published in January this year, just before the zero draft of the actual text was tabled, the Secretary-General essentially was looking at the issues very broadly, and painting sort of the broad picture, not anywhere as detailed as the text of the Compact itself. And one of the issues that this report put on the table was the necessity to change the narrative, and this is reflected also in the Compact call for better data, for better public information strategies and so on, because there is lots of well-documented evidence in academic circles and so on about the profound disconnect between perception and reality, and it is extremely unwise to make public policy on the basis of perceptions that are not grounded in reality, I would suggest. But you see, time and again, opinion polls where people grossly, severely overestimate the number of migrants in their country. They overestimate the rate of criminality amongst migrants’ population. They overestimate the rate of unemployment of migrants. There is no question I think that there is a deficit of a reality check, not that there are no negative aspects, particularly of ill-managed migration, but the harvesting of its enormous benefits seem to have very little traction in public opinion.

Just to give you an example, the question of remittances, this is the money that migrants send back to their home country. There is one issue that has been well studied, in particular by the World Bank, this is that one. We don’t have all the information, but we have a lot of information. So on average, migrants spend 85 per cent of their income in their host community, and send home 15 per cent. That 15 per cent last year was $ 600 billion globally. The part that goes to developing countries, but some of course go, there are migrants who are north-north migrants and will still send money home, but the part of remittances that goes to the developing world amounts to three times the amount of official development assistance that richer countries send to developing countries, i.e. tax payers’ money that they send to assist the developing world. So it is three times more - what migrants send home. That 15 per cent remittances in some countries amounts to more than 20 per cent of their GDP. It’s a huge factor of development. This is one of the many, many economic indicators that show that properly managed migration that is importing for the countries that need it, a labour force, at all skills levels, is good for the country of the host, for the economy of the host country, which otherwise would have labour shortages. It is good for the migrants, who would be unemployed at home and now have an employment. It has immense development benefits, so this kind of discourse is completely absent on many of the pushback that have taken root in public opinion. I don’t want to be dismissive of that, I think it is frankly not particularly useful to dismiss all criticism as rooted in xenophobia or racism, I am sure there is part of that. But I think there are some very genuine questions that people have about where this will lead them, whether it’s in their interest?

There is also an immense confusion every single day on that issue about the distinction between refugees and migrants. It is very different, and there is you know a Global Compact for Refugees that was also mandated by the General Assembly. I’m not going to give you a lecture on refugee law, but you know as well as I do that these are completely different legal frameworks. There is none essentially or very little, with respect to migrants, but there is a very strict legal regime which does carry binding legal obligations to offer international protection for refugees. So I cannot go very far in trying to understand why these pockets of resistance are so entrenched in some environments, but I think the New York process was very informative and brought people I think a long way. The diplomats who negotiated were not all migration experts but after the six months of negotiations, I am not surprised that there was an agreement on the text. I wish we could have had the whole world at the table, but obviously that was not an option.

Question: First I would like to commend you for doing two days of news conferences in a row, which is not always easy I imagine. I would like to pick up on the theme that my colleagues have both brought up and just get your … to take a step back on this issue for a moment, if you don’t mind. How much are you concerned that you, the United Nations, Member States, diplomats, have been very engaged in this process, and yet have been blindsided by the politics of it. In other words, did you see this coming? Did you see that countries might be moving toward … and was there something that you or other diplomats could have done better to stem this, you know, what is the word, defection I guess in a way, or resistance, ahead of time, before we get to this point what a number of countries have pulled out? The second thing is, and this is something, maybe a thumb sucking kind of question, but it is one that bears mentioning about not just this project, but also with the United Nations generally, and diplomatic circles generally. How much are you concerned that there is a disconnect between, you mention things like Member State driven process and data driven and people don’t understand and what have you, but there is a large percentage of the public out there that is exactly what you are saying, does not follow those things. So I am wondering, what can be done to bridge that, to get over that hump, to make sure that you are communicating with people that actually have these misconceptions and these bizarre sort of attitudes or misconceptions about information. And just finally on that same thing, it seems to me that the remedy for this would be to bring in politicians who are tied in directly, not diplomats, not bureaucrats, but politicians who like the Hungarian Foreign Minister that you mentioned who was present, and then his country has been pulled away. Which politicians could you mobilize that may be relevant in Marrakesh, who could come. I know that you don’t want to talk about people who’ve come, yesterday I saw at the press conference that you didn’t want to talk about, you don’t have the list yet ready. But who are, give us a little tip, who are you actively courting among big name politicians, to come to Marrakesh, to be able to stamp their imprimatur and say there are politicians who are tuned in to public opinion and they too are going to be present in Marrakesh. So I am sorry, that was long-winded, but I hope you can elaborate on some of this. Thank you.

Louise Arbour: It’s a lot of questions and I really wish I could blow you away with a really clever answer. You know, just the framing of your question makes clear how difficult it is to deal in this reality. Let me just take a couple of steps, a lot of it is timing. Migration has never been, not only has never been a popular issue in the UN system, actually a lot of people would say it was historically a taboo. You could talk about international trade, you could talk about a lot of things, you could not talk about people crossing borders. This was a bastion of State sovereignty. And it started to loosen up a little bit actually under Kofi Annan, who appointed Peter Sutherland, but to show the extent of the allergy that UN Member States had, as UN Member States to this issue, they created the GFMD, the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which has now been in place for 10 years. It comprises virtually every Member State of the United Nations, but it’s not in the UN. They felt more comfortable talking about it in maybe in a softer environment, best practices and so on. So, we know, we’ve known from the beginning that this is a difficult issue. It’s like many other issues, when it’s linked to national identity, a lot of amorphous intangible issues, it’s not amenable exclusively to a rational discourse such as a discourse about economics. It can take you a certain way, and at the end of the day, people will still do things that are demonstrably not in their best economic interest, for more intangible, ill-articulated fears or intuition that this is not a good thing, that we’re better off amongst ourselves kind of thing, which is very difficult to counteract.

So I think this is a reality. We knew that, as I said, we said at the outset we need to change the narrative. How did this start? Well it started with the crisis in Europe. I mean, the GFMD was happily conducting its business, meeting, Member States were comfortable with that kind of process. Peter Sutherland had done very good work, wrote a couple of really good reports on migration. It was a certain level of comfort. But then, with the crisis in Europe, it’s actually Europe that said this is not working anymore. Our own people are losing confidence that we are controlling our borders appropriately, they turned to the UN, and so 2016, the New York Declaration was Head of State, high-level Declaration in New York calling for this exercise. And again, it has to be very clear, as a UN process, it went very well. It went according to plan, a very good document in my opinion. Now history will be the judge of that. When people look at this text five, ten, twenty years from now, I am sure many of them will say well as least we got on the right track. Whether we manage to build the kind of enthusiasm that you’d want to see it implemented, I agree with you we are not quite there yet, at least in some quarters. I hope that those who express reservations first would express with a little more clarity what is it exactly that they think should be fixed, saying in all, we have feelings that this is not good, this is not particularly helpful. And I think in due course, we will see a movement where some parts of the Compact will be implemented, even by those who today are rejecting it as a common enterprise altogether, because, it first of all, demonstrably in their self-interest, and because you are already doing a lot of things that they don’t want to say publicly they’re doing. I’ll give you one example where even amongst diplomats, the question of regularization of irregular migrant. So when we started the conversations in New York, and we came to the very difficult question of irregular migrant, sometimes called illegal migration, illegal migrants which is a term particularly objectionable. So when we came to the situation of people who either enter a country through illegal channels, or enter legally and then overstay the terms of their visa, which is I think a large portion of those who are now irregular migrants. The knee jerk response is return is the only option, they don’t have the right to be there, they have to go home, has considerable superficial appeal until you start looking at the detailed circumstances of these people. For instance, some who’ve been there, apart from the defect in their migratory status, have been perfectly law-abiding for 25 years, have children who are now nationals, have an employer who wants to keep them. When you take them individual cases and you say, so return you think is the only option, how about regularisation, correcting the migratory defect. Oh no, that’s never a good idea. Well in the course of more rational conversations, first, it became very clear that mainly Member States who take formally that position actually do exactly the opposite. They do regularise. Sometimes, through very public, broad amnesties, other times, just by case-by-case, either for humanitarian grounds, for all kinds of issues, a work permit, regularized situation, which actually makes perfect sense. So again you said disconnect between the public discourse and the economic, social, cultural reality of what a sound policy has to respond to.

Question: I think my question was a little bit too long-winded. I would like to follow-up. You did not answer my question. Can I get my question answered? My question was, I had three, my questions were should you have seen this coming? And I guess you sort of answered that one. But also, who politically, which politicians are you courting to come to Marrakesh to give a voice to this?

Louise Arbour: The Secretary-General issued an invitation, as per the process, to all Heads of State and Heads of Government. This is the level at which this Conference is called. And then, States decide what level of delegation they will send. I’m not courting anybody. Member States understand, some will come, some have … this pressure, actually mostly in the western world, this kind of état d’âme about this, is not duplicated in many parts. Even for Latin America that is facing, for instance, with Venezuela, very challenging circumstances. African international migrants overwhelmingly stay on the continent. So countries like South Africa are huge countries of destination. They have a lot of the inclusion problems, xenophobic attitudes in parts of their community that Europe has. So, this is a global exercise and there’s no courting of anybody. The whole world is invited and overwhelmingly will be present, true to its word on the agreed text. And, frankly, I think with considerable enthusiasm, on some particular parts of it that are interest to them in launching innovations, partnership implementation, and we’ll see some of that in Europe actually.

Question: I have two questions, the first one is; we all know there are reasons migration tensions and friction might get worse in the future for demographic reasons etc., but are there any ways that you see that countries with these tensions can lessen them through regulations, or building more houses, or I don’t know, technological solutions, or changing the tax credit or whatever to make people more accepting of migrants? And the second question is: in countries where there is such tension, do you think people are as xenophobic as the politicians seem to think they are? Or is it just the politicians?

Louise Arbour: On this last question, honestly, I have no idea. I can’t make a procès d’intention What we seem to see though, again from public opinion polls and so on, is that the people who are the most resistant to the idea of welcoming foreigners are the ones who have been the least exposed to them. So for instance, sometimes in rural communities, where there is a mythology about foreigners. They don’t even like tourists sometimes, but at least they see some benefits there. But in communities that have a lot of interaction with foreigners, with migrants, particularly if it is supported by very good domestic inclusion policies, I don’t believe that there is this inherent xenophobic attitude on people. I think national policies and domestic policies go a long way in either fostering that culture of rejection of foreigners or, quite the contrary, making their presence very acceptable. There are lots of examples in the literature. One of the things that, certainly in the Secretary-General’s report and in the compact itself, we put forward as a proposal for the types of good practices which, of course, Member States are not forced to put in place is, for instance, first of all the recognition that many migrants, when they come into a country come in the poorest neighbourhoods. So, apart from their migratory status, they are indistinguishable from the people who host them. I mean, they are equally deprived. So, their children will be inserted in schools that already are suffering from overcrowding. So, any benefit that is directed at migrants as part of their integration should be shared with the host community. As a way, I think, of first of all, not exacerbating the perception that migrants get all the benefits and abuse the welfare system. But also, of demonstrating an immediate benefit that the insertion of, particularly a large number of immigrants, certainly it is the case also for refugees - but I’m talking here just about migration policies. So, being attentive to the insertion of migrants to public policies that will deliver tangible and immediate benefits to the people who host them, I think would go some distance in fostering a more inclusive atmosphere.

And then, the question of the current demographic projections. Well first of all, the demographic projections are eminently reliable because to change demographic projection … The only factor that will change demographic projection in a country is migration. Fertility rates and mortality rates are eminently predictable over the long term. They take a very long time to change through some kind of political or social engineering. So, the only thing that will change what a country will look like in terms of its demographic in the next 10, 20 years is migration. The rest of it is eminently predictable. So, in countries where, I think leaders have this data, they know they will have shortages, for instance in their workforce, in their working-age population. And we know that some regions will have a huge increase in their working-age population in the next 30, 40 years. This could be an immense, the call it, demographic dividend. More working-age people is very good for your economy if other things are also put in place. It can also be very bad if you’re economically depressed and you have unemployed large numbers of working-age, we used to say men but, men and women who need to be active. We know these factors so one of the things, again that the compact deals with, is the idea of skills development, skills exchanges. So if, just hypothetically, countries in Europe would anticipate a serious labour shortage in their agricultural sector, or their tech sector, or their healthcare sector in the next 5, 10, 15 years, it would make sense to start developing now partnerships with developing countries, as part of their development effort that will get people there to develop these skills, not others. So, we don’t have a mismatch or no matching at all in the international labour market. These kinds of initiatives are exactly what we expect to have to start putting in place right now so that this bulge in the world’s population and its very uneven distribution does not exacerbate the conflict. And, quite the opposite, is then mobilized in everybody’s interest. That’s, in large part, what I think the compact is starting to launch as an initiative.

Question: Vous parliez d’un processus qui n’était pas secret. C’est vrai qu’ici, en Suisse, le sentiment qui semble dominer au Parlement maintenant, c’est de dire que justement l’Ambassadeur de Suisse qui a cofacilité le processus - Jürg Lauber – a en fait trahi la Suisse en négociant ce traité. Quel est le jugement, votre sentiment par rapport à l’ouverture avec laquelle ce processus s’est déroulé ? Et êtes-vous très déçue par le fait que la Suisse, qui a cofacilité ce processus, n’aille pas à Marrakech ?

Louise Arbour: Ce genre de discours démontre encore une fois à quel point les processus internationaux sont mal compris. J’espère que c’est de l’ignorance, pas de la mauvaise foi. C’est pas tellement compliqué, mais il faut savoir comment cela fonctionne. Premièrement, quand une assemblée des Etats Membres des Nations Unies décide de se doter d’un processus sous la présidence du Président – aujourd’hui de la Présidente – de l’Assemblée générale, généralement, la présidence de l’Assemblée générale nomme des cofacilitateurs, parce qu’elle ne peut pas tout présider et tout gérer. Les cofacilitateurs sont nommés en leur qualité personnelle et à peu près tous les processus de l’Assemblée générale font l’objet de la cofacilitation : il faut quelqu’un pour présider les discussions et faciliter. Les cofacilitateurs sont neutres ; par définition, ils sont là pour essayer d’alimenter une atmosphère qui va générer un consensus. Le Pacte sur les migrations a été cofacilité par l’Ambassadeur Jürg Lauber de Suisse et l’Ambassadeur Juan José Gomez Camacho du Mexique – pas par la Suisse et le Mexique : d’ailleurs, la Suisse et le Mexique avaient des délégations et se présentaient aux négociations comme Etats, de façon complètement distincte de la personne qui s’adonnait à être l’un de leurs Ambassadeurs qui cofacilitait les procédures. Alors cela n’a rien à voir avec la soi-disant…l’implication de la Suisse et d’ailleurs le cofacilitateur était exactement cela [un cofacilitateur]. C’est sûr qu’ils étaient là pour promouvoir d’abord la recherche d’un consensus et le texte qu’ils avaient préparé ; mais bien sûr, ils étaient là, [comme] ils le disaient à chaque occasion [parce qu’]: «on cherche à entendre où se dessine le consensus et on va le refléter dans la prochaine version» - ce qu’ils ont fait pendant tout le processus. Que les Etats qui ont négocié en leur capacité nationale, et très souvent à l’intérieur de groupes, se dissocient aujourd’hui des positions qu’ils ont prises, je trouve ça très décevant et je pense que ça porte atteinte à leur crédibilité comme partenaire dans un environnement multinational. Alors, est-ce que ces délégations, est-ce que leurs ministères des affaires étrangères… Vous savez - c’est une autre chose qu’il faut dire – que même dans les Etats nationaux, la migration, c’est souvent fractionné. Il y a des Etats comme le Canada qui ont un Ministère de l’immigration ; mais dans beaucoup d’États, c’est géré par le Ministère de l’intérieur, dans d’autres cas par le Ministère du travail et des fois par le Ministère des affaires étrangères. Mais on sentait qu’il n’y avait pas beaucoup de cohésion, souvent, à l’intérieur de certains Etats. Et ça peut avoir contribué aussi à la difficulté de faire passer le message au niveau national. Je ne peux pas encore là faire le procès de ce qui s’est passé dans tous les pays, mais c’est assez évident que, je pense, de bonne foi les pays ont négocié un texte qui maintenant semble leur poser des difficultés à l’interne.

Geneva, 28 November 2018