General Assembly General Assembly

Statement by

Ambassador Tanmaya Lal,
Deputy Permanent Representative

5th Round
Inter-Governmental Negotiations 

Global Compact
Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

4 June 2018


We are now moving close to the concluding sessions of this process of intergovernmental negotiations.

We thank you for your significant personal engagement to guide this process and try and capture the essence of our discussions in a draft text that will form the outcome of this process. 

We have carefully examined the draft Rev2 of the text that you have shared with all of us some days back. We welcome the inclusion of Objective 23 to reflect the spirit of Global Partnership that we have argued for on earlier occasions. 

The revised draft, however, contains a series of other amendments, some of which are of serious concern to our delegation. 

Our delegation had made a comprehensive statement at the commencement of the previous round of the negotiations a few weeks back to explain our point of view.
We had highlighted that migration is not a new phenomenon, nor is it a negative phenomenon. We had reminded that waves of human migration have built most of the societies and modern nation states. We had drawn attention to the fact that migration of workers, nurses, doctors, engineers, students, teachers, researchers, scientists and others forms an integral aspect of today’s global economy and business models.
Human mobility is part of the wider framework of mobility of capital, goods, services and investment that benefits positively the economies of both - countries of destination as well as origin. 

However, the current debate on migration is taking place against the backdrop of a distressing crisis of refugees fleeing armed conflicts with completely different set of causes. In many situations this is being resented by sections of host communities. 
The debate is also taking place against the backdrop of a wave of politicized nationalist narratives in certain developed countries where global economy and technological change is impacting some sections of workforce adversely, who have not been able to adapt to the changed contexts.

This has led to the current debate on migration being viewed from a negatively coloured lens. It is not relying on a rational discourse; and this can only be to the detriment of economies and societies across the world.   

In our statement at the previous session, we had also stressed that since an overwhelming number of international migrants are regular, it should be our primary objective in this exercise to focus on strengthening the positive aspects of migration as inter-linked to economies and societies of destination and origin countries.

We had cautioned against our discussion being drowned in a negative narrative and had strongly urged that we at the United Nations had the responsibility to correct this narrative.  


We have gone into some detail to reiterate the broad contours of our previous statement, as we find that the draft Rev2 continues to appear to reflect a largely negative impression about migration. 

We are especially disappointed to see several new references that blur the distinctions between migrants and refugees in this revised text, an issue that had been settled earlier.
The revised draft text also continues to put upfront a disproportionate focus on situation relating to irregular and illegal migrants, pushing the emphasis on addressing the concerns of regular migrants to the very back.

Both these can only hurt the interests of the regular legal migrants that form most of the total international migrants. 

Blurring of the differences between refugees and migrants will only further fuel a negative narrative that feeds irrational fears about legal migrants who form an integral part of global economies.
Highlighting the concerns about irregular migrants and seeking to erase any distinctions between legal and illegal migrants, again will only further incentivize the activities of criminal networks and fuel the antipathy against all migrants. 

We believe this cannot be in the interest of anyone seeking to promote safe, orderly and regular migration. 

We strongly believe that the new insertion of reference to the concept of ‘non-refoulement’ in two different sections, as also to asylum seekers, is totally inappropriate to the discussion on migrants. Non refoulement is a legal concept applicable in situations where a return of a person, a refugee, to the country of origin is strongly likely to lead to his or her serious persecution, including threat to life.

We want to state clearly that our delegation will not be in a position to go along with this attempt to blur the distinction between refugees and migrants. There is an entirely distinct legal framework that covers the various aspects related to refugees, fleeing armed conflicts and seeking shelter in foreign lands.

There are other specific text amendments in the same direction, which our delegation will address in more detail during further deliberations on different sections.   


There are new and other references that seek to erase any distinction between legal regular migrants and the far fewer irregular illegal migrants. These relate to procedures governing their entry and stay. 

We would reiterate that while a humane treatment of irregular or undocumented migrants at all times is absolutely essential, it is also important to not let the focus on regular migrants or their contributions be diluted in the Global Compact. 

Doing otherwise will be counterproductive to our primary objective of promoting safe, orderly and regular migration; it would dilute the focus on providing safe pathways for migration. 

Our delegation will take up these specific references during further deliberations. 


With regard to the references to climate change in the draft text, we stress that any forced displacement due to any sudden disasters cannot be covered under the debate on migration. Also, we wish to highlight the primary importance of evidence and data in any such discussion as a first step. 


In the context of our deliberations, we would also like to draw attention to another recent report, this time the flagship UNCTAD report on Economic Development in Africa released last week. 

This Report also seeks to bring back the narrative to the positive aspects of migration stressing that migration benefits both origin and destination countries across Africa. 

There are a series of other respected international studies that attest to the overwhelmingly positive aspect of international migration and the need for the international community to be able to manage it effectively to assist the achievement of SDGs. These reports argue against harmful and ill-advised narratives. 

Migration is a global phenomenon that needs to be managed by establishing collaborative frameworks of its governance.


The Global Compact on Migration must make the wider international community more aware of the extensive positive and mutually beneficial aspects of migration to economies and countries of destination and origin. 

The Compact must counter the negative narrative increasingly associated with immigrants in general often with narrow political motives. 

The Compact must work towards improving such collaborative frameworks to facilitate regular, safe and orderly migration by addressing the series of genuine concerns faced by legal migrants pertaining to their recruitment, decent work and dignified stay conditions, help family concerns, eliminate discriminations, make remittances easier and less costly, assist working out equivalence of qualifications and ensure portability of social security benefits, among others. 

The Compact should also facilitate stepping up of international cooperation to counter illegal migration based on criminal networks engaged in human trafficking.   

To do the above, the Compact must not blur the distinction between refugees and migrants. It must also clearly distinguish between legal regular and illegal irregular migrants. 


In conclusion, we would like to re-emphasize that migration is a longstanding and positive phenomenon across the globe. 
Today’s knowledge and innovation-driven economies require mobility of persons just as the modern economy is built upon movement of capital, goods and services across borders. Our Global Compact must reflect and reinforce this reality.
We look forward to working with you and all partners to finalise a positive and constructive Global Compact on Migration. 

Thank you.