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Swiss government gives green light for UN migration accord

A controversial United Nations Global Compact for Migration has won the approval of the Swiss government, which has nevertheless asked for further clarification of the political scope of the guidelines.

The accord, to be formally adopted by heads of state and government in December at an international conference in Morocco, is aimed at setting common benchmarks for orderly migration practices, thereby reducing irregular flows.

The Global Compact for Migration contains ten guiding principles, 23 objectives and a list of possible voluntary actions for implementing each objective. It is not legally binding but has a political impact.

In cases of pending deportations of minors, Switzerland’s laws are not in line with the recommendations, according to the government.

However, it also said in a statement on Wednesday that “since every state is free to decide which actions it wishes to use to achieve the objectives, the identified deviation does not pose an obstacle to approving the Global Compact for Migration”.

In various other areas Switzerland is already implementing the recommendations.

“The guiding principles and objectives correspond fully with Switzerland’s policy on migration, for example concerning more assistance on the ground, combatting human trafficking and human smuggling, secure borders, respect for human rights, returns and reintegration as well as lasting integration,” the statement said.

The foreign affairs ministry has been mandated to consult with parliamentary committees before the signing of the document at the planned conference in Morocco.


The rightwing Swiss People’s Party raised opposition last month arguing that the multilateral agreement would undermine Switzerland’s immigration policy. It called on the government to follow the example of the United States and Hungary, both of which have rejected the accord.

But in an interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper last month, Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis pledged to ensure that the pact does not have a negative impact on Switzerland.

Switzerland and Mexico provided diplomatic support to help negotiate the agreement over 18 months before the UN General Assembly agreed on the final version earlier this year.

“I don’t think you can say it’s a new turning point, but it fills a gap. Migration clearly is one of those issues that needs to be addressed on a global multilateral level and hadn’t been done so comprehensively in the past,” Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN in New York and co-facilitator of the Global Compact, told an audience at the Geneva Graduate Institute on Monday.

swissinfo.ch; ug/sb