“Migration as a Global Challenge:” Yale Conference

By Clare Morneau 


[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Wednesday, November 14, the Yale Jackson Institute hosted several Ambassadors to the United Nations on campus to discuss the many challenges of migration. This particular talk featured Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh, Ambassador Omar Hilale, the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco, Ambassador Michal Mylnár, the Permanent Representative of Slovakia, and Ambassador Archbishop Bernardito C. Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN.

The talk began by introducing the audience to several key facts about the current migration crisis, stating, for example, that the number of international migrants has continued to grow in the past few years, reaching a total of 258 million in 2017. Through a series of statements from each ambassador, the audience learned about the Global Compact for Migration (GCM), which will be adopted at a conference on international migration in Morocco this coming December. As Hilale, Morocco’s representative, detailed, the Compact came into being because “the world needed a global and comprehensive approach for migration.” This document, comprised of 23 objectives on migration, will act as a guideline for all signatory countries, ensuring that their treatment of migrants is safe and just, while also working to make migration more regular and orderly. It also maintains a focus on the benefits of migration, and how it can work to improve economic development in countries that are receiving migrants, granted that those migrants are integrated properly.

The ambassadors all emphasized how the Compact will not endanger countries’ sovereignty, but will actually work to do the opposite. As Ambassador Mlynár of Slovakia stated, migrants can cause security risks and make governance tricky. The GCM strives to ease the chaotic nature of current global migration by providing frameworks to prevent migrant trafficking as well as opportunities for migrants in their new country.

A particularly interesting component of this conference was learning about how many of these ambassadors, as well as leaders in other nations, are working to balance the interests of their citizens at home with their commitments in global politics. Perhaps most compelling was Ambassador Momen, from Bangladesh, as he addressed the difficulty that his country faces in its current efforts to shelter Rohingya refugees. The Bangladesh government has stated that “the safe and dignified return of Rohingyas to their homeland is our priority,” but also mentioned the intense need to convince Myanmar to do more, particularly in terms of improving the ground situation and creating an accountability system so that refugees are incentivized to go back.

This type of issue raises questions about the applicability of the Global Compact for Migration and the chance of its success. Bangladesh’s overwhelming population of Rohingya refugees demonstrates the uneven spread of migration, and the difficulties it can place on particular countries, while leaving others untouched. With migration being heralded as a global challenge, how can the international community work to ensure that responsibility is allocated equally between all signatory communities? Is an equal allocation of responsibility even possible with the vastly different conflict situations across the globe?

Despite these glaring questions, the conference focused on many hopeful points, and it was evident that all of the Ambassadors had similar positive opinions regarding the Global Compact and the way forward with migration. The GCM is being regarded as just the beginning of dealing with this challenge, as countries like Bangladesh are hoping to see even more rigorous declarations and regulations on migration. As Ambassador Archbishop Bernardito C. Auza put it, “the global phenomenon of migration requires a global response.” This Global Compact for Migration is being portrayed as the future of international cooperation on this global challenge.


Clare is a sophomore in Morse College. You can contact her at clare.morneau@yale.edu