Global Compact for Migration Consistent with Canadian Values

On Dec. 10 and 11, Marrakech, Morocco was host to the Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Migration, where the majority of United Nations Member States adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The Compact outlines a set of 23 objectives to promote international cooperation on global migration.

Two key pieces to note are that the compact is a non-legally binding political commitment and further, it has no impact on the sovereignty of States.

As indicated within its text:

“This Global Compact presents a non-legally binding, cooperative framework that builds on the commitments agreed upon by Member States in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. It fosters international cooperation among all relevant actors on migration, acknowledging that no State can address migration alone, and upholds the sovereignty of States and their obligations under international law.” (Source)

Yet, despite these clearly outlined facts, those who reject Canada’s participation in the adoption of the Compact continue to press against this effort of collaboration. As a result, this historic achievement has received responses that further anti-immigrant and specifically, anti-refugee rhetoric. This dialogue indicates that it is continually imperative that we actively pay attention to how solutions are framed when discussing these issues. Language matters.

(Note: there is a separate Global Compact on Refugees)

While we can continue to call on the government to do more for refugees and all migrants by developing more equitable policies, Canada has long been an international champion of immigration. Canadians are recognized internationally for the governing philosophy that newcomers enrich the fabric of our nation. Thus, contributing to the overall sustainability of the country in a variety of ways such as, multiculturalism, civic engagement, and economic growth.

These compacts represent opportunities for Canada to share best practices, learn from the experiences of others, and highlight areas where we can provide support. At their core, they simply reflect our on-going pledge to stand up for human rights. To suggest that Canada should steer away from its well-developed international reputation and dismiss such multilateral frameworks, is reckless and irresponsible.

With global migration continuing to rise, it is essential that we recognize where Canada plays a role. These areas of interest range from economic immigration to refugee resettlement, as indicated through an analysis of the newest Immigration Levels Plan.

However, using migration to address our own labour shortages and to support those in need of assistance is not enough. Canada must accept responsibility when its policies and actions directly contribute to the phenomenon of increased global migration. Similarly, addressing root causes such as climate change, war and conflict, or gender-based violence – to name a few – through domestic and foreign policy, is also critical.

At the end of the day, if we are to uphold the basic belief that all humans have rights, then Canada must always remain #ForMigration.


  • Serisha is a former Public Justice Intern at CPJ and the current Executive Director of Leading in Colour, she also sits on the Board of The Solidarity Library. She is a graduate of McGill University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in World Religions. As the child of refugees, Serisha has been a lifelong activist. She has been actively involved in refugee rights advocacy since her selection as a 2017-18 UofMosaic Fellow with The Mosaic Institute and furthered this interest while serving as an executive on several student-led advocacy groups.

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