On 19 December, the UN General Assembly adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. A total of 154 countries, including Estonia, supported the compact. 5 UN Member States voted against. Estonia was represented at the UN General Assembly by Estonian Ambassador to the UN Sven Jürgenson, who read out Estonia’s position based on the Statement passed by the Parliament of Estonia. Ambassador Jürgenson also reaffirmed Estonia’s position that the compact does not seek to establish international customary law.
The Global Compact for Migration is a declaration that has been jointly negotiated by the UN Member States. On the one hand, it focuses on regular migration, like migration for employment or education purposes, that concerns also many Estonians studying or working abroad. On the other hand, the compact also provides an opportunity to improve international cooperation on migration, including by preventing irregular migration and combating trafficking in and smuggling of persons.
It is important for Estonia that countries have a common understanding of migration, since irregular migration, and the accompanying human trafficking, are the fastest growing international challenges and no country is able to solve these problems alone. The UN’s principles on migration also represent the values important for Estonia – for example human rights, freedom of expression, and equality before the law – that are also included in Estonia’s constitution. The compact is not about “opening the door wide to migration” and does not establish migration as a human right.
The decision to develop the global compact for migration was made through the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016.
The Government of the Republic of Estonia adopted its positions on the UN Global Compact for Migration on 22 March 2018. The Parliament of Estonia, the Riigikogu, passed a statement in support of the compact on 26 November 2018. In the Statement, the Riigikogu emphasises the fundamental principle highlighted in the Global Compact for Migration that all states have a right to shape their national migration policy in conformity with international law. The Chancellor of Justice of Estonia, Ülle Madise, assured in her assessment that the compact is not legally binding and will not create new binding obligations.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
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