Felipe Cuello: Running from Responsibility – the Marrakech Migratory Pact

Guest post by Felipe Cuello, Sultan Advisors

The Dominican Government has joined the group of nine countries – until now all belonging to the “Western Europe and Others” group– in rejecting the much-discussed UN migration compact (due to be signed in little over a week in Morocco).

Though it is clear that more countries share the opinion of this group, it is also clear that a large group of countries – the vast majority – remains attached to the process.


Because of the tone of the recent discussion – since the United States announced we wouldn’t sign – one might be forgiven for thinking the document bears importance.

This is not the case: It has not yet been decided even which specific reforms will come out of the process.

Politicians from the left and the right agree that the present system of international migration is poorly adjusted to reality and is failing.

The international migratory and refugee protection regime – established in a context of immediate post-world war – clearly does not apply well to the present.

Internationally, the same political dilemma can be found in borders as varied as those of Australia, Myanmar, the South America, the European Union, and dozens of African countries whose borders are even more porous than those mentioned (and even ours).

The various political tribes come to that same conclusion from very different starting points, though their proposed solutions are also quite different.

Some want to build a wall that Mexicans pay for; others believe that Washington should take more responsibility for the shortage of our neighbors.

What may be truly irresponsible is to be absent from an international debate whose theme is migration.

The United States has a unique experience to contribute to this discussion.
Without our presence, the debate will be poorer.

In fact, the same can be said of the rest of the group that will boycott the conference.

Would a migratory treaty created in the Trump era really lack his imprint entirely?

Being the first country of the Latin American and Caribbean group to join the sovereigntist resistance, Santo Domingo has an advantageous position in the group it finds itself aligning with.

Many Caribbean and Latin American neighbors have shared complaints about the issue for decades, and new crises, such as that in Venezuela, bring real urgency to the need to reform the international migration system.

The simultaneous presence of Santo Domingo – together with Brussels, Lima, Warsaw and Washington – in the Security Council during 2019 guarantees that they will have to establish positions on the subject in a forum of the highest level anyway.

Peru, a country that has reinforced entry requirements for Venezuelans, will also accompany the US in the Security Council until the end of 2019.

The ruling coalition of Belgium – another country present in the Council – is under threat of rupture for the very same issue.

With just over a week to go before the conference, it goes without saying that the decision to miss the 2018 conference is final.

However, it would be worthwhile to draw up a longer-term strategy on the subject.

Meeting with that group of nine, and with any other country that has strong positions on the subject, should be a priority for the White House.

Arriving at the next meeting with a common position should be our goal, promulgated by the Trump Administration.

There are already enough countries to influence the outcome of that diplomatic process, and a government that prioritizes the national interest – like the one currently in power – should be able to convene like-minded countries for an issue where our interests coincide.

Migration issues are not going away anytime soon.

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