What will the UN migration pact change?

The UN migration pact has been passed in Marrakesh with the votes of roughly 150 countries. The vote was preceded by intense debate in many places, and Belgium's government collapsed as a result. The document establishes international rules on how migration is to be dealt with, but is not legally binding. Even now that it has been signed the pact remains controversial among Europe's commentators.

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Not binding but convincing

Even if the treaty is not legally binding it can have an enormous impact, the taz stresses:

“The words 'we undertake to' signify a political obligation. And every four years the states will meet to check what progress has been made on this front. ... Unfortunately the goals of the text are not met in many areas: migrants must not be exploited, they must have access to the justice system, the qualifications from their country of origin must be recognised and they must be able to send money home safely. And so on. ... To this day the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also remains a non-binding UN resolution. It simply convinced people of its merits. And it's to be hoped that the same will apply for the migration pact.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Just a symbolic gesture

The migration pact has little to do with content and a lot to do with empty symbolism, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung criticises:

“In her speech Angela Merkel said that after World War II the establishment of the United Nations and the desire to achieve joint solutions was the answer to pure nationalism. And for that reason, she continued, the challenges to the pact are challenges to nothing less than international cooperation. Hence the pact is to serve as a symbol in the fight against nationalism and for international cooperation. The impact it will have in practice is not what really counts. But such multinational symbolic policies won't solve any problems. That's clear to a lot of people - and not just to nationalists and populists.”

Magyar Hírlap (HU) /

Orbán was honest from the start

The pro-government daily Magyar Hírlap praises Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's clear rejection of the UN migration pact:

“It is far more honourable to announce that we firmly reject something than to first approve it only to point out that in certain cases one will review whether to adhere to it - as Russia did and many of the signatory states would have liked to do. So we are witnesses to the birth of an agreement that will be enforced with a bludgeon and that in the long term serves neither the interests of the countries of destination nor those of the people in the countries of origin. All it does is preserve the power of the elites and postpone a proper confrontation with the problems.”

Novi list (HR) /

The populists haven't won

Novi list is delighted that the migration pact has been ratified despite all the resistance:

“The majority of EU member states didn't succumb to the manipulative tactics and on the global level the number of countries that rejected the migration pact is truly small. Contrary to a number of populist governments, Trump's America and Australia, whose rigid refugee policy has caused outrage among human rights organisations for years, the world doesn't see anything controversial about the migration pact, the first global step toward the solution of a global problem. As strange as it may seem that has been no global document that deals with migration up to now. This is why the migration pact is so important.”