Brazil has left the UN Global Migration Compact

19 February 2019 22:03

March of Immigrants of 2012 in Brazil. Poster reads: “United immigrants will never be defeated!”

One of the first measures of the incoming President Jair Bolsonaro did when he took power, was pull out from the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), which was adopted by 164 countries on 10 December 2018 in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The GCM is the first UN global agreement that presents guidelines for international cooperation to international migration and “sets out our common understanding, shared responsibilities and unity of purpose regarding migration." The GCM is anchored in the fundamental principles and norms of the United Nations: its Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international treaties and covenants, and the International Labour Organization Conventions on promoting decent work and labour migration. (Preamble, para2). It also reaffirms the New York Declaration of 2016, and rests on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is important to emphasize that the document is non-binding, so it does not present obligations to the states that adopted it and recognizes the sovereignty of each state to deal with the issue.

On 9 January 2019, the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs communicated to the United Nations of its exit to the Compact. The decision was not a surprise since the current Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, when Brazil signed the pact, by Twitter, had classified the pact as "an inadequate instrument to deal with the problem" and also stated that "the issue should not be treated as a global issue, but rather in accordance with the reality and sovereignty of each country.” In addition, there was already the expectation that in this government there would be a greater alignment of Brazilian foreign policy of the United States, which opposed to the Pact.

It is important to emphasize that Brazil is not a country that has large percentage of migrants. On the contrary, in spite of two recent flows of migration from Haiti and most recently Venezuela, there are now more Brazilians abroad than immigrants in Brazil. According to the Federal Police, there are 750,000 foreigners in Brazil, which represents 0.4% of the population, while 3 million Brazilians live outside the country.

According to an article published in Jornal do Comércio, Gelson Santana, President of the Union of Workers in the Civil Construction Industries of Porto Alegre, and member of the BWI Working Group on Migration, "The position of the Brazilian government is a dangerous setback in ensuring the rights of migrants in Brazil.”