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Will Brazil seize the chance to lead the debate on migration?

Many UN Member States have adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration at an Intergovernmental Conference. Brazil could have a leading role in its implementation. Español

Gustavo Macedo
19 December 2018
Refugiados_sírios_no_Rio_de_Janeiro.jpg

Refugiados sírios en Rio de Janeiro. Wikimedia Commons.

The Global Compact for Migration should foster a common understanding on the main causes that force people to leave their countries of origin, and how to mitigate them.

The document also provides protection and guarantees for the rights of those who migrate, as well as the need to update current international law for migrants and refugees.

The Global Compact for Migration is fundamental in reviewing outdated international law that no longer addresses migratory phenomena in all its dimensions today.

With the constant transformation of armed conflicts and the acceleration of climate change, hundreds of thousands of lives depend on the adoption of the document.

Today, one in four migrants do not migrate because they want to, but because they need to escape from widespread violence, civil war, famine, or other forms of social breakdown.

We have been experiencing the largest migratory emergency since the creation of the UN. Today, one in four migrants do not migrate because they want to, but because they need to escape from widespread violence, civil war, famine, or other forms of social breakdown.

It is perhaps surprising to know that 85% of the world's refugees are cared for by developing countries where resources are often scarce. 

When we see the dimensions of the interests of richer countries in the respective conflicts as well as the impact of their economies on climate change, it is easy to see that the current distribution of responsibilities is unfair.

However, this period of exacerbated nationalism keeps expectations low on the results of the conference, and the number of countries that have dropped out of the Global Compact have grown in recent days.

In spite of everything, Brazil can become a leader in this matter. Brazil is one of the greatest stakeholders in the success of the Compact. For each foreigner entering Brazil, two Brazilians leave.

With the current Brazilian immigration law passed in 2017, it is only fair that Brazilians receive the same treatment abroad that it offers to foreigners in Brazil.

These are the conclusions of the recent study "Brazil and the Future of the International Mobility Regime," led by Michael W. Doyle, a renowned professor of Law and International Relations at Columbia University in New York, and former adviser to the Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan. 

The article is included in the special edition of 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the ‘Monções: Revista de Relações Internacionais da UFGD’ (Monsoons: UFGD International Relations Magazine), in partnership with the UN Office in Brazil.

The study also presents the Model International Mobility Convention (MIMC), developed by a committee of experts around the world and representing the most current in the debate on migrants and refugees.

While the MIMC is a much more ambitious project than the current Global Compact, its ideas can serve as guidelines for advancing the debate over the next few years.

The MIMC was designed for a more integrated, fear-free and supportive world. It is an exemplary model to serve as our benchmark.

Brazil is a multi-ethnic nation, formed by migratory waves from all corners of the world. Brazil has modern immigration legislation, but it still has a long way to go in treating migrants how we wish to be treated.

Some of the MIMC's points that may interest Brazil are its equalization of forced migrants to refugees, and their right of access to work, education, housing, and public services.

In view of the need to integrate national, public, and private interests, the MIMC's proposals also include an integrated passport and Biometric identification system, an online visa pool platform for talent recruitment around the world, and pension mobility.  

Although Brazil has a new migration law, its effectiveness is not guaranteed. This is because, on the one hand, the migration law has not been fully approved and some points were barred by presidential decree.

On the other hand, the approval of a law does not guarantee its compliance and even its non-reversal. It exists to keep Brazilian citizens on track with external commitments as they face domestic changes.

Brazil is a multi-ethnic nation, formed by migratory waves from all corners of the world. Brazil has modern immigration legislation, but it still has a long way to go in treating migrants how we wish to be treated around the world. May today serve to remind us who we are and who we want to become. 

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