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Burundian refugees at Lusenda camp.
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Citizenship

Australia Signals It Will Step Away From UN Migration Agreement


Why Global Citizens Should Care
The Global Compact on Migrants and Refugees has the ability to positively affect the lives of millions of people. You can take action to ensure refugees and migrants are treated fairly by calling on Australia to step up to support the compact here.

Australia’s Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton has confirmed that Australia will not sign The Global Compact on Migrants and Refugees, an agreement that has the potential to transform the lives of millions of people. The compact, set to be debated in Morocco this coming December, would be the first step in ensuring a coherent, coordinated intake approach and would provide much needed protections for migrant and refugee communities around Australia.

Take Action: Call on Australia to Step Up to Support Migrants and Refugees!

Despite Australia having been a key player in the negotiation of the agreement, Dutton stated the compact would not be signed “in its current form” due to the apparent breaches of Australian sovereignty.

“In good faith we are not going to sign any document that is not in our national interest and it is not in our national interest to sign our border protection policy over to the United Nations,” Dutton told Sydney radio 2GB. “We’re not going to sign a deal that sacrifices anything in terms of our border protection policies. We’ve fought hard for them.”

The Global Compact on Migrants and Refugees was initiated after 193 UN member states adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants on September 19, 2016. The final draft of the Global Compact on Migrants and Refugees, released this month, said “migration detention” should not be promoted as a deterrent or used as a form of cruel treatment.

“Countries need to review and revise relevant legislation, policies and practices related to immigration detention to ensure that migrants are not detained arbitrarily, that decisions to detain are based on law, are proportionate, have a legitimate purpose, and are taken on an individual basis, in full compliance with due process and procedural safeguards,” the agreement stated.

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Consenting to the compact could see a revision of the Australian government's border protection and refugee laws. Current laws see asylum seekers and refugees who arrive by boat detained in offshore processing centres on Nauru in the Pacific and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Australia’s refugee processing system, the only worldwide to use offshore detention, has long received international criticism.

Various human rights campaigners have voiced their disappointment over the possibility that Australia, despite being the newest member of the UN's Human Rights Council, could follow in the footsteps of the United States and Hungary and fail to sign the compact.

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The director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre Daniel Webb has criticised Dutton’s announcement as a blatant effort to side step responsibility.

“Our government has detained 120 children in an island prison for five years. Twelve people have died. Children as young as 10 are trying to kill themselves,” he stated. “It’s no wonder our government is trying to shirk scrutiny.”

Head of refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International Charmain Mohamed stated components in the final draft meant states where unable to pick and choose which measures to adopt and that the weight of supporting the world’s refugees and migrants would fall predominantly onto underdevelopment nations.

“Sadly, world leaders were not up to the challenge of delivering the bold and brave solutions that are so urgently needed,” Mohamed stated. “What is needed more than ever is a human-rights based, compassionate response to refugees’ needs, based on global responsibility sharing not responsibility shirking.”

Australians perceive themselves, for the most part, as a population who promote acceptance, tolerance and diversity and view giving people a fair go as a cornerstone of national identity. The Global Compact on Migrants and Refugees will seek to create a universal, fair, and coordinated approach to migrant and refugee intake. We encourage all nations to come to the table and join together to stand for freedom and the protection of children.