With US pullout, PH leads campaign to protect rights of migrants
The Philippines has vowed to lead the campaign for a global agreement on the protection of migrants’ rights following the withdrawal of the United States from the UN-led negotiations.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday reached out to “our allies in the West” for support, without directly commenting on the US decision to withdraw from the so-called New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants that was reached last year.
The declaration, which seeks to provide better treatment and protection for migrant workers, would lead to a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) that is expected to be adopted by the United Nations by the end of next year.
The Philippines is among the participants in the preparatory negotiations this week in Mexico. The main negotiations will be held at the UN headquarters in New York from February to July next year.
The GCM will be adopted at an international conference to be hosted by Morocco in December 2018.
“Our experience in the promotion of the welfare and the protection of the rights of Filipino migrants firmed up our commitment to stirringly advocate for the rights of all migrant workers,” Cayetano said in a statement during an official visit on Monday in Macau.
“We are also committed to work with our allies and friends in the West who share our values but have issues and concerns that need to be addressed,” he added.
He called the negotiations for a global compact the primary UN process to advance the cause of migrant workers.
“The GCM process is important to the Philippines and we are ready to assume a leadership role to ensure a successful outcome,” Cayetano said.
With at least 10.4 million Filipinos living abroad, the Philippines is among the few countries that have fought to include migration on the UN agenda and led the campaign for a global compact on migration, according to Teodoro Locsin Jr., the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York.
The Philippine delegation to the GCM negotiations in Mexico will be headed by Foreign Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola.
On Sunday, the United States notified the United Nations that it was withdrawing from the negotiations, saying that staying in the campaign would be inconsistent with American immigration policy.
US President Donald Trump has made “America First” a cornerstone of his administration, issuing executive orders to restrict incoming immigration and refugee settlement.
“Our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone. We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country,” US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said.
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