GA: Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Tore Hattrem on the resolution to endorse the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, 19 December 2018.

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Mass migration poses a major challenge to countries worldwide. We therefore need a common multilateral basis for political efforts to deal with migration more effectively.

The adoption of the Global Compact for Migration at the high-level meeting in Marrakech on December 10 was a historic moment. We thank the Kingdom of Morocco for its hospitality.


First, we would like to express our support to the views expressed by Denmark.

Furthermore, as we stated in Marrakesh, Norway will join the Global Compact for Migration, but due to the ambiguity of the text, we find it necessary to submit for the record the following explanation of vote;

  • The Global Compact for migration is not legally binding nor does it seek to establish international customary law or further interpret existing treaties of national obligations.
  • The Global Compact reaffirms the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction in conformity with international law. The list of actions under each commitment constitute examples which may contribute to the implementation of the Compact. It is up to each State to decide how and whether to draw from these examples. States have the authority to distinguish between regular and irregular migratory status. The Global Compact reaffirms the legal and practical distinction between refugees and migrants. Issuance of documents to migrants will not in any way imply residency entitlement in the country issuing the documents, unless such rights are specifically indicated. Furthermore, effective border management with a view to combating human trafficking and smuggling is crucial for the security of States, communities and migrants alike.
  • All migrants, as human beings, have certain fundamental rights that must be fully respected. However, the Global Compact does not create any new legal categories, nor does it establish a human right to migrate. Moreover, it allows countries to reserve certain rights and welfare benefits for regular migrants.
  • Our position is that Norwegian legislation and associated schemes function well and there is no need to make any changes as a result of the Global Compact. It is therefore our understanding that the objective to enhance the availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration cannot be interpreted as conferring any obligation on Norway to further expand legislation or change practices regarding labour migration, education opportunities or family immigration, as these are already in accordance with international law. Decisions regarding which legal pathways are provided at any given time are at the sole discretion of the State concerned.
  • The Global Compact recognises that countries must be able to enforce migration legislation. Norway’s position is that the detention of foreign nationals may be necessary to prevent unauthorised entry into the country or when action is being taken with a view to deportation or extradition. Detention of minors may only be used as a last resort and for the shortest possible period.
  • The Global Compact clearly confirms the obligation of all countries to readmit their own nationals if they have been staying illegally in other countries, whether they return voluntarily or not, and on the obligation of all countries to cooperate on readmission. Norway will actively seek to enter return- and readmission agreements with relevant countries and to implement these fully.
  • In many countries, migrants have very limited social security entitlements and benefits, and there are strict rules for their portability. Norway does not interpret the Global Compact as requiring any revision of the portability of Norwegian benefits for migrants.
  • The Global Compact reaffirms the obligation to protect freedom of expression and we note that there is nothing in the Global Compact that limits free and fact-based reporting on migration.


On the basis of the clarifications we have made, Norway will take part in the implementation of the Global Compact, in particular with a view to improving migration management and stemming irregular migration.

We must work together – bilaterally, regionally and globally – to achieve safe, orderly and regular migration and to combat irregular migration. This Compact gives us an operational framework for cooperation to address one of the main global challenges of our time.

Thank you.