States also need to work together more closely to share the benefits of migration, for example through partnering to identify significant skills gaps in one country that migrants from another are qualified to fill.
Third and finally, we need greater international cooperation to protect vulnerable migrants, as well as refugees, and we must reestablish the integrity of the refugee protection regime in line with international law.
The fate of the thousands who die in doomed efforts to cross seas and deserts is not just a human tragedy. It also represents the most acute policy failure: unregulated, mass movements in desperate circumstances fuel a sense that borders are under threat and governments not in control. In turn this leads to draconian border controls which undermine our collective values and help perpetuate the tragedies we have too often seen unfold in recent years.
We must fulfill our basic obligations to safeguard the lives and human rights of those migrants that the existing system has failed. We must take urgent action to assist those now trapped in transit camps, or at risk of slavery, or facing situations of acute violence, whether in North Africa or Central America. We have to envisage ambitious international action to resettle those with nowhere to go.
We should also take steps – through development aid, climate mitigation efforts and conflict prevention – to avoid such unregulated large movements of people in future. Migration should not mean suffering.We must aim for a world in which we can celebrate migration’s contributions to prosperity, development and international unity. It is in our collective power to achieve this goal. This year’s global compact can be a milestone on the road to making migration truly work for all.
The author is Secretary-General of the United Nations