Blog post written by Dr Christina Oelgemoller (Loughborough University) and Nicholas Maple (RLI) and forms part of a series of blog posts examining the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

The aim of Objective 23, which specifically concentrates on challenges presented by uneven development, is for participating states to support each other in the realization of the objectives and actions set out in the GCM. Specifically, this means taking into account the relative financial and resource weakness of some “African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States, and middle-income countries”. The Objective requires states to enhance cooperation internationally in partnership and solidarity, with noted attention to supporting those states with fewer means to fulfil their obligations – as set out in the Declaration on the Right to Development, arts. 3, 4 and 6 drawing justiciability from the Charter of the United Nations, the ICESCR, art. 2 as well as other instruments[1] and more recently, OECD instruments.

In reviewing the actions agreed for Objective 23, we suggest the following indicators for evaluation to ensure cooperation. Genuine cooperation is vital to avoid the risk of Northern states simply paying their way out of the responsibility to welcome and host migrants, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) make clear that the effort of sustainable development is not to be confused with giving aid only. As such, cooperation is active, participatory and grounded in equality as expressed in the instruments above, and elaborated for actionability in the OECD’s Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action.

1. Inclusiveness through Participation (e.g. ICCPR, art. 25)

Many stakeholders are to be involved in the implementation of the GCM as it is based on a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach. Inclusiveness in respect to the GCM means that especially those stakeholders that are listed in paragraph 44 are actively involved. For example, active involvement is ensured for migrants and their organizations by enabling their freedom of movement, as well as freedom of expression. Another example which indicates successful inclusiveness is to look out for how local authorities which practically bear the brunt of implementation are supported through resource allocation and have channels of communication into wider policy-making and international collaboration. Such measures will ensure effectiveness and result-orientation. This inclusiveness should be participatory and evidenced in all relevant regional, national and sub-national policy documents that will be drawn up in the process of implementing the GCM. Those laws and policies that already exist should be proofed against this indicator.

2. Ownership using local systems as expression of self-determination (e.g. common art 1 ICCPR and ICESCR)

Where financial and technical support is extended and in order to ensure genuine cooperation and partnership, this collaboration has to be undertaken in such a way that those who are recipients of support are enabled to be responsible and hold ownership over the programming. This includes drawing on local systems in line with the principle of devolution of authority. Programming needs to be relevant to the communities it is targeting. This can be expressed in guidelines for planning interventions and applications for support as well as in contracting and reporting instruments.

3. Non-conditionality (e.g. OECD’s Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action)

Where possible and as a practical expression of non-discrimination, financial and technical support should be given as non-conditional grant as a matter of standard. Further, where infrastructural support is agreed, this financial and technical support should be delivered in non-militarised form in order to ensure that freedom to leave[2] and bodily integrity of individuals[3] are not undermined. Claims to the sovereign prerogative notwithstanding, partnership for safety of mobility needs to be central to cooperation activities. This commitment can be shown by refraining from adding to debt burden and making migrants more vulnerable than many already are, thus ensuring an ethical approach to both collaboration and towards those who are mobile. This should not only be noted in cooperation agreements, but also be reflected in the procurement and contracting of implementing partners.

4. Transparency (derivative, e.g. Declaration on the Right to Development, arts. 3, 4 and 6)

This indicator naturally concerns transparency in the financial management where implementation is concerned. Equally however, it also includes enabling public scrutiny of reviews, for example, undertaken to ensure policy coherence with regard to individual state’s legal and policy architecture on international migration. Such reviews should be undertaken in collaboration with those partners identified in the GCM. Further, transparency is also important in terms of ensuring evidence-based programming that is reflexive of gender and other power dynamics that might introduce or maintain prejudice, thus ensuring compliance with Human Rights instruments. Transparency can be measured by states actively and openly participating in the UN Network on Migration and by extending open invitations to the relevant UN Special Rapporteurs and Representatives.

5. Accountability (derivative, e.g. Declaration on the Right to Development, arts. 1-4 and 8)

This refers to accountability to each other and the various constituencies within states, as well as in the context of the UN system. Accountability for policies and practices should be evidenced by engaging with an UPR-type activity.  Accountability for genuine cooperation should also be more practical by, for example, offering resettlement in the case of vulnerable migrants in need of special humanitarian assistance where one country has expertise to alleviate suffering or by facilitating access to international recruitment to enable migrants to achieve a more sustainable livelihood. In this way states can evidence their active cooperation in cases where the quantitative burden on social services/the welfare system in one country is reaching or has passed capacity.


The Global Compact for Migration aims to frame international migration normatively by drawing on Human Rights Instruments and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. It thus makes a clear statement about the universality of cooperation towards ensuring that all lives, including of those who are mobile are protected from harm and enabled to achieve well-being. In terms of cooperation, this means that it is not enough for rich donor countries to buy their way out of responsibility and their obligations towards migrants. The most important measure of implementation of Objective 23 is cooperation between countries such that the focus is on a migrant’s ability to (re)build sustainable livelihoods in locations they freely choose.

[1] See for example, Universal Declaration of Human Rights; International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

[2] For example, see Article 12, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Article 10, Convention on the Rights of the Child; Article 8, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

[3] For example, see Articles 6,7,8,9, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of the Refugee Law InitiativeWe welcome comments and contributions to this blog – please comment below and see here for contribution guidelines.