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Speech by President of the Government at Inter-governmental Conference of United Nations International Organization for Migration

Marrakesh (Morocco), Monday 10 December 2018

President of the Government.- Mr Secretary-General of the United Nations, Madam President of the General Assembly, Madam Secretary of the Conference, Mr President of the Conference, Heads of Government, delegation heads, ladies and gentlemen,

There are few issues as urgent, as important, as the one we are debating here. Migration will not just go away, and consequently, we must not flee from the debates this generates. Migration is an historical fact; it is inherent to being human. It has formed part of our past, it undoubtedly forms part of our present, and it will continue to do so in our future.

And migration is nowadays an absolutely global phenomenon; you only have to look around this room. Migratory movements are seen on all five continents; almost 260 million human beings live in a country other than the one they were born in. And it is not exclusively a question of north and south; or one that only affects a certain continent, the continent I come from, Europe. Migratory movements are principally between regions and between continents.

Globalisation, and this has been said here, unresolved conflicts, a lack of opportunities, a lack of economic development, climate change and many other factors exacerbate these migratory vectors.

At the same time, ladies and gentlemen, migration is not a homogenous phenomenon, you also have tourist and economic flows. You have regulated migration, illegal migration, which we must combat, and then you also have the drama seen with refugees.

Consequently, migration is a structural reality; it is not something merely passing. That is why it requires short-term measures, but it also clearly requires long-term measures and a strategic vision. And this is a global task. Together with climate change, this is undoubtedly one of the challenges we are most called on to address as an international community.

I have one thing clear, which is that no country can tackle the migratory phenomenon alone. In contrast, together we can achieve a much more effective response.

Hence, as clearly stated in the Marrakesh Declaration, this is a shared responsibility among all countries: the countries of origin, the countries of transit, the countries of destination - categories that are increasingly merging their boundaries, often even within the same country.

I am aware, ladies and gentlemen, that the task is enormous, because just when we most need them, multilateral bodies are being questioned by many large countries that currently dominate the world.

And far from discouraging them, I believe that this must spur on the international community, the multilateral bodies, such as the United Nations and its whole system, to work harder and better. That is why, ladies and gentlemen, this global compact in Marrakesh is so important for the Government of Spain, for safe, orderly and regular migration. Because this precisely represents a qualitative step forward in effective multilateralism.

The global compact is the result of constructive dialogue, with a multidimensional focus, with shared responsibility and based on fraternity. This ensures something important for the Government of Spain, which is the leadership of the United Nations and its bodies. And, in this regard, I particularly encourage the International Organization for Migration to head up this challenge.

I can assure you that Spain will collaborate in the balanced implementation of the 23 goals under the compact.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's foster the positive strands of migration and suitably manage the negative strands. Because if they are managed well, as is rightly said in the compact, migration can contribute to the development and well-being of societies. Migration helps overcome certain challenges, for example demographic challenges in destination countries with an ageing population, and helps foster economic, social and cultural development; the human development, in short, of countries of origin.

The shared goal is to achieve sustainable development for everyone, also in line with the 2030 Agenda, to which the Government of Spain is firmly committed.

In my country, ladies and gentlemen, all forms of migration converge: the origin, transit, destination and also return. Consequently, we know what we are talking about and we want to share our experiences at this forum.

Spain is firmly committed to the fight against the root causes of migration. That is why, for some decades now, we have been backing an integral vision of migration, which generates the right conditions for sustainable development. Hence, in 2019, we will also hold an international conference on the relationship between desertification and migration in the south of Spain, in the province of Almeria.

In our countries, it is also important to push through active integration policies for migrants, which contribute to creating more cohesive and more inclusive societies. That is why my government will set up a strategic plan on citizenship and integration. We will also set up a State fund for the structured integration of migrants, not only through the Government of Spain, but also through regional governments and local authorities.

Migratory flows must be suitably managed to maximise opportunities and reduce risks. And, I want to be clear on this point. Illegal migration is not the right path to take. This is often exploited by mafias, which play with people's lives, as we are seeing, in the Strait of Gibraltar, in the Alboran Sea and also in the Mediterranean, close to our country.

Illegal migration puts the human capital of countries of origin in danger. It creates instability in countries of transit, and also in those of destination, and impairs the mutual opportunities of orderly migration in destination countries.

We must be equally determined in a core aspect, ladies and gentlemen, which is respect for human rights and the dignity of people, which is a duty incumbent on us all. States are entitled to define their own migratory policies and to defend their borders; there is no doubt about that, but not to violate internationally recognised human rights.

We must fight together against people trafficking networks, migrant traffickers, because this is also an unacceptable human rights violation.

Allow me to end with a final, broader reflection. We are all aware of the times we live in. We must combat the exploitation of migration as an excuse for nationalist stances, border closures and xenophobic and exclusionary discourse, such as we are seeing in a good part of our societies. Calling on hatred, of fear of the unknown, only benefits those who use this strategy to obtain political gain.

The consequences of intolerance prejudice us all, because they harm our societies, distance people and countries, and curtail universal values such as liberty, human dignity and equality.

Let's not fall into the trap of forgetting the lessons of the past. Migrants are not guilty; on most occasions they are mere victims. Let's say this loud and clear and act in consequence.

The Global Compact signed today in Marrakesh paves the way to follow to correctly channel migratory flows: international cooperation based on shared responsibility and on solidarity.

Together and in coordination, I am convinced that we can provide the right response, the response that our societies deserve.

Thank you very much.

(Transcript edited by the State Secretariat for Communication)

Non official translation