Mechelen Declaration: Cities Adopt UN Declaration for Global Compact on Migration

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Cities are jockeying for more autonomous control within the nation-state, claiming that all societies will be multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual. Peter Sutherland, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration and Development, once stated that multiculturalism is the only path to implement Sustainable Development.   TN Editor

Over 50 cities from Europe, North, Central and South America, Asia and Africa were represented at the Global Conference on Cities and Migration, which sought to create a more positive narrative on migration from the perspective of local and regional authorities. The outcome of the Conference – the Mechelen Declaration – sought to capture the vision of mayors and governors of regional and local governments with regard to cities and migration.

The Global Conference on Cities and Migration took place from 16-17 November 2017, in Mechelen, Belgium. The event was organized by Belgium’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), and UN-Habitat. The meeting consolidated local governments’ contributions to developing a Global Compact on Migration, and reviewed progress in implementing the migration-related commitments of Habitat III, ahead of the intergovernmental stocktaking meeting for the Global Compact on Migration, convening in December 2017, and the 9th World Urban Forum (WUF 9), convening in February 2018.

The Declaration builds on the SDGs, the New Urban Agenda and the New York Declaration on Migrants and Refugees. In an annex, it presents the mayors and leaders’ actionable commitments, means of implementation, and a monitoring and evaluation mechanism, which serves as the basis for the first follow-up and review of the migration-related commitments included in the New Urban Agenda. The document recognizes the importance of a community-driven approach to local urban governance that benefits communities of origin, transit, and destination as well as migrants, refugees, returnees and internally displaced people (IDPs).

The Declaration calls on Member States to consider the following policy gaps in the process for the Global Compact on Migration:

  • recognize the support required for cities of origin, transit and return, as well as host destination cities;
  • treat local and regional governments as part of their nation-state, and not external or non-governmental stakeholders;
  • set up coordination mechanisms to enable local and regional governments to contribute to migration policymaking;
  • enable integrated urban solutions that are inclusive;
  • ensure the roles and responsibilities of local, regional and national governments on migration are clear;
  • ensure that the allocation of resources to local and regional authorities, as well as service provision, is done in a manner proportional to the growth of the population;
  • enhance the capacity for disaggregated local level data-collection and analysis, including for assessment reports and policymaking;
  • recognize and provide support to local and regional governments, in “their joint responsibility with the state” to ensure safety and access to justice for all.

The document was submitted to Louise Arbour, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for International Migration, and to the co-facilitators of the process for the Global Compact on Migration. The mayors, local and regional leaders also called on the next World Council of UCLG to endorse and promote the Mechelen Declaration. The next UCLG World Council will take place from 6-9 December 2017, in Hangzhou, China.

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