Rule of Law Development Key to UN Migration, Refugee Compacts

By Elizabeth Andersen
Director, ABA Rule of Law Initiative

While the U.S. considers isolationist approaches to the refugee and migration crisis, including this week’s proposal of troop deployments to the southern border, the rest of the world is negotiating two Global Compacts that take a decidedly different tack. The two compacts — one on migration, the other on refugees — promise comprehensive solutions that address root causes of migration, protect the safety and rights of those forced to flee, and reinforce solidarity and burden-sharing among states. The U.S. government has pulled out of the talks on the Migration Compact, but U.S. civil society remains intensively engaged in the process. For its part, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative will devote its annual spring conference to discuss the rule of law dimensions of the crisis. The April 17 event will convene experts from the humanitarian and development communities as well as leading academics to analyze legal aspects of forced migration--in countries of origin, transit, and destination--and highlight successful rule of law responses. An expert working group will meet April 18 to distill the key conference take-aways into a conference report that will inform the UN Compact process and, perhaps even more importantly, programs to implement the Compact commitments once adopted. As much as we might like to think that we can wall ourselves off from this reality, the scope and scale of the current migration crisis demand a comprehensive, rule of law approach to find sustainable solutions that guarantee rights and human dignity.