Hungary follows US to pull out of UN migration pact


Budapest (AFP)

Hungary said Wednesday it was withdrawing from a UN pact on migration, saying that the global deal encourages movements of people which are "dangerous for the world".

The Global Compact for Migration, whose final text was backed last week by UN member states after 18 months of negotiations, pledges to boost cooperation in addressing the world's growing flows of migrants.

Hungary's move follows that of Washington, which said in December that it was quitting negotiations on the pact because of provisions "inconsistent with US immigration and refugee policies".

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after a cabinet meeting in Budapest that the document is "dangerous for the world and Hungary", as it will "inspire millions to set out on the road".

"Hungary must step out of the approval process, and by doing so make it clear that in no way does it consider any measure or guideline of the package to be the way forward," he said.

However, UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak believes the pact "should not be seen as a threat".

His spokesman Brenden Varma said the document should rather be considered the "first ever platform to address the international phenomenon of migration".

"Regardless of various positions on migration and the text of the global compact, migration remains a reality," he added.

"In that regard, the global compact, which is not legally binding, is helpful in that it offers a set of tools to United Nations Member States, which they can use as they determine their own national migration policies."

The global pact lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration and better manage flows of people as the number on the move worldwide has increased to 250 million, or three percent of the world's population.

Szijjarto said Hungary, whose Prime Minister Viktor Orban won a third consecutive term in April on a fiercely anti-migration platform, did not trust that the pact is "legally non-binding" as stated in the document's final version.

During the negotiation process Budapest expressed concern that the agreement could lead to stronger measures that would force governments to open up their borders to migrants -- a move Hungary sees as a threat to its stability.

Negotiations faced hurdles over how to address illegal migration, with some governments insisting that migrants who aren't properly registered be returned to their countries of origin.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has argued that governments should recognise that "migration is a positive global phenomenon" and that migrants are needed to keep labour markets afloat.

The document will be formally adopted during a conference in Morocco on December 10-11.