The Austrian government has decided to join the United States and Hungary in not signing the UN’s migration pact. Many thanks to MissPiggy translating this brief news report, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:
MissPiggy also translated the following article from Die Presse:
Austria is leaving the UN migration pact
In Trump’s and Orbán’s footsteps: The turquoise-blue government does not join the United Nations Global Agreement.
Vienna — Following the United States and Hungary, Austria will also withdraw from the global migration pact, which diplomats from more than 190 U.N. member states reached agreement on in July. Then the turquoise-blue government agreed after several weeks of wrestling. Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl is expected to submit a proposal to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, which is available to the press. Accordingly, the Federal Government will not send a representative to the conference in Marrakesh, where the agreement is to be officially launched on 10 and 11 December. At the formal vote in a later-planned UN General Assembly, Austria wants to abstain and present its concerns in a so-called vote statement.
Why the UN migration pact is controversial
“We see some points of the migration pact as very critical, such as the mingling of those seeking asylum with labor migration,” said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Austria would therefore not join the pact and thus prevent any possible future binding by customary international law. “This will ensure that Austria decides for itself in the future who will be allowed to immigrate and who will not,” said the ÖVP boss. Similar concerns were suggested by FPÖ vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, the driving force behind the “no” to the migration pact. “Austria must remain sovereign and self-determined on the migration issue,” he explained.
Legally non-binding anyway
If you study the UN paper more closely, your worries about a loss of sovereignty seem unjustified. Already in the preamble of the 34-page document it is stated that the agreement is not legally binding. It explicitly affirms the “sovereign right of states to determine their national migration policies themselves.” And migrants and refugees are well-distinguished. “Only refugees are entitled to specific international protection,” says the document.
The signatories also agree to coordinate border management in order to prevent irregular migration and smuggling of people. And they are committed to taking repatriated migrants home. All this is not mentioned by the turquoise-blue Council of Ministers. For this purpose, the draft for the declaration of intent before the UN states that the Austrian legal system deems a “human right to migration” as foreign. However, there is no trace of such a “human right to migration” in the UN agreement. It simply states that human rights are also valid for migrants.
Delayed insight by Strache and Kurz
The Federal Government rejects many of the objectives of the UN Migration Pact: It does not want migrants to gain better access to the labor market, school resources, health care, basic services and higher education, make it easier for their families to be reunited or start businesses more quickly. Migrants’ internment should be as possible in the future as well as collective removals or perpetrator profiles based on race, ethnicity or religion. Turquoise Blue fears that the recommendations formulated in the Migration Pact could one day become legally binding if courts invoke that. And that is why Kurz and Strache are completely abandoning the pact.
Your insight comes late. Austrian diplomats have helped shape the pact in five rounds of negotiations from February on, led by Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl nominated by the FPÖ. FPÖ Interior Minister Kickl was involved as well as VP Chancellor Kurz. Austria even negotiated since March for the other EU members. Now it is being raised during the EU Presidency — against almost all of the rest of the world.
Standing all alone on the right edge
On Austria’s side are so far only US President Donald Trump and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Two more Visegrád states could join: Poland and the Czech Republic, whose leaders are divided. Australia announced skepticism, but the government may be on the way out. Switzerland agrees, with reservations. Almost 190 states have no reservations. Why not? It is a toothless consensus paper, otherwise it would not have come about. With its “no” to the migration pact, Austria stands alone on the right-wing side — for domestic political reasons.
|00:00||Austria will be withdrawing from the planned global migration pact from the United Nations.|
|00:06||“This pact is not suitable for settling the immigration question,” declared Chancellor Sebastian Kurz|
|00:11||and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache. The Austrian government fears the loss of sovereignty|
|00:17||when it comes to immigration policy, and blurring the lines between legal and illegal migration.|
|00:23||The legally non-binding consensus paper to establish guidelines for the treatment of refugees|
|00:28||and migrants is expected to be adopted during the U.N. conference in Morocco on December 11-12.|
|00:35||The United States, Hungary and Australia refuse to sign the Migration Pact document.