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  • Rory O'Keeffe

US uses migration to further undermine UN

In yet another measure which signals both its withdrawal from actively participating in international agreements, and its ongoing desire to undermine and weaken the UN, the US government has announced it will not take part in the Global Compact for Migration discussions, set to start in Puerto Vallarta tomorrow.

The Compact, based on the New York Declaration, which aimed to set in place rights and protections for refugees and migrants, was supposed to be the final stage in the process, and to set laws and international standards which would help men, women and children find safety from war, terror and death, without dying or being sold into slavery in the process.

But US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who in a bitter and dark irony was the only consulted politician or diplomat who advocated for the US taking part in the Compact, has been forced to tell the UN: ‘The global approach of the New York Declaration is incompatible with US sovereignty.

‘The New York declaration includes many provisions that are incompatible with US immigration and refugee policies and with the principles dictated by the Trump administration in matters of immigration. Accordingly, President Trump decided to stop the participation of the United States in the preparation of the pact that aims to obtain a consensus at the UN in 2018.

‘No country did more than the United States and our generosity will endure. But our decisions on immigration policy should be taken by the Americans and only by Americans. We will decide the best way to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country.’

Haley’s comments, which as noted above were certainly not reflective of her own views on the issue of refugees and migration, are incorrect inasmuch as many nations have taken more refugees than the US, and in so doing have done far more to ensure their safety.

But the wider point here is that this is another measure of the US government’s desire to practice discriminatory and illegal policies, and withdraw from any international agreement which would prevent it from so doing.

It is also, however, based on two other things. First, as in the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate, it is an indication that the US is less eager than at any point since the Second World War to work with other nations to attempt to solve and overcome challenges which literally threaten millions of human lives.

Second, as in the 11 October decision by the US to pull out of UNESCO, it is part of an ongoing effort by the US to destabilise and weaken the UN, a process which began when the UN refused permission for the US to invade Iraq in 2003.

At the time the US pulled out of UNESCO (citing as its excuse UNESCO decisions which had annoyed Israel, even though Israel pulled out of UNESCO only AFTER the US did), we noted:

‘First, Donald Trump’s claim that he will put ‘America first’ does not leave much space for international cooperation on culture, multilateral operations, and education for people outside of the US – all foci of UNESCO.

‘Second, and perhaps more importantly, the US has since the second Gulf War was specifically vetoed by the UN, been looking for ways to reduce the UN in reality and in the eyes of actors across the world.

‘It cannot very well simply walk out of the UN – such a measure would be too clearly designed to destabilise, would cast the global political system into chaos and would be roundly and fiercely criticised; the US would in effect become a global pariah, albeit one whose wealth and control over the international oil market would cushion the impact of this somewhat.

‘But what it has already done – consistently voting against aid measures suggested by the UN; privately briefing journalists against the international organisation for a variety of reasons, ironically including both that it has too much power (it ‘orders’ sovereign states around) and too little power (it is just an ineffectual ‘talking shop’ which never gets anything done) and never offering ‘solutions’ in private or public, to these problems; refusing to contribute to humanitarian responses as part of the UN, even in situations where its own government aid body, USAid, is operating – has been designed to weaken the UN and reduce its ability to act.

‘This withdrawal is a part of this continuing policy. The US is pulling out of one part of the UN. It sets a precedent, and it draws questions about which other parts of the UN might be ‘unnecessary’ or ‘acting irrationally’. And it has the advantage of being ‘covered’ by the fact that the US is a close ally of Israel. It can honestly point to its close relationship with the state, and use that fact to ‘justify’ its decision to unilaterally withdraw from a part of the sole international cooperative body on Earth.

‘It is, in effect, the ‘perfect storm’ for the US. A genuinely destabilising action against the UN, (which the US believes acted beyond its position when refusing permission for the second invasion of Iraq) which fits Trump’s domestic focus, and is ‘excused’ by its alliance with Israel.’

The boycott of the Compact, like all activities of its kind, is not unrelated to the US’ wider global and internal outlook. Rather, it is confirmation that the US is prepared to see people die, rather than help them, and lives destroyed if it means reducing the UN’s reach

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