On Saturday, December 2, the Donald Trump administration alerted the office of the United Nations secretary-general that the United States of America is withdrawing from a UN agreement aimed at handling migrant and refugee issues.
"Today, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations informed the UN Secretary-General that the United States is ending its participation in the Global Compact on Migration," the U.S. mission to the United Nations announced in a press release.
In September 2016, the UN General Assembly unanimously agreed on a resolution — the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants — that the organization’s member states would be committed to the document, which “reaffirms the importance of the international refugee regime and represents a commitment by Member States to strengthen and enhance mechanisms to protect people on the move,” as described in a UN statement on the goals of the policy.
The UN statement further explains:
In adopting the New York Declaration, Member States:
• expressed profound solidarity with those who are forced to flee;
• reaffirmed their obligations to fully respect the human rights of refugees and migrants;
• agreed that protecting refugees and the countries that shelter them are shared international responsibilities and must be borne more equitably and predictably;
• pledged robust support to those countries affected by large movements of refugees and migrants;
• agreed upon the core elements of a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework; and
• agreed to work towards the adoption of a global compact on refugees and a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.
The Declaration contains a call to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to propose a “global compact on refugees” by 2018.
None of this apparently sits well with President Trump.
"The New York Declaration contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies and the Trump Administration's immigration principles. As a result, President Trump determined that the United States would end its participation in the Compact process that aims to reach international consensus at the UN in 2018," the U.S. statement said.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that "America is proud of our immigrant heritage and our long-standing moral leadership in providing support to migrant and refugee populations across the globe," and that "our generosity will continue." She added: "But our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone. We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country. The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty.”
And that is the core issue.
Sovereignty surrendered to the United Nations or to any other governing body whether it be through resolutions or trade agreements, is not compatible with the U.S. Constitution which in Article 4, Section 4 guarantees to each state a “republican form of government.”
A republic, as defined by James Madison in Federalist Number 10 is a form of government “in which the scheme of representation takes place.”
No citizen of the United States votes for any representative of the United Nations, not even the one ostensibly representing the interests of the United States at the world body itself.
Furthermore, there is but one just basis upon which government is founded and that is consent of the governed. Americans have no way to consent to the resolutions debated and adopted by the United Nations, particularly not one which would force sanctions upon this country for “racism and xenophobia,” two misdeeds named in the New York Declaration, but conveniently not defined.
Had the Trump administration not wisely withdrawn from this agreement, the government of the United States would have been obliged to provide for the “protection, health, [and] education” of migrants and refugees.
It’s not just the federal government that would be put upon by the General Assembly to facilitate the accommodation of migrants and refugees, but other institutions and organizations would be likewise bound to “ease the burdens” of those seeking asylum or a better life in the United States.
The Declaration requires the cooperation of “government at national and local levels, international and regional financial institutions, UN Agencies and NGO partners, and business and civil society actors” in the migrant support scheme.
Fortunately, for now it appears that the United States — their government and private banks and businesses — will be free of the fetters placed on their sovereignty by the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.
Photo of U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley: UN.org