Government to sign controversial UN Migration Compact

This looks a bit like a decision dumped at the end of the parliamentary year knowing that it could be controversial – Winston Peters has announced that the Government will support a UN Migration Compact after getting advice it won’t compromise New Zealand’s sovereignty.

If there is no problem why make the announcement now? Perhaps Peters thought it might compromise his and NZ First’s strong anti-immigration stance prior to them getting into power. That had already fizzled somewhat.

NZ First immigration policy (prior to last year’s election) included:

  • Stop the knee jerk annual immigration planning and start working on ten year and 25 year plans.
  • Create a new organisation to protect the integrity of New Zealand citizenship known as the Immigration Inspectorate.
  • Create an “undesirables” category, to ensure those from dangerous and unethical regimes are red-flagged before they get here.
  • Remove the capacity for New Zealand to even consider for refugee status, those with terrorism related convictions in other jurisdictions.
  • Make the Refugee Status Appeals Authority more directly responsible to Parliament.
  • Make DNA testing compulsory when any doubt exists over immigrant/refugee family relationships.
  • Refugee family reunification will be limited to spouses and immediate dependent siblings.
  • Consult New Zealanders about the make up of those coming here.

Peters has avoided talking about this UN Migration Compact until making this announcement, let alone consult with New Zealanders about it.

In particular:

  • New Zealand First will meet UN refugee obligation but believes humanitarian benevolence has been abused by family reunification policy.

NZ First’s tough stance on immigration seemed to be the attraction to voters, but things was whittled down to this in immigration in the Labour-NZ First Coalition agreement: As per Labour’s policy, pursue Labour and New Zealand First’s shared priorities to:

  • Ensure work visas issued reflect genuine skills shortages and cut down on low quality international education courses.
  • Take serious action on migrant exploitation, particularly of international students

The NZ First Party itself still wanted more vetting of potential immigrants. From their conference in September: NZ First members want migrants and refugees to sign to core values:

A remit to introduce a Respecting New Zealand Values Bill for migrants and refugees was passed by party members despite some opposition, and will now go to the caucus for policy consideration.

These values would include respect for gender equality, legal sexual preferences, freedom of religion and a commitment not to campaign against alcohol consumption.

New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell helped draft the bill and read out its intentions.

“New Zealand is a tolerant society. Our tolerance means that if an individual wants to immigrate to New Zealand, they must accept, respect and adhere to the tolerance our society expects,” it said.

“Immigrants must agree to respect New Zealand’s values and to live a life that demonstrates that they respect New Zealand values.”

From a NZ First announcement two days ago: Common sense approach to immigration welcomed

The Government is taking serious action on the immigration system to make it work better for New Zealand businesses and the regions.

Today’s announcement proposes introducing a new framework for assessing all employer-assisted temporary work visas and replacing the Essential Skills in Demand Lists with Regional Skills Shortage Lists.

“New Zealand First celebrates the end to the previous Government’s open borders approach which did not adequately address our skills shortages and put significant strain on our infrastructure,” says Mr Mitchell.

Also two days ago from Todd McClay, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Peters’ still hiding stance on Global Compact:

Winston Peters’ continued refusal to make a decision and tell the public what New Zealand’s position on the United Nations Global Compact on Migration is shameful, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“This morning the Prime Minister confirmed that a final decision is yet to be made on whether New Zealand is signing up to the Global Compact on Migration or not and we are all waiting on the Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters, to make up his mind.

“It beggars belief that the Foreign Minister is still considering what New Zealand’s decision will be.

“The Government has been negotiating this agreement since February, and the Minister signed off on our negotiating position then. The Minister also received a final draft in July, and New Zealand attended the adoption meeting in Morocco last week and yet New Zealanders are still being kept in the dark.

“This is a serious matter. When New Zealand commits to frameworks such as these on the global stage, it is the public’s interests at stake.

“But even after weeks of questioning by National, the Government seems no closer to providing information on whether they will commit us to this United Nations framework

Also two days ago in Parliament’s question time  Labour’s David Parker spoke on behalf of Peters (Peters was in Washington):

10. Hon TODD McCLAY (National—Rotorua) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Has he made a decision whether New Zealand will sign up to the United Nations global compact for migration?

Hon DAVID PARKER (Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs): On behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the member continues to display a fundamental misunderstanding of the diplomatic processes that apply. There is no document to be signed; there is a vote.

Hon Todd McClay: Why has the Government not yet been able to make a decision, given he has had the draft text of the UN compact since July?

Hon DAVID PARKER: On behalf of the Minister, because we are carefully checking all of the facts, including the irresponsible and incorrect assertions that this somehow curbs the sovereignty of countries that vote for the compact.

Hon Todd McClay: Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs confirm that the Government have been negotiating the compact since February, they’ve had the draft text since July, adopted it in Morocco last week, and are actually just keeping Kiwis in the dark until after Parliament has lifted for the summer recess?

Hon DAVID PARKER: On behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, no. I can confirm that the gymnastics of the Opposition, who signed up to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants on—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Stop telling lies.

Hon Todd McClay: Was the Prime Minister correct on NewstalkZB this morning when she said that it’s Winston Peters who would be making the decision to sign the UN compact later this week and not Cabinet?

Hon DAVID PARKER: I have seen the transcript of that interview, and that is an improper characterisation of it. [Interruption] It’s an incorrect characterisation of it.

Hon Todd McClay: Does he agree with the statement that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, made to media that the problem with these non-binding agreements is over time they become binding; and, if so, will he inform his Cabinet colleagues of his long-held position on UN agreements?

Hon DAVID PARKER: …The first point to make would be that I’m sure that the Minister of Foreign Affairs was speaking in respect of treaties. This is not a treaty. The second point I would make is that the reversal by the National Party on its earlier position is desperate, opportunist flip-flop, which appears to show that the National Party takeover by Judith Collins is just about complete.

This demonstrates the contentious nature of the UN Compact on Migration.

Yesterday’s announcement:

Government legal advice says UN Migration Compact doesn’t compromise sovereignty

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand will support the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration after being satisfied fears about the document are unfounded.

“The Government would not support the UN compact if it compromised New Zealand’s sovereignty or could in any way take precedence over our immigration or domestic laws. But the compact does not do that,” said Mr Peters.

“The Crown Law Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade have provided legal advice which confirms this UN cooperation framework is neither legally binding nor constraining on this country setting its own migration policies.”

Specifically the legal advice has stated that:

  • The compact is non-legally binding and does not create legal obligations;
  • It does not establish customary international law;
  • The compact should not be taken to give the legal instruments referred to in the text as having any binding effect that those instruments do not already have in international law;
  • It reaffirms the sovereign right of States to determine national immigration policy and laws and that States have the sole authority to distinguish between regular and irregular migratory status;
  • The compact does not establish any new human rights law, nor create any new categories of migrants, nor establish a right to migrate.
  • The compact in no way restricts or curtails established human rights, including the right to freedom of expression.

“The legal advice from Crown Law is not surprising but is important advice in debunking falsehoods or misguided perceptions being spread about the implications of this framework,” said Mr Peters.

“We are aware that the statements of other countries voting in support of the compact, such as the United Kingdom, are underpinned by legal advice supporting their positions.”

“In the end, New Zealand will be voting for a cooperation framework that was clearly set out at the start of the compact’s negotiations process in 2016 when the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants was unanimously adopted by all UN member states, including New Zealand under the previous government,” said Mr Peters.

“New Zealand is voting for the Compact because we support greater efforts in controlling migration issues while also being confident our own sovereign decision making isn’t compromised,” he said.

Reaction from Simon Bridges from NZ to vote in favour of UN Migration Compact (NZH):

National leader Simon Bridges has said the compact treats legal and illegal migration in the same way.

“There is no automatic right to migrate to another country without that country’s full agreement, a view which the UN’s Global Compact on Migration seeks to counter.

“While not binding, the compact could restrict the ability of future governments to set immigration and foreign policy, and to decide on which migrants are welcome and which aren’t.”

Newstalk ZB (audio): Misinformation around the UN migration compact is wrong

“It does not mean that you have a right to migrate, it does mean that your sovereignty is in any way compromised, and it does not mean that this overrides or prevails over the immigration law of any one country.”

The Free Speech Coalition says the UN Compact for Migration prohibits all critical speech of open-border migration, and encourages reporters to be educated on migration terminology. They say that’s unjustifiable in a free society.

But Peters says they haven’t read the whole thing.

“It begins by saying this, this and this, and it reaffirms that the media have the utmost right to practice their trade, free without fodder from politicians or governments.”

Peters says that in their statement to the United Nations tomorrow morning our time, they will be making it clear how New Zealand is interpreting the compact.

Countries can interpret the compact however they like? That seems odd.

And does it leave it open to future New Zealand governments to re-interpret it?

Signing the UN Compact is probably not an achievement that Peters will be campaigning on next election.

Leave a comment


  1. artcroft

     /  20th December 2018

    If it’s not legally binding then why sign it? because it is a quiet encouragement to mass immigration and increases the pressure on govts to accept ever greater numbers of undocumented immigrants. It keeps the conversation flowing in the direction that the socialists of the UN want. That’s why we should be wary of this.

    Of course if Peters were in opposition he would be railing against this, but being a lying hypocrite, he’s now all for it.

    • Duker

       /  20th December 2018

      When Bridges was in Government, NZ supported the 2016 UN declaration for Migrants and Refugees.

  2. Gezza

     /  20th December 2018

    The whole compact debate seems to be rather muddy. I got the impression it basically set out to ensure approved legal migrants weren’t discriminated against & were entitled to all the benefits & services we make available to migrants here already. The rest of it is just fluff.

    • David

       /  20th December 2018

      If it was just fluff why would Peter’s piss off his base, seems costly.

      • PartisanZ

         /  20th December 2018

        You can’t be asking this question David … Peter’s pissing off his base is NZFirst ‘best practice’ and par for the course … or in his parlance, “One each way on the Treble” …

        That’s what Peter’s does … and still some 5% of the voting population follow him blindly like sheep …

    • Noel

       /  20th December 2018

      Some time back when it was debated in Parliament Peters was quick to tell the Opposition that it didn’t t over fire NZ policy.
      Hmm I said at the time.

      • PartisanZ

         /  20th December 2018

        Or indeed “What’s left of our sovereignty” that hasn’t already been compromised by FTAs?

        The overt &/or covert connection between FTAs and immigration should not be ignored either … each being aspects or facets of the Mighty Rightie goal of “globalization” …

        • artcroft

           /  20th December 2018

          Who signed the FTA with China again? oh that’s right, Labour. Who signed the TTP? oh that’s right, Labour. Who actually moves against free trade deals? Trump. I guess that makes you PartisanT.

  3. lurcher1948

     /  20th December 2018

    Don’t worry the rights hero [use MP’s proper names] will withdraw from the compact if he makes it past the barbeque season.

  4. David

     /  20th December 2018

    Belgium just lost their government over it, being at the pointy end of mass migration gives them some insight. Austria, Australia, Poland and others have refused to sign.

  5. PartisanZ

     /  20th December 2018

    Nothing much to add to Gezza’s comment …

    I like the words “compact” and “legally non-binding” …

    I find it generally positive and reassuring that so many countries have signed the compact, which speaks of growing global cooperation and the best sort of ‘regulation’, the management, organizing and governance ‘voluntary’ and ethical kind …

    Global Market = Global Regulation IMHO … since all ‘markets’ require regulation … Immigration is now a corporate-political ‘player’ in the globalization game … It needs to maybe play by some suggested ‘rules’ …?

    The rest is either fluff or latent and beat-up paranoia … Stuff was into the latter yesterday …

    Oh no! Run for your Prepper Shelters … a 231% increase in NZ’s population!!!

  6. It would have been interesting to see how Slater would have spun this in his anti-immigration pro Winston Peters activism, but he is virtually absent from Whale Oil these days.

    Unrestrained, anti-Peters rhetoric rages at WO –

  7. How New Zealand’s population would change if everyone who wanted to migrate here actually did

    If everyone in the world could move to whatever country they wanted to, New Zealand’s population would swell by 231 per cent.

    United States-based research firm Gallup’s most recent Potential Net Migration Index (PNMI), a 2015-2017 survey of more than 450,000 adults from 152 countries, has revealed that New Zealand would see a substantial influx of people if migration were free.

    This is pertinent because New Zealand has voted to adopt the legally non-binding UN Migration Compact – the first-ever global agreement on a common approach to international migration – which was signed in Morocco on Wednesday.

  8. lurcher1948

     /  20th December 2018

    Winston will get the pension raised and all will be forgiven.

  9. Trevors_elbow

     /  20th December 2018

    Judges will refer to it as a guide. It will create precedent and de facto law change, without any parliamentary mandate… just like vague Principles of the ToW have. It’s a trojan horse and I hope that National keeps its promise to withdraw from it when they next form a government…

  1. Government to sign controversial UN Migration Compact — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition
  2. Peters blames ‘alt-right’ and NZ First member bewilderment for criticism of UN compact on migration | Your NZ
  3. NZ First email to members on UN migration compact | Your NZ

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