Does this mean that non-binding agreements such as the GCM are unnecessary? The history of multilateral diplomacy suggests that opaque agreements can be valuable. For example, Peters cites the example of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (which became the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1994. The Western and Soviet blocs developed this non-binding European security framework in 1975 in the form of a “Helsinki Final Act”. It contained clauses on human rights and humanitarian issues that inspired democracy activists in the Warsaw Pact – and liberals like Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev – in the final years of the Cold War. But even today, the OSCE “does not have a founding treaty or an international legal personality.” Seemingly weak degrees can give real results if time is given. How can a non-binding international agreement lead to a diplomatic crisis? Earlier this week, international leaders gathered in Marrakech, Morocco, to support the new Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. According to the protocol, it was the largest conclave of the United Nations in 2018, after the regular opening of the General Assembly. But a lot of news reported that didn`t come. This global pact (known as the GCM at the UN) has recently become one of the most controversial multilateral documents. The United States, Australia, Israel and a number of European countries have distanced themselves, in whole or in part, from the agreement, saying they plan to encourage global human flows rather than control them. In 2018, access to knowledge for millions of people around the world, blind or otherwise, has surged: 42 other countries have joined the World Intellectual Property Organization`s (WIPO) Marrakech Treaty for people with pressure disabilities.
With all its difficulties, the GCM could still set a precedent for future international agreements – a conceptual framework that many players can buy, regardless of what national leaders say. But the controversy surrounding the pact is also a warning for future diplomacy. Promoting transnational cooperation may seem like an intelligent way to circumvent a hard intergovernmental policy. But confident nationalist/sovereign governments such as those in Washington and Budapest see this type of pragmatic internationalism as a threat to their own authority and political agendas. On October 10, 2018, the United States passed national laws (the Marrakesh Treaty) that paved the way for U.S. membership. The next step will be for the United States to formally submit its ratification instrument to WIPO in Geneva. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it a “roadmap for preventing suffering and chaos” and tried to dispel a number of myths surrounding the pact, including allegations that it would allow the UN to impose migration policies on member states. To answer these questions, it is useful to look at other recent UN agreements – such as the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals – and also older examples of poor international bargains. It is true that the new agreement is not easy to read. These are about 23 clusters of intergovernmental migration management commitments, many of which are written in diplomatic language, that only hardened UN insiders can understand.
All that is in the document is not necessarily the arsenal of international diplomacy with great effort. There is, for example, the promise to promote “culinary events” to help migrants integrate into their host communities.