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Trump Administration Ends Participation in Global Compact on Migration, Citing Concerns Regarding U.S. Sovereignty


On December 2, 2017, the Trump administration announced the end of its participation in the Global Compact on Migration, a proposed United Nations commitment that would address global flows of migrants. Citing American sovereign interests as the reason for withdrawal, U.S. officials stated that the Global Compact on Migration would undermine current U.S. immigration policy focused on border security.

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1 U.S. Mission to the UN Press Release, United States Ends Participation in Global Compact on Migration (Dec. 2, 2017), at [] [hereinafter U.S. Mission to the UN Press Release]; Rick Gladstone, U.S. Quits Migration Pact, Saying It Infringes on Sovereignty, N.Y. Times (Dec. 3, 2017), at

2 U.S. Mission to the UN Press Release, supra note 1.

3 Id.

4 See GA Res. 71/1, at 21, 23 (Sept. 19, 2016), at (adopting the New York Declaration and incorporating its text). The Global Compact on Migration is also called the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. See id. at 21.

5 Id. at 21. The Global Compact on Migration will not be a legally binding international agreement, but rather an “unprecedented opportunity for leaders to … lay out a common vision of how to make migration work for all our nations.” UN Secretary-General Press Release, Antonio Guterres, Towards a New Global Compact on Migration (Jan. 11, 2018), at

6 See Colum Lynch, Trump Boycotts U.N. Migration Talks, For. Pol'y (Dec. 2, 2017), at (reporting Trump's decision to boycott the global conference on migration days before it was scheduled to commence).

7 U.S. Mission to the UN Press Release, supra note 1.

8 Id.

9 U.S. Dep't of State Press Release, U.S. Ends Participation in the Global Compact on Migration (Dec. 3, 2017), at [].

10 Gladstone, supra note 1.

11 For a detailed discussion of the Trump administration's executive actions restricting entry into the United States and subsequent litigation, see Jean Galbraith, Contemporary Practice of the United States, 112 AJIL 109 (2018); Kristina Daugirdas & Julian Davis Mortenson, Contemporary Practice of the United States, 111 AJIL 764 (2017).

12 Josh Dawsey, Trump Derides Protections for Immigrants from ‘Shithole’ Countries, Wash. Post (Jan. 12, 2018), at In November of 2017, the Trump administration had already revoked deportation protection for nearly 60,000 individuals from Haiti. Id.

13 Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, U.S. Cities Want to Join U.N. Migration Talks That Trump Boycotted, For. Pol'y (Dec. 5, 2017), at

14 Metropolis World Association of Major Metropolises, Position Paper Submitted as a Contribution to the United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and to the Global Compact on Refugees (dated Dec. 12, 2017) [hereinafter Position Paper]; see also Hon. Jorge Elorza & Jessica Brandt, Why Cities Are the New Face of American Leadership on Global Migration, Brookings Inst. (Dec. 18, 2017), at (describing the steps taken by cities to be involved in the Global Compact).

15 Position Paper, supra note 14, at 5. See also Mayors’ Letter to Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations (Jan. 27, 2018) (requesting in a letter signed by nineteen cities, nine of which are in the United States, that the High Commissioner involve them in various efforts related to refugees, including the Global Compact on Refugees).

16 Allen-Ebrahimian, supra note 13.

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American Journal of International Law
  • ISSN: 0002-9300
  • EISSN: 2161-7953
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