Merkel urges respect for migrants in UN conference speech

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan speaks about Ireland’s history of migration at UN

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, in Marrakesh, Morocco . Photograph: Abderrahmane Mokhtari/Morocco

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, in Marrakesh, Morocco . Photograph: Abderrahmane Mokhtari/Morocco

 

Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has said a UN accord on migration is “about nothing less than the foundation of our international co-operation”.

Mrs Merkel, who welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees from places like Syria and Afghanistan to her country, hailed an “important day” after more than 160 countries approved the first Global Compact for Migration at a United Nations conference in Marrakesh, Morocco.

She pointed to the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights being celebrated also on Monday, saying human rights apply “to every person on our planet”.

Mrs Merkel also inveighed against dangers posed by people smugglers, saying they could not be allowed to control borders.

She received a standing ovation after ending her speech by saying the United Nations was founded on the embers of the Second World War, and alluded to the “incredible suffering on humankind” wrought by the Nazi regime.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan represented Ireland at the conference, speaking about Ireland’s “long history of migration”.

“This gives us a responsibility to play our part in ensuring the vision set out in the Global Compact – of common understanding, shared responsibilities, and unity of purpose – is advanced,” he said.

“Seventeen per cent of Irish citizens are living abroad. These join with the 70 million or so people of Irish descent worldwide, descendants of those Irish forced to seek livelihoods elsewhere over centuries of political and economic uncertainty.

“Today, more than one in six of our residents were born abroad, and our workforce is the third most international in Europe.

“For ours is a global island, and one which we are proud to position at the centre of the world.” – Additional reporting from AP