Intended for healthcare professionals


New UN compact for migration falls short on health

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 19 December 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k5327
  1. Kayvan Bozorgmehr, head of research group1,
  2. Louise Biddle, research fellow1
  1. 1Social Determinants Equity and Migration, Department of General Practice and Health Services Research, Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany
  1. Correspondence to: K Bozorgmehr kayvan.bozorgmehr{at}

Migrant health deserves equal billing with security and labour markets

This December marks the end of a two year consultation process culminating in two landmark agreements on human mobility under the auspices of the United Nations. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration1 was adopted on 10 December in Marrakesh, and the Global Compact on Refugees2 a week later.

The global compact for migration is the first intergovernmentally negotiated, cooperative framework covering international migration.3 Unlike its counterpart on refugees, the pact for migration attracted international attention—not all of which was enthusiastic. The US pulled out at the negotiating stage, and 28 other countries decided not to sign the non-binding pact.

Yet the compact is timely: migration is a global reality, with the largest movements taking place within countries and between low income and middle income countries, mostly for reasons related to work.4 Narratives around and responses to this reality, however, have shifted from supranational cooperation to nationalism, border control, and deterrence,5 with detrimental effects on the health of affected migrants.6789

The new UN pact, framed within target 10.7 of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), aims to foster international cooperation for “safe, orderly and regular migration.”13 To this end, 164 member states have …

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