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GCM Principles


The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) is based on a set of cross-cutting and interdependent guiding principles. This page provides resources for the guiding principle of Child Sensitivity:

“The Global Compact promotes existing international legal obligations in relation to the rights of the child, and upholds the principle of the best interests of the child at all times, as a primary consideration in all situations concerning children in the context of international migration, including unaccompanied and separated children." (GCM, 2018: para. 15).

Globally, there are an estimated 33 million international child migrants. Millions more are affected by migration without ever leaving their homes – including children left behind by migrating parents and children living without regular migration status. 

The GCM represents a milestone for children and States alike. For the first time, the GCM puts children and young people at the core of migration governance and provides States with a practical action plan to better meet their existing legal obligations to protect, include and empower all children and youth regardless of status. The Compact calls on States to recommit to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in the context of migration and to treat every child first and foremost as a child.  

Implementing the GCM in a child-sensitive manner starts with acknowledging how migration impacts children—whether they move alone or with their families; whether they have regular status or are undocumented; whether they stay behind when their parents migrate or are born to migrant parents at destination. Laws, policies, and practices that ignore them risk being ineffective, leading to migration systems failure. 

How can governments put the GCM child sensitivity principle into practice?

  • Treat migrant children as children.

  • Include migrant children in national and local systems and services.

  • Bring children and young people to the table as partners in the implementation, follow up and review mechanisms of the Global Compact on Migration.

  • Convene or join smart partnerships to pilot, share and replicate concrete solutions that work to protect children and youth on the move and unlock their potential.

  • Generate more reliable, timely and accessible high-quality data and evidence disaggregated by age, sex and gender and migratory status, including by including a category on forced displacement 


Children and child sensitivity in the text of Global Compact

As noted above, the fact that the rights of children is a guiding principle means that all 23 objectives of the GCM are relevant to children, even those that don’t have the word ‘child’ in them.  

The following objectives and actions of the GCM mention children: 

  • Objective 1, para. 17: Collect and utilize accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence -based policies
  • Objective 2, para. 18(b): Minimize the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin
  • Objective 3, para 19(c)(d): Provide accurate and timely information at all stages of migration
  • Objective 4, para 20(d)(e): Ensure that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation
  • Objective 5, para 21(g)(i): Enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration
  • Objective 6, para 22(e)(f)(h): Facilitate fair and ethical recruitment and safeguard conditions that ensure decent work
  • Objective 7, para 23(a)(b)(c)(e)(f)(i): Address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration
  • Objective 8, para 24(b)(c): Save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants
  • Objective 9, para 25(c): Strengthen the transnational response to smuggling of migrants
  • Objective 10, para 26(a)(i): Prevent, combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration
  • Objective 11, para 27(e): Manage borders in an integrated, secure and coordinated manner
  • Objective 12, para 28(b)(c)(d): Strengthen certainty and predictability in migration procedures for appropriate screening, assessment and referral
  • Objective 13, para 29(a)(h): Use migration detention only as a measure of last resort and work towards alternatives
  • Objective 14, para 30(d): Enhance consular protection, assistance and cooperation throughout the migration cycle
  • Objective 15, para 31(c)(f): Provide access to basic services for migrants
  • Objective 16, para 32(i): Empower migrants and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion
  • Objective 21, para 37(a)(b)(g): Cooperate in facilitating safe and dignified return and readmission, as well as sustainable reintegration

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) report is available in AR, ZH, EN, FR, RU, ES.

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    *References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).