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National sovereignty

GCM Guiding Principles
National sovereignty

National sovereignty

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 National Sovereignty:

“The Global Compact reaffirms the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law. Within their sovereign jurisdiction, States may distinguish between regular and irregular migration status, including as they determine their legislative and policy measures for the implementation of the Global Compact, taking into account different national realities, policies, priorities and requirements for entry, residence and work, in accordance with international law” (GCM, 2018: para. 15)

National sovereignty is a core principle of international law governing international relations, which affirms States’ independence and authority to govern their domestic jurisdiction, subject to their international law obligations by virtue of customary international law and the treaties they have ratified. While the Global Compact for Migration is not a legally binding instrument, it provides a policy framework for international cooperation while respecting States’ sovereignty and the human rights of all. National sovereignty entails that States have the authority on internal matters, including the right to determine who can enter and stay on their territory, and under which conditions, in accordance with international law, including international human rights law, which also offers protection to the human rights of migrant populations regardless of their status. The Global Compact on Migration is thus a tool that facilitates at the policy and practice level the operationalization of international law norms that States have committed through treaty ratifications, and also under international customary law and the principle of good faith which applies to all States. Migration is, has always been and will always be a global human phenomenon, and “no State can address migration alone” (GCM, 2018: para. 7). 

National sovereignty in the text of the Global Compact

The guiding principle of national sovereignty is also mentioned in the following sections of the GCM:

  • Preamble, para. 7
  • Unity of purpose, para. 15
  • Objective 11, para. 27: Manage borders in an integrated, secure and coordinated manner

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).