Skip to main content

National sovereignty

Cross-cutting theme in the Global Compact for Migration

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.

Contents using this term
Présentation HurifbaPledge
Legazpi City: Expanded Help Desk for Overseas Filipino WorkersPledge
Jincemon JoyPledge
Nilüfer Municipality’s “House of the Exchange of Populations” Museum: Promoting Cultural Diversity and Co-existence by Preserving Social Memory Pledge
Regularización a la “vuelta de la esquina": implementación de servicios de regularización integrados (MAC)Practice Repository
Coordinated Management of the DTM at the Chilean-Bolivian border Practice Repository
Kenya GCM Implementation Plan (2023-2027)Practice Repository
Support Programme for Indigenous Communities in the Context of Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, and Deforestation Practice Repository
Integration of human mobility due to environmental and climate reasons in Ecuador's National Plan for Climate Change Adaptation Practice Repository
Collection of information on international migrants in the Brazilian Demographic CensusPractice Repository
Migrant Response and Resources Mechanism in NigerPractice Repository
Regional Migrant Response Plan (MRP) for the Horn of Africa and YemenPractice Repository
Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V)Practice Repository
Ocean Viking - Cooperation between SOS MEDITERRANEE and IFRC for Search and Rescue and Post-Rescue Assistance and ReliefPractice Repository
Kenya’s GCM implementation planPledge
Expanding Welcoming Week Across the Globe and Fostering Belonging for All - No Matter Where We Come FromPledge
Facilitar la Doble Nacionalidad, Prevenir la Apatridia y Promover la Inclusión de Niñ@s y sus Familias Nacidas en el Extranjero: el caso del Estado de TlaxcalaPledge
Cooperation between Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and their Governments to provide humanitarian assistance and protectionPractice Repository
Welcoming Salt Lake: Government and Community Leadership Biannual Convening in Welcoming WeekPledge
Memorias MigrantesPractice Repository

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