Nearly 85 percent of UN nations back migration deal; not US

Nearly 85 percent of UN nations back migration deal; not US
The empty seat of the US representative is seen during the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)

MARRAKECH, Morocco (AP) — Defying fierce opposition from the U.S. and a few other nations, nearly 85 percent of U.N. member states agreed Monday on a sweeping yet non-binding accord to ensure safe, orderly and humane migration.

The debate over the Global Compact for Migration, the first of its kind, has proven to be a pivotal test of the U.N.-led effort to crack down on the often dangerous and illegal movements across borders that have turned people smuggling into a worldwide industry, and give people seeking economic opportunity a chance.

"Unregulated migration bears a terrible human cost: a cost in lives lost on perilous journeys across deserts, oceans and rivers; and a cost in lives ruined at the hands of smugglers, unscrupulous employers and other predators," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a migration conference in Marrakech, Morocco.

"More than 60,000 migrants have died on the move since the year 2000," he said. "This is a source of collective shame."

Migration affects hundreds of millions of people across the globe — farmers coming off the land or forced by climate change to head to cities, families fleeing war or persecution at home, impoverished workers from the developing world looking for jobs in rich countries. It can also involve high-skilled workers from developed nations looking for opportunities beyond their homelands.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel walks past U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for International Migration Louise Arbor after addressing delegates during the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel walks past U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for International Migration Louise Arbor after addressing delegates during the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses delegates during the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses delegates during the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, left, arrives to attend the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, left, arrives to attend the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses delegates during the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses delegates during the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, 2nd left, and Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, center, chair the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, 2nd left, and Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, center, chair the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reads his speech while Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, right, looks on, during the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reads his speech while Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, right, looks on, during the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives to attend a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives to attend a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives to attend a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives to attend a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrives to attend a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrives to attend a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Dec.10, 2018. Top U.N. officials and government leaders from about 150 countries are uniting around an agreement on migration, while finding themselves on the defensive about the non-binding deal amid criticism and a walkout from the United States and some other countries. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A sub-Saharan poses with a key necklace at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A sub-Saharan poses with a key necklace at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A sub-Saharan migrant poses with a necklace at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A sub-Saharan migrant poses with a necklace at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A sub-Saharan migrant washes at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A sub-Saharan migrant washes at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Sub-Saharan migrants sit in a tent they share at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Sub-Saharan migrants sit in a tent they share at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A sub-Saharan migrant prays outside the tent he lives in, at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A sub-Saharan migrant prays outside the tent he lives in, at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Sub-Saharan migrants compete at table football as a way to make money, at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Sub-Saharan migrants compete at table football as a way to make money, at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A view of tents where sub-Saharan migrants stay at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A view of tents where sub-Saharan migrants stay at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Sub-Saharan migrants compete at a table game as a way to make money, at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Sub-Saharan migrants compete at a table game as a way to make money, at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A sub-Saharan migrant shows injuries he sustained while trying to scale the Ceuta fence, at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A sub-Saharan migrant shows injuries he sustained while trying to scale the Ceuta fence, at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Wazzizi, a sub-Saharan migrant from Guinea, sits outside the tent where he lives at at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Wazzizi, a sub-Saharan migrant from Guinea, sits outside the tent where he lives at at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A sub-Saharan migrant gets a haircut at a makeshift hair salon at at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A sub-Saharan migrant gets a haircut at a makeshift hair salon at at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Abubakar Dialo, 26, a sub-Saharan migrant from Senegal, walks outside the tent where he lives at at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Abubakar Dialo, 26, a sub-Saharan migrant from Senegal, walks outside the tent where he lives at at Ouled Ziane camp in Casablanca, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement next week, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery and unsanitary conditions. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.'s first migration compact. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) (Source: Mosa'ab Elshamy)

Defenders say migration greases the wheels of the world economy by diversifying and rejuvenating workforce in aging rich countries and providing a needed source of cash to poorer countries through remittances sent home by migrants.

Opponents often fear that an influx of migrants can dilute their countries' character, import poverty or crime, reduce wages and take jobs from tax-paying citizens.

A total of 164 countries among the 193 U.N. members approved the agreement by acclamation Monday. The U.N. General Assembly will meet on Dec. 19 to endorse it.

At the two-day conference, U.N. leaders were hoping to lure in holdouts from mostly Western nations who were not signing: Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia along with the United States, which under President Donald Trump did not participate in drafting the accord.

Louise Arbour of Canada, a former U.N. human rights chief, said the issue also has been tied up in parliamentary debates in Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Italy, Israel, Slovenia and Switzerland — although some of them did participate in creating the accord, which has since been ensnared by tough political headwinds.

The conference is the capstone of efforts set in motion two years ago when all 193 U.N. member states, including the U.S. under President Barack Obama, adopted a declaration saying that no country can manage international migration on its own and agreed to work on a global compact.

The U.N.'s International Organization for Migration defines migrants as anyone working or living far from home. It says every refugee — people who flee persecution in places like Myanmar or Syria — is a migrant. Unlike refugees, some migrants can be motivated by economic opportunity, and many of those head to rich, developed countries in the West or the Persian Gulf.

The Trump administration — which is demanding a wall on the Mexican border and has sent U.S. military troops to the border to block a migrant caravan moving toward the U.S. through Central America — pulled out of the accord a year ago. It claimed that parts of the compact clashed with "U.S. immigration and refugee policies."

Some European Union countries, including Italy, Poland and Hungary, now have anti-migrant populist governments that have reacted strongly after over 1 million migrants — mostly refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — poured into Europe in 2015.

Proponents of the compact decried "false information," such as the claim it will force countries to legalize immigration.

Defenders of the pact simply want to remind some politicians and countries that migrants are people too, and have human rights. The U.N. was also celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights on Monday.

"The easiest fear to stoke up is the fear of the foreigner," U.N. human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said.