Hungary Slams UN: ‘It Is Not a Human Right to Pick a Country Where One Would Like to Live’

Patrick Goodenough | February 27, 2018 | 4:21am EST
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Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto addresses the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, February 26, 2018. (Screen capture: U.N. Webcast)

( – Hungary’s populist government ramped up a dispute with international institutions on Monday, accusing U.N. officials of promoting migration as a right, at the expense of “the right to a safe and secure life, where we live.”

“It is not a human right to pick a country where one would like to live,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, adding that the crossing of borders must comply with international and national regulations.

Szijjarto also hit back at U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who in a speech earlier in the day sharply criticized Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán by name.

Szijjarto took aim at a recently-released draft of the “Compact for Migration”(GCM) document, which is being negotiated at the U.N. as a result of a decision taken at a refugee and migrant summit in New York in September 2016.

He said Hungary views the GCM draft as an “unbalanced and – in a very extremist way – pro-migration document, which is dangerous and irresponsible.”

“The document says that migration is something good and something unstoppable. We doubt that. Migration is dangerous. Migration can be bad very easily. And it’s not unstoppable.”

“It is unstoppable,” Szijjarto argued, “and we have to stop it.”

The Orbán government in 2015 erected a security fence along its southern border in an evidently effective but controversial effort to stop a flow of migrants from mostly Mideast and African countries.

“Encouraging migration is a very irresponsible behavior,” Szijjarto said. “It is bad for those ones who have to leave their homes and it is bad for those countries which have to receive a big number of people coming from different cultures.”

Only the country concerned “should have the right to make a decision whom they allow to enter the territory of their country, and whom they do not.”

Pointing to another clause in the GCM draft, Szijjarto criticized it for proposing that crossing national borders without permission should be considered an administrative matter rather than a criminal one.

(In the draft, signatories undertake to “ensure that national legislation reflects irregular entry as an administrative, not a criminal offence.”)

“Violating borders must be considered as crime, and must be sanctioned,” he said.

“It is not a human right to pick a country where one would like to live. Crossing borders can only happen according to international regulations, and staying in another country can happen only in the case of respecting the national regulations.”

“It’s time to get rid of hypocrisy and political correctness,” he concluded. “We have to offer solutions to help enhance the security of all our member-states, because the number one human right is that we all have the right to a safe and secure life, where we live.”

The Trump administration formally withdrew from the GCM process last December, also citing sovereignty concerns.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the time the U.S. would continue to engage at the U.N. but in this case it “simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders.”

“The United States supports international cooperation on migration issues, but it is the primary responsibility of sovereign states to help ensure that migration is safe, orderly, and legal.”

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