The consequences include increased mistrust and policies aimed more at stopping than facilitating human movement, said the secretary-general. "The fundamental challenge is to maximize the benefits of this orderly, productive form of migration while stamping out the abuses and prejudice that make life hell for a minority of migrants."
"I call for us to focus on the overwhelming positives of migration and to use facts not prejudice as the basis for addressing its challenges. Above all, I urge a respectful discourse that places our collective humanity at the center of the debate."
At the same time, development cooperation policies must take human mobility into account, he said, it is essential to provide more opportunities for people to be able to live in dignity in their own countries and regions. "Migration should be an act of hope, not despair."
He stressed the need to address the mixed flows of refugees and migrants. "What happens all too often with these movements represents a humanitarian tragedy and an abdication of our human rights commitments. They are reflective of acute policy failures: of emergency response, of conflict prevention, of good governance, of development, and of international solidarity."
"I call for greater international cooperation to remove those failures and to protect vulnerable migrants," he said. "In parallel, we must re-establish the integrity of the refugee protection regime in line with international law."
Guterres urged all member states to engage openly and actively in the negotiations ahead.
His presence at the General Assembly meeting was to launch his report titled "Making Migration Work for All," his input to the drafting of the global compact.
The General Assembly will hold an intergovernmental conference on migration in Morocco later this year with a view to adopting the global compact.
Guterres sees the adoption of the compact as "one of our most important collective priorities for 2018."
"We have an opportunity to fashion, for the first time, a truly global response to migration. It is an opportunity to maximize the contribution that millions of migrants are already making to our societies and to agree on a set of actions to ensure that the rights of all migrants are fully respected," he told the General Assembly meeting.
As a blow to the global initiative, U.S. President Donald Trump decided in early December to end his country's participation in negotiations for the Global Compact on Migration, on the grounds that the initiative was inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies and his administration's immigration principles.
The United States is home to the largest number of international migrants in the world.