Strengthening the connection between people seeking livelihoods abroad and the post-2015 development agenda was crucial to origin and destination countries and to migrants themselves, delegates heard today, after unanimously adopting the Declaration of the General Assembly’s High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.
More than 100 Ministers and other representatives of Member States and civil society were participating in the two-day Dialogue, which considered related issues to be addressed during four interactive round tables and side events. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed delegates alongside keynote speakers John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda), President of the General Assembly, Néstor Osorio (Colombia), President of the Economic and Social Council, Tobias Billström, Chair of the Global Forum for Migration and Development, Gibril Faahl, Chair of the African Foundation for Development, and Oxford University Professor Ian Goldin.
Secretary-General Ban outlined an ambitious eight-point agenda that he had proposed to the General Assembly to “make migration work” for all, with attention to protecting human rights and eliminating the exploitation of migrants, among other areas. Enhancing partnerships and cooperation and eliminating discrimination against migrants was also crucial. “It is our collective responsibility to make migration work for the benefit of migrants and countries alike,” he said. “We owe this to the millions of migrants who, through their courage, vitality and dreams, help make our societies more prosperous, resilient and diverse.”
Mr. Ashe agreed, emphasizing that since the first High-level Dialogue in 2006, the face of migration had changed, with more South-South movement and changing trends in Europe and other regions. “This Dialogue comes at a critical time for the United Nations, as we are embarking on what may be the Organization’s most far-reaching and ambitious task,” he said. “Well-managed migration reduces poverty and contributes to development. Migration must receive its place in the post-2015 development agenda. Change is never simple. It requires patience, perseverance and a commitment to live peacefully,” he added. “We will work together to break new ground.”
Welcoming that Member States’ agreement on the joint declaration as an outcome document of the second High-level Dialogue, Mr. Osorio said it was time to act more systematically and responsibly in origin, transit and destination countries, and to put an action-oriented agenda in place with the aim of creating a safer and more transparent system of international mobility that would protect the human rights of all migrants.
Mr. Billström said the Global Forum on Migration and Development was engaging migration’s evolving challenges and opportunities. “As a global community, we should, thus, take further steps to strengthen this positive achievement and ensure its sustainability,” he said. “The success of the Forum cannot be taken for granted. We encourage Governments to maintain their ownership of the Forum, to support it, to engage actively and to continue strengthening the development focus.”
Mr. Goldin said that overcoming migration challenges depended on the big task of translating theories into actions and making the right decisions. In trade, theoretical evidence and frameworks already proven to bolster reform were stalled, and it was to be hoped that the same log-jam would not weigh migration issues down. “We are all migrants,” he declared, summing up a common thread running through the Dialogue. “No civilization today would be where they are without migrants.”
Mr. Faahl agreed, glancing around the room before saying, “this place is full of them”. They included itinerant diplomats, fourth-generation immigrants and many others. But, given the strong axis between migration and development, it was odd that more progress had not been made to date, he added. A new “diaspora enlightenment” was needed when contemplating sustainable development goals.
Throughout the Dialogue, many speakers emphasized the need to put a human face on the issue of migration, especially in light of the recent tragic drowning of illegal migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, while attempting to reach Italy in search of a better future. “It is about people,” said Konstantin Romodanovsky, a Minister in the Russian Federation’s Federal Migration Services. The country was the number two destination for migrants, he said, adding that no single State was in a position to respond to migration challenges on its own. Dialogue and cooperation were needed.
Many Ministers emphasized that both origin and destination countries bore responsibility for helping to protect migrants and for recognizing their role in development. “Global migration and development perspectives should be people friendly, enabling origin and destination countries, as well as migrants themselves to share equitably the benefits of migration,” said Arnaldo Brown, Jamaica’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. Efforts should be made to reduce the costs of remittances, and the “brain drain” must be transformed into a “brain gain”, he added.
A number of speakers underscored the ballooning value of remittances, which had risen to $414 billion in 2013. Jacques Ramirez, Adviser to Ecuador’s Minister for Migration and Human Mobility, noted the income-generating role of migrants in destination countries was often ignored, often amid impressions that they took jobs from local populations.
Nigeria’s Minister for Internal Affairs said his country had been the fifth-largest recipient of remittances through the banking sector in 2012, describing migration as an integral part of human history and progress. It was also a vehicle for social reconfiguration, providing social benefits for migrant households, he added.
The speaker representing Iran urged States to avoid limiting contacts between migrants and origin countries, as such contact could foster skills and the transfer of knowledge. They should also address unfair obstacles to remittance flows in developed countries.
Some speakers said the intrinsic ties between migration and development must be amplified. Arjun Bahadur Thapa, Nepal’s Foreign Secretary, said the current High-level Dialogue would be the turning point in addressing “this important issue” and bringing it into the mainstream as the world community advanced the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and framed the post-2015 development agenda. Migration should be approached in such a manner as to bring about a “win-win” situation to origin and destination countries, he said, adding that more effective mechanisms for cooperation and collaboration were needed at the bilateral, regional and global levels.
Also delivering statements today, mostly at the ministerial level, were speakers from Namibia, Algeria, Mozambique, Bahamas, Botswana, Nigeria, Gambia, Sweden, Sudan, Angola, Tajikistan, Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Lithuania, Nepal, Switzerland, Lesotho, Morocco, Eritrea, United States, Mexico, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Qatar, El Salvador, Belarus, Costa Rica, Norway, Kyrgyzstan, Hungary, Republic of Korea, Brazil, Paraguay, Austria, Australia, Estonia, Turkey, United Kingdom, France, Iran, Canada, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Panama, Chile, Republic of Moldova, Ghana and Sri Lanka.
Other speakers represented Fiji (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Ethiopia (on behalf of the African Union), Cuba (on behalf of the Community of Latin America and the Caribbean States (CELAC), Bangladesh (on behalf of the Colombo Process), Benin (on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries) and the European Union delegation.
A representative of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights delivered a statement.
Before the Dialogue began, Mr. Ashe announced the names of the six elected Chairs of the Assembly’s Main Committees for the sixty-eighth session, as follows: First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) — Ibrahim Dabbashi (Libya); Second Committee (Economic and Financial) — Abdou Salam Diallo (Senegal); Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) — Stephan Tafrov (Bulgaria); Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) — Carlos Enrique Garcia González (El Salvador); Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) — Janne Taalas (Finland); and Sixth Committee (Legal) — Palitha Kohona (Sri Lanka).
The General Assembly will reconvene on 4 October, to continue the High-level Dialogue.
As the General Assembly met today to convene a two-day High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, it had before it the Secretary-General’s report on international migration and development (document A/68/190), and his note titled Organization of the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (document A/68/162), as well as a draft resolution on the Declaration of the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (document A/68/L.5).
JOHN ASHE, President of the General Assembly said the recent tragedy off the coast of Sicily reminded the world about the critical and urgent need to protect migrants. In his own country, Antigua and Barbuda, migration had deprived it and other countries of the skills needed for development. The flip side of that coin was those who left invested and developed businesses back home. Over the next two days, the Assembly’s focus would be on people who left their homes for better opportunities, where there was potential for great rewards. Enhancing the benefits of international migration and reducing its negative implications should clearly be the focus of this dialogue.
After much discussion over the years, migration was a joint effort between countries of origin and of destination, he said. A number of resolutions had been adopted in the Second and Third Committees, which were enhanced by discussions in the Economic and Social Council, civil society’s talks and its action-oriented agenda for the next five years. Learning from these and other experiences, it was time to take “the next step”, with a focus on realistic targets and monitoring progress to follow up on the on-going dialogue.
Since the first dialogue held in 2006, the face of migration had changed, he said. In Europe and other parts, migration had slowed, yet it had increased in Africa and other regions. Globally, economic crises had impacted countries around the world, seeing some countries bouncing back while others faced slower recovery. Some migrants had been forced to return home while their jobs disappeared and many faced racism, discrimination and intolerance, making them easy scapegoats. Protecting the rights of migrants must be the cornerstone of our policies. Freedom, justice and peace, the foundations of the United Nations Charter, also applied to the more than 230 million international migrants.
“This dialogue comes at a critical time for the United Nations as we are embarking on what may be the Organization’s most far-reaching and ambitious task,” he said. “Well-managed migration reduces poverty and contributes to development. Migration must receive its place in the post-2015 development agenda. Change is never simple. It requires patience, perseverance and a commitment to live peacefully. We will work together to break new ground.”
“Today we are united in a joint declaration on the importance of migration to development, and on the protection of the rights of all migrants,” said the United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON, attributing that progress to the climate of trust established in the Global Forum on Migration and Development.
He said that the face of migration was changing, as more migrants came from and were going to more places than ever before; almost half of them were women; one of every 10 was under age 15; and four of every 10 were living in developing countries. The international community should work together to address the complex realities with courage and vision.
The Secretary-General outlined an ambitious eight-point agenda, which he had proposed to the General Assembly to “make migration work” for all, and called for actions in areas from protecting the human rights of all migrants and lowering migration costs, to eliminating the exploitation of migrants and addressing the plight of stranded migrants. Also crucial was improving public perceptions of migrants and integrating them into the development agenda and strengthening the migration evidence base and enhancing partnerships and cooperation.
“It is our collective responsibility to make migration work for the benefit of migrants and countries alike,” he said. “We owe this to the millions of migrants who, through their courage, vitality and dreams, help make our societies more prosperous, resilient and diverse.”
The Assembly then adopted the resolution (document A/68/L.5) unanimously.
NÉSTOR OSORIO ( Colombia), President of the Economic and Social Council, stressed the need to better articulate and enhance the linkages between migration and development and to promote a human rights-based approach, in order to achieve the fullest development potential of migration. When governed by rights-based policies, international migration could be empowering, with development benefits for migrants, their families and communities.
Welcoming that Member States had been able to agree on a joint declaration as an outcome document of the second High-level Dialogue, he said it was time to act more systematically and responsibly in countries of origin, transit and destination and to put in place an action-oriented agenda aimed at creating a safer and more transparent system of international mobility, which would protect the human rights of all migrants.
Stressing that the United Nations should play a key role in the follow-up to this High-level Dialogue, he pointed out that the Economic and Social Council was currently undergoing a review of its functions and mandate, which provided an opportunity to consider how that body could make its contribution in that regard.
Migration could be a triple win, he emphasized, but it also had costs, for which more needed to be done. Migrant workers should be protected from abuse and exploitation, human trafficking and smuggling, as well as discrimination, xenophobia and related acts of intolerance, he said, calling for concerted international action to address those challenges.
TOBIAS BILLSTRÖM, Chair of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, said his organization was the most important and tangible deliverable in the field of migration and development coming out of the last High-level Dialogue and more than 160 Governments had taken part in annual meetings. The Forum offered a space for informal and voluntary dialogue that brought together all stakeholders. There were now records of good practice on bilateral labour arrangements, benchmarks, monitoring and licensing systems for recruiters and other intermediaries and sharing legal frameworks and practices to facilitate productive investments and spending on health and education through remittances, among other things, including rights and protection.
Engaging migration’s evolving challenges and opportunities, the Forum’s process had added value to other related fora, he said. As such, the Forum paved the way for improvements in policy, programmes and practice that would benefit countries of origin and destination, and the migrants themselves. “As a global community, we should, thus, take further steps to strengthen this positive achievement and ensure its sustainability,” he said. “The success of the Forum cannot be taken for granted. We encourage Governments to maintain their ownership of the Forum, to support it, to engage actively and to continue strengthening the development focus.”
IAN GOLDIN, Professor at Oxford University, said overcoming challenges in migration rested on the big task to translate theories into actions and make the right decisions. In trade, theoretical evidence and frameworks that had been proven to bolster reform were stalled, and he hoped the same log-jam would not weigh down migration issues. All evidence showed that small changes made in migration regimes led to significant gains to both sending and receiving countries, fundamentally transforming the lives of migrants and their families. There was no other area where small change could improve the lives of so many for so long.
“We are all migrants,” he said. “No civilization today would be where they were without migrants.” John Stuart Mill, Adam Smith and others had seen migration as central to economic growth and progress. There were now fewer migrants in the world than before globalization and a century ago. The World Bank had evidence that small policy changes would yield great results.
However, none of this evidence accounted for the dynamic factors, he said. New evidence had been generated from Silicon Valley, where half the start-ups came from migrants. Steve Jobs would not have started Apple if his parents weren’t migrants. The Secretary-General’s eight-point agenda highlighted the major issues to be addressed. The data and research on migration remained an “orphan” of the system and needed to be bolstered to take the agenda forward. For developing and advanced countries, this debate was critical. The task was to seek what was known to advance to concrete action.
GIBRIL FAAHL, Chair of the African Foundation for Development, agreed, saying that this forum contained a sea of migrants, including itinerant diplomats, fourth generation immigrants and many others. “This place is full of them,” he said. Given the strong axis between migration and development, it was odd not to have made more progress to date. Partnerships with diasporas needed to be based on a solid foundation. When contemplating sustainable development goals, a new “diaspora enlightenment” was needed. Civil society had proposed to cooperate with Member States in its action plan.
Then he pointed to the millions of families that had extracted themselves from poverty in generations and the policies that had addressed those issues. Development was a way of life to those families that supported communities and their countries. The world’s 230 million migrants were supporting 1 billion people in the developing world today. Once the current meeting was over, delegates should return to their countries with a message that migrants were ready and willing. He also encouraged delegates to move forward the dialogue and said it was critical to endorse a framework action plan for migration.
CATHI TACTAQUIN, Executive Director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said that based on numerous intensive consultations, civil society had finalized and submitted a proposal to the United Nations Member States, which envisioned an eight-point five-year action agenda coming out of the High-Level Dialogue. She hoped that proposal would get support from Member States. Calling for the integration of migration into the post-2015 global development agenda, she said the contributions of migrants must be acknowledged and the challenges they were facing must be addressed.
The international community should make efforts to make migration a choice instead of a necessity, she said, drawing particular attention to those migrants stranded in crises, such as conflicts and natural disasters. Human rights of all migrants must be protected and mechanisms set up to guarantee labour rights of migrant workers. She stressed that participation of civil society in the global discussion on migration and development should be “institutionalized”.
JOKETANI COKANASIGA, Minister of Defence, National Security and Immigration of Fiji, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the global issues of migrants and migration had economic and structural imperatives. The economic imperatives caused migration, concentration of wealth and dual labour markets, benefiting powerful interests and reinforcing power structures that often blamed, penalized and criminalized migrant workers who were caught in this web. The organizational and political imperatives were the challenge. It was necessary to overcome those biased approaches and work towards facilitating orderly and safe mobility. Migrants were responsibility persons trying to earn a living and support their families and they must be aware of their rights. The root causes of migration must be discussed and addressed so that migration became a matter of choice rather than a desperate necessity. Dialogue between all actors and agencies on the link between migration and development also needed to be discussed at public and policymaking levels.
The positive impact of migration on development was hinged on orderly migration governance that protected human rights and migrants’ well-being, he said. The Group emphasized the importance of cooperation and dialogue, including on labour mobility and it was committed to strengthening existing mechanisms to ensure development policies were coordinated in sending and receiving countries to build employment opportunities in sending countries. Families were the foundation of all societies. All Member States must take reunification measures in accordance with international and national commitments. Climate and economic crises would continue to impact migration. It was necessary to address those issues to minimize negative impacts on migrants and their families.
TEKEDA ALEMU ( Ethiopia), Chair of the African Union, said firm and bold individual and collective actions were needed to address the complex relationship between migration and development. It was a matter of self-interest for all to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants were respected. Migrants faced many challenges, with most finding no access to social protection. Women accounted for half of all international migrants and most were subjected to abuses. Priority should be accorded to ensuring that the gender dimension was given serious attention.
He said that with many Africans living abroad in search of better living conditions, their contribution to the development process had now become significant, with the share of these countries’ gross domestic product (GDP) already rising. The loss of skilled workers was another issue that pointed to the necessity of enabling migrants to play a role in the development process of their countries. Thanking the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Global Forum on Migration and Development and other member agencies, he said the current era embarking on a process of designing the next generation of global development goals. It was imperative to ensure migration’s link to development was accorded due recognition. “Migration should be integrated in the new global development framework,” he concluded.
RODOLFO REYES RODRIZUEZ (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), emphasized the link between migration, development and human rights, and called for the creation of policies and programmes not based on origin, transit or destination. By maintaining close links to their countries and culture of origin, migrants made important economic contributions through tourism, investment and family remittances, he said, adding that those resource flows, however, did not replace foreign direct investment, official development assistance, debt relief or other public policies for development.
Stating that the contributions of migrants to the social and economic development of host countries were not fully recognized, he voiced concern for declining working conditions and fundamental rights of migrants and their families, made worse by the economic, financial and environmental crises. While recognizing that Governments had the right to draft and implement policies to regulate migrant flows towards and within their territories, CELAC regretted the adoption of laws criminalizing the act of migration and migrants with irregular status. Progress required developed nations, the largest recipients of migrants, to extend greater cooperation in designing the right policies and programmes.
KHANDKER MOSHARRAF HOSSAIN, Minister for Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment of Bangladesh, said that, for the first time last year, the World Bank acknowledged that migration was a key driver in his country’s economic and social advancement. The entrepreneurship of migrants must be assessed, both in terms of remittances and the much larger, deeper “social remittances”. Partnerships between Government and non-Government, Government and business, or origin and destination countries also must be innovative. Indeed, migration must find its deserving place in the “narrative” of the post-2015 development agenda, as well as in the national developmental discourse.
He went on to say that the global community must promote and protect migrant workers’ rights, especially of those caught in crisis. The private sector and civil society were critical to ensuring safe and dignified migration. Speaking next on behalf of the Colombo Process, he urged the inclusion of migration in national and sectoral development policies, as well as enhanced policy coherence at local, national, regional and global levels to harness the power of partnerships. To protect migrants in a holistic manner, the legislation and enforcement measures of origin countries must match those of destination States. The human rights of migrants must be met in order to realize the full benefits of migration.
JEAN-FRANCIS ZINSOU ( Benin), speaking on behalf of the least developed countries, said that in the last few years, the phenomenon of migration had grown in scope and complexity. Demographic transitions and economic crises, as well as climate change, had played a part alongside endemic poverty and social inclusion. Globalization had brought down barriers, yet the integration of a workforce and the discrimination faced by many migrants required a harmonization of efforts to, among others, give migrants the rights they deserved. A coalition should set and apply acceptable standards on their living conditions.
While multinationals benefited from operating in least developed countries, transaction costs for transferring funds rested on migrants, especially given the volume of transfers, which had climbed to $414 billion. The least developed countries had signed a memorandum of understanding this year on a pilot programme on the transfer of funds by migrants in four countries. With that in mind, migration should be examined from a humanistic standpoint and global partnerships should grow, in order to meet that objective, as well as sustainable development goals. In examining some of the realities of migration, he said cooperation was key and noted that the issuance of visas and passports, health care and education must be coordinated at national, regional and international levels.
KONSTANTIN ROMOANOVSKY, the Russian Federation’s Minister at the Federal Migration Services, said his country was the number two destination for international migrants, largely as a result of the end of the Soviet Union. For its part, Russia was constantly developing its migration legislation along with other necessary measures to address the issues surrounding migrants.
In recent years, there had been a rise in migration and a drop in the number of illegal migrants, which were the most vulnerable victims in society, yet more work was needed to tackle the problem of illegal migration. No one State alone was in a position to respond to migration challenges. Dialogue and cooperation were needed to address the pertinent issues. A labour confederation was being organized by Russia and partners to consider those and other related areas. In all efforts, the focus of dialogue should always be on people, he concluded.
PENDUKENI IIVULA-ITHANA, Minister for Home Affairs and Migration of Namibia, noting that one important outcome of the Rio+20 Conference was that Member States agreed to mainstream migration in their development strategies, said his country had made strides in updating the laws that governed migration, particularly in the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants. Namibia had also created an interministerial coordinating committee on migration management consisting of key State and non-State actors that was charged with the responsibility for policy development. Those measures were aimed at proving the Government with a platform to address challenges related to migration and development. The Government’s effort was driven by the realization that the link between migration and development had a potential to turn economies around.
MADJID BOUGUERRA, Minister of Maghreb and African Affairs, Algeria, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said migration issues were of particular importance for the post-2015 development agenda. The report on migration showed that there were now significant South—South migration flows, as well as the traditional South—North flows, which meant that nearly all countries were affected by migratory patterns. The movements of migrant workers had far—reaching impacts, both in their home countries and countries of destination.
In 2006, he noted, Algeria had hosted regional consultations on migration. He believed that migration should be a key international priority since it had long been part of human history and civilization and had enriched humanity. He urged a response to the flow of illegal migration, while also insisting that human rights were respected and that discriminatory and racist actions were repudiated. The multi-disciplinary nature of migration should lead to the establishment of a worldwide strategy to manage the flows. The application of international legal instruments should support such a blueprint, and international and regional efforts should play their part in its conclusion.
ALBERTO RICARDO MONDLANE, Minister for Interior of Mozambique, said that as a long—time source, transit and recipient country of migrants, Mozambique was committed to strengthening cooperation at all levels to ensure a balanced management of migration flows. Given the geographic contiguity and historic, socio—cultural and linguistic ties with other members of the Southern Africa Development Community, migration was an inevitable dynamic in the process of building economic integration. Therefore, Mozambique’s approach to migration focused on integration through increased harmonization of policies and strategies at the regional level.
He pointed out that international migration posed complex challenges and called for better protection mechanisms for migrant workers and their families, including remittance transfer, health care and safety at work. Expressing concern over the destabilizing activities of organized criminal groups and terrorists, which were increasingly undermining national borders, he emphasized that while managing migration, it was necessary to ensure a balance between development and national, subregional and global security.
FREDERICK MITCHELL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas, said his country sat in the middle of a number of source countries of “illegal migration”, with Haiti to its south and Cuba to its west. The country of destination was the United States. “The Bahamas, therefore, finds itself often in a vortex, which is not of its own making, but the consequences of which we often have to live with and to withstand,” he said, stressing that the High-level Dialogue was important to his country as, first and foremost, a means to stopping undocumented, illegal migration
Associating himself with the statement of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), he said that certain migration-related issues must inform any efforts to elaborate the post-2015 agenda. Those included addressing the root causes of migration; combating trafficking and/or smuggling of migrants; protecting migrants against human rights abuses, racism, ethnocentrism and xenophobia; improving data, especially disaggregated data, on international migration; facilitating the flow and use of remittances to support development; and strengthening dialogue and cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination. He also proposed the establishment of a permanent forum on migration and development as a final outcome of the High-level Dialogue.
EDWIN J. BATSHU, Minister for Labour and Home Affairs of Botswana, said that, before the country’s independence, its people had crossed borders in search of employment opportunities. In the post-independence period, Botswana had witnessed both the continuation of outbound migration, as well as a significant rise in inbound migration. While acknowledging the benefits brought by the two-way migration, he pointed out that the country was facing the challenges of the emigration of highly skilled workers or “brain drain” and irregular migration that negatively affected the provision of basic services.
There was need for a balanced approach in seeking ways and means of maximizing benefits of migration and minimizing its negative impact, he said, adding that his country remained open and committed to learning from the best practices and experiences of other countries. International migration should not only be addressed from an economic point of view; there also must be a more holistic approach integrating human rights and gender equality perspectives. Noting the emphasis on the role of migration in development, he expressed confidence that the outcome of the High-level Dialogue would make an important contribution to the ongoing discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.
PATRICK ABBA MORO, Minister of Internal Affairs of Nigeria, associating with the statement of the Group of 77 and China, said that the connection between international migration and development must be taken into consideration, as the former process was a key factor in the development of countries of origin, transit and destination. Nigeria recommended a holistic approach to the question of migration and stressed the need for national authorities to develop migration data and management strategies, which his country had already undertaken. Migration was an integral part of human history and progress, and a vehicle for social reconfiguration, and it provided social benefits for migrant households. In 2012, Nigeria was the fifth largest recipient of remittances through the banking sector.
He said his country was concerned about the impact of climate change and terrorism on migration. A discussion on migration, therefore, must consider that severe climate changes increased internal and external migration, thus posing substantial threat to State security. His Government stressed that migrants, regardless of their migratory status, should be treated humanely and with dignity. Human trafficking and smuggling of migrants made them vulnerable to abuses and exploitation, and Nigeria recommended that impunity be reduced through national legislation and law enforcement at the subregional, regional and international levels. His Government was planning to establish a migrant resource centre and was providing support to the “Passport to Safe Migration” project, in collaboration with the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States and with the support of Spain. Measures were also being adopted to institutionalize the “Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration” programme, which aimed to provide settlement services to returning migrants, humanitarian entrants and refugees. Migration was a “veritable tool for the eradication of poverty”, and he called for its inclusion in the post-2015 development agenda.
OUSMANI SONKO, Minister of the Interior of Gambia, said his country recognized that migration was not void of challenges. The reality of irregular migration often involved young people that risked their lives on the high seas on dilapidated boats or long treks across the desert. Gambia was concerned by the dynamic of brain drain, which made it difficult for the country to reach its Millennium Development Goals in health, education and agriculture. Brain drain also created a paradox of reverse development that forced the country to spend huge resources on foreign expertise in many areas.
The effects of migration were often most strongly felt at the individual and household levels, he said. The Gambia had initiated employment programmes to develop a skilled, versatile, dynamic and efficient workforce. In particular, some projects were designed specifically to create employment opportunities for Gambian youth that risked their lives attempting to reach developed countries. Gambia also recognized bilateral and multilateral efforts aimed at strengthening cooperation on illegal migration. It had signed agreements with a number of countries designed to reduce illegal migration and human trafficking.
TOBIAS BILLSTRÖM, Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy of Sweden, said that migrants contributed to development in many forms. The potential for even greater contribution was immense and progress should be made in addressing several issue areas. Sweden would like to see strong commitments to migration in the post-2015 agenda. The development agenda must recognize the role of migration worldwide. Governments, employers and civil society should empower migrants, particularly with regard to their fundamental human rights and ensuring that their skills were validated and recognized. Governments should also work to help migrants become better integrated into local societies by educating the general public about the migrants’ positive contributions. Countries should also facilitate the portability of migrants’ earned pension rights.
“Well-managed migration can bring mutual benefits,” he said. Sweden had actively addressed migration at the global level and provided leadership in the Global Forum on Migration and Development. Sweden was the current Chair of the Forum and agreed with the Secretary-General’s statement that the Forum was indispensible. Sweden was ready to actively contribute to bring the issue of migration to the global development agenda. “It is up to all of us. Let’s move ahead — in partnership,” he said.
SALAHELDIEN WANASI MOHAMED KHAIR, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, said migration should enjoy the same attention as development and human rights. States should also be compensated when their best workers fled abroad, including for the costs of professional training and education in the country of origin. For its part, Sudan had adopted a law on migration that had dealt with the numbers of migrants leaving or arriving for work. Over the years, it had focused on protecting migrants and had set up a council to address related issues. As his country was a transit hub for migrants, as well as a country of origin and of destination, he hoped today’s meeting would study impacts at national and international levels, especially in the light of the post-2015 development goals.
ROBERTO LEAL RAMOS MONTEIRO, Minister for the Interior of Angola, said that in today’s globalized world, there was a growing migratory movement caused mainly by political, economic and social reasons, and in many cases by armed conflict. Angola experienced a wave of emigration due to fratricidal war and an unfavourable economic climate. Peace was achieved in 2002 and Angola now enjoyed political and social stability, which had allowed for considerable economic growth that caused many Angolans to return from the diaspora. There was also an influx of migrants from other parts of the world, particularly Asia, South America, Europe, the Middle East, and other African countries. Those migrants had been useful for the country’s development, however illegal immigration was a matter of concern because of its economic, social, cultural and security consequences. Angola was therefore strengthening its migration policy, to benefit immigrants and more suitably integrate them into society. Measures would include the construction of temporary housing for illegal immigrants, opening border checkpoints, assigning identification documents to border residents, and strengthening bilateral cooperation with States and organizations. In the spirit of strengthening relations among transit and origin countries, Angola had signed bilateral and multilateral agreements on migrant issues with several countries, especially within the Southern African Development Community and Economic Community of Central African States.
MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV, Minister of Labour and Social Protection of Tajikistan, aligning with the statement of the G-77 and China, stated that his country recognized the importance of migration issues and had implemented various consistent and targeted measures aimed at regulating labour migration. In 2010, his country had developed a national strategy for labour migration abroad from the Republic of Tajikistan for the period 2010—2015. Tajikistan was also currently implementing the programme on professional training of labour migrants, which provided training on 48 professions and trades that were in demand.
Concerning the social protection of migrants, he said that his country’s report on the implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families had been considered by the Committee on Migrant Workers at its April 2012 session in Geneva. All bilateral agreements between Tajikistan and the destination countries had provisions guaranteeing social protection for migrants. Also important was the formation of regional and international mechanisms of cooperation to combat human trafficking, and his country was gradually implementing a comprehensive programme for 2011—2013.
ROSALINDA DIMAPILIS-BALDOZ, Secretary of the Department of Labour and Employment of the Philippines, said her country had pioneered a system that managed temporary contract migration that was recognized as a model by the international community. The model managed more than 10 million Filipino migrants living and working in more than 200 countries. The Philippines supported a forum that would establish a 10-year migration and development agenda for migrants, anchored on the shared set of principles of transparency and accountability, amongst others.
She stated that a post-2015 migration and development agenda should be pursued through national, bipartite and multilateral arrangements with a shared set of global objectives. Those aims should include respect for the rights of migrants; promotion of legal, ethical and orderly migration practices; attention to the gender dimension of migration and the impact on women and children; access to fast and fair complaint mechanisms and judicial remedies; mutual recognition of skills and professions; regulations on recruitment agencies; access to social benefits for migrants; established “return home” programmes; assistance to returned migrants and trafficked persons; international action against trafficking and human smuggling; and United Nations-led multilateral action for the fast and safe return of migrants caught in crisis situations.
HOUCINE JAZIRI, Tunisia’s Secretary of State for Migration and Tunisians Abroad, said the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean was a global responsibility. Supporting migrant’s contributions in developing their countries of origin, transit and receiving was critical. Continued dialogue and cooperation were needed to find solutions. Since improving living conditions of migrants and social and ecological challenges were sometimes too overwhelming for one country to deal with on its own, efforts were needed at national and international levels.
He said his country had been able to overcome its migration crises, including the 2011 influx of Libyan people. Without the international community, the Libyan crisis would have been much worse, he added, noting that refugee camps in Tunisia had closed in 2013, and his country and the region were still managing emerging crises, including illegal immigration and human trafficking. Migrants played an important role in supporting development. Tunisia had established a state department on migration and was developing legislation and a national strategy. A national observatory for migration was also being developed, he said, calling on Member States to provide institutional frameworks on migration that would reflect positively on development. Migration’s negative impacts on development included the “brain drain”, which affected his country. Efforts should be made to rectify that situation and related issues.
GRACE NALEDI MANDISA PANDOR, Minister for Home Affairs of South Africa, aligning with the Africa Group and the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that it is important to draw attention to the challenge of migration in the context of poverty. Asking how poor countries can convert migration into an opportunity for development, she wondered how developing countries that are experiencing migration in the context of poverty could be included in the debate. Concerning regular and irregular migration, she said her country is not yet at a point where it can effectively administer different forms of migration, but the partnerships it builds should help develop its national capacity to administer its population and effectively manage migration. South Africa is working with the African Union to support countries to develop national population registers and legal frameworks that support migration.
She said that South Africa is a “sending” and increasingly a “receiving” nation. Given the country’s millions of unskilled and poor nationals, it had to work hard to achieve integration and peaceful collaboration. Its migration policy emanates from its Bill of Rights, commitment to human rights and to international protocols and conventions. It is committed to ensuring the protection of migrants and to promoting respect for human rights for all. At the regional level, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol, together with those of the subregions of Africa, will contribute to a continental migration framework that incorporates migration issues and solutions unique to their various regions in a coordinated manner. South Africa has signed waiver agreements with several countries in the region reflecting its recognition of the reality of migratory movements and the need to manage them in a manner that is conducive to the growth and development of the region.
CECILIA MALMSTRÖM, Commissioner for Home Affairs, European Union delegation, said that there be tangible and forward—looking solutions on migration that benefitted all societies. It was a crucial moment as the Millennium Development Goals reached their deadline and all looked towards a post—2015 agenda. Progress had been made, but more systematic and comparable work should be done on migration and its impact on development goals. The Union believed that the migration and development agenda must be broadened to recognize all the impacts of migration. In particular, the international community should recognize that half of international migrants resided in the global South, that refugees posed specific challenges and needed targeted initiatives, and that internal mobility between rural and urban areas also resulted in unique challenges.
She said the European Union believed all States should respect the dignity and human rights of migrants, with particular attention paid to the most vulnerable, which included unaccompanied minors, children and trafficking victims. Human rights protection was a cross—cutting policy priority, and more attention should be given to help migrants caught in dire and life—threatening situations. The Global Forum on Migration and Development was a valuable platform, and it was time to increase the participation in that body of developed actors. She called on the private sector, labour organizations, academia and civil society, migrants and human rights groups in global regional, national and local arenas to work closely with States and international organizations on migration issues.
DAILIS BARAKAUSKAS, Minister of the Interior of Lithuania, aligning with the European Union as President of its Council, said the group’s member States were convinced that economic growth could be further underpinned by policies on global and intraregional labour mobility, which ensured more targeted skills development, especially in sectors where there was a shortage of trained personnel. In that context, it was necessary to consider reviewing possible barriers to mobility, in order to facilitate economic relations, prosperity and regional integration in a way that took into account the respective labour markets and security concerns. In Lithuanian’s view, regional organizations were particularly well placed to facilitate that, and their promotion of orderly, regular and safe intra-regional migration and mobility between developing countries should be supported. Also crucial was to ensure adequate protection, empowerment and decent working standards for migrant workers, and the provision of accurate information about procedures, entitlements and obligations for potential migrants as that would help reduce their vulnerability.
ARJUN BAHADUR THAPA, Foreign Secretary of Nepal, said that migration had not come into the mainstream of the development discourse, with the Millennium Development Goals bypassing it and other international goals giving it scant attention. “As the world community is at a juncture of advancing the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and framing of the post-2015 development agenda, I believe that this High-level Dialogue will be the turning point in addressing this important issue and bringing it into the mainstream process,” he said, adding that migration should be approached to bring a “win-win” situation to origin and destination countries. More effective mechanisms of cooperation and collaboration were needed at bilateral, regional and global levels.
For Nepal, where remittances from migration represented one—quarter of the gross domestic product (GDP) and about 1,500 youth had left the country for foreign employment every day, labour migration was an urgent issue, including in terms of safety and security. He called on the countries of the North to open their markets for regularized cyclical migration in a more transparent manner. Regional initiatives, such as the Colombo process and the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, were critical, he said, calling for proper functioning and strengthening of such efforts to serve the interests of both origin and destination countries. To realize an inclusive, sustainable and people-centric development approach, as envisaged in the post-2015 development framework, international migration and its contribution to development must receive adequate attention.
SIMONETTA SOMMARUGA, Minister for Justice and Police of Switzerland, said that, for a long time, hers had been a country of emigration, and, measured against its population, had today one of the highest rates of immigration worldwide. That contributed to Switzerland’s economic, social and cultural development, but the phenomenon was constantly changing and, with it, the demands it placed on States. Today, many countries were at once countries of origin, transit and destination. However, with commonalties in the area of migration shared across countries and continents, opportunities existed for cooperation. Switzerland had forged bilateral partnerships on migration and, through regular dialogue, carried out joint projects to find solutions to both “regular” and “irregular” migration. With the Berne Initiative in 2004, the country had taken the first step in a continuous effort to foster open dialogue on migration. In connection with the Secretary-General’s eight-point agenda for action, her country was determined to put an end to human trafficking and would work for the integration of migration in all relevant fields of the post-2015 development agenda. It also endorsed the Secretary-General’s call for better protection of migrants’ human rights.
JOANG FELIX MOLAPO, Minister for Home Affairs of Lesotho, said that mobility was recognized not only as a problem, but also as an integral part of development that presented opportunities, as well as trade-offs and costs. Migration had become multi-directional, so countries to the north and south faced the same challenges. His country’s geographical position had exposed it to a number of issues of concern, including the loss of a significant proportion of its labour force to South Africa as migrant workers. Furthermore, his country was among the top three recipients of remittances in the world.
He said that Lesotho had lost some of its best and brightest in other sectors due to migration and that strategies should be devised that enhanced the benefits of migration for migrants and countries of origin and destination alike. Lesotho had drafted a comprehensive policy addressing many issues relevant to the migration and development discourse in the country.
ABDELOUAHAD SOUHAIL, Minister for Employment and Vocational Training of Morocco, said that with the number of migrants having grown worldwide from 155 million in 1990 to 214 million in 2010, evidence showed that migration had contributed economically to countries of both origin and destination. New South-South migration had also grown. Morocco had addressed its people working abroad and migrants arriving for work through a variety of ways. Keeping in mind that migration should have a humanistic focus, his country had developed guidelines and a plan of action and was working on related issues, including human trafficking. It was important to remember that refugees and migrants needed special attention when addressing the Millennium Development Goals.
While debate on migration had become more structured, dialogue was not enough and there must be a concrete arm for implementation. This dialogue was an opportunity to bring the issue into the post-2015 development arena. Two days ago, the African Alliance launch was a way to enhance the dialogue, he said, underscoring the urgent need for concerted action. The twentieth century was about moving goods and services, and this century was about the movement of people, he concluded, emphasising that judicious and fruitful international cooperation would allow the world to build a better future for all.
OSMAN SALEH MOHAMMED, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, associating his Government with the statement delivered by Fiji on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and noting that the world had become increasingly interconnected and interdependent, called on addressing international migration in a way that it became a positive force for the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals. He called for coordinated policies to ensure safe, orderly and legal migration and emphasized respecting the basic rights of migrants, allowing them to live in dignity and security.
Stating that many migrants fell prey to death, abuse, violence, exploitation and organized criminal elements, he stressed the need for greater international action to combat these perils. Migrants’ access to education, training and decent work should be guaranteed and the reintegration of returnees ensured. Citing Eritrea’s progress in the field, he said: “Closer international cooperation aimed at enhancing the contribution of migrants to development is needed today more than any time before.”
ANNE RICHARD, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration of the United States, acknowledging Mexico’s efforts to find constructive solutions to the issue of migration, said that the focus of the High-level meeting should be on finding concrete outcomes rather than on discussing procedural issues. She highlighted three areas of concern, including migrants and crisis; human trafficking; and migration and development, pointing out that the 2011 events in Libya and the 2012 tsunami in Japan had shown that migrants were often trapped in crisis situations for reasons outside of their control.
She also said that human trafficking was a priority for the Obama Administration, as it had been for previous ones. “Victims of human trafficking should not be penalized as criminals,” but rather, be helped to move forward with their life, she stated. She urged countries to ratify the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols and to promote its implementation for those countries that had already done so. Turning to migration and development, she said it was important to further reduce the cost associated with remittances to achieve the 5 per cent benchmark.
MERCEDES DEL CARMEN GUILLÉN VICENTE, Vice-Minister for Population, Migration and Religious Affairs of Mexico, said that her country was addressing the cross-cutting nature of migration through different measures, noting that the challenges surrounding migration came out of the specific needs of the people and the different types of flows of migrants. Migration issues created a difficult and broad task in Mexico, particularly as the country had seen a substantial increase in individuals moving through Mexico, as well as irregular immigration.
She went on to say that another challenge for Mexico came from vulnerable migrants that were in need of additional services. In addition, there had been a significant increase in the number of Mexicans returning back to the country, resulting in a net migration of nearly zero. The common effort to link migration and development required that the international community increase its human rights-based approach to ensure a greater level of dignity for migrants.
ABDELOUAHED SOUHAIL, Minister for Employment and Vocation Training, Indonesia, said migration contributed to the development of both countries of origin and destination. Some 4.5 million Indonesian citizens now lived as migrant workers overseas. Despite positive impacts, migration, if not managed properly, posed challenges and had potentially negative impacts. For illegal migrants, while there were benefits, they were also vulnerable to possible abuse, exploitation and discrimination. Migrants’ contributions to development should be recognized, and the mindset of countries of destination should be changed to ensure they treated migrants as equals. Migrants also should respect and abide by the rules and regulations of destination countries.
He said that civil society had an important role in addressing challenges posed by international migration. Indonesia was concerned by its low-skilled workers in informal sectors, particularly women. At the national level, Indonesia had ratified and implemented the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and called on other countries to do so. Indonesia welcomed today’s adoption of the declaration and encouraged stronger partnership in the management of international migration.
LUBOMÍR METNAR, First Deputy Minister of the Interior, Czech Republic, said that, as a destination for migrants, his country greatly valued their contribution to cultural diversity. Increased migration had also posed challenges, requiring new structures and legislation. His Government had put in place integration strategies for legal migrants and was cooperating with origin countries, as an integral part of building a new migration system. He urged intensive cooperation and a “partnership approach” to manage migration among countries of origin, transit and destination — as outlined in consultative processes, such as the Prague Process. Practical solutions to migration were most effective when implemented at regional and local levels.
ALI BIN FAHAD AL-HAJRI, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, said that addressing migration issues was a common responsibility of countries of source and destination and required a balanced approach. He outlined the efforts taken in his country to ensure migrants enjoyed equal rights. That had including the signing international treaties, as well as of bilateral agreements with source countries to safeguard the labour rights of migrant workers. Recalling that the Arab States had been actively participating in regional and international consultations, he stressed the role of regional communities in international migration management. He was concerned about the increasing number of refugees and internally displaced persons in certain Arab countries, owing to conflicts or long-time occupation. Migration, he added, was not only an economic or humanitarian issue, but also a political one.
JUAN JOSÉ GARCÍA, Vice-Minister for Exterior Relations for Salvadorans Abroad of El Salvador, said that migration was as old as humanity itself, but only recently it had started to be considered a challenge. The migration of people from Central American countries, particularly Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, had been called “explosive”. Thirty per cent of the Salvadoran population, 2.9 million people, resided abroad; 2.5 million of them were in the United States. Due to its magnitude and persistence, international migration could be now considered a “structural phenomenon”. Echoing other speakers, he touched upon issues such as the connection between migration and remittances, which played a crucial role for countries’ GDP; the need to respect migrants’ rights, irrespective of their legal status; and the relation between the diaspora and the country of origin, for which a change of shift from “brain drain” to “brain gain” was needed. When coordinating the work of institutions involved, the inclusion of migrants was also crucial.
ARNALDO BROWN, Minister of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, said his country had, since 2006, demonstrated its commitment to optimizing the benefits of migration while minimizing it challenges. The Government had made every effort to include these and other related issues in deliberations at the national level and to identify strategies that would make migration work for countries of origin, destination and transit and for the migrants themselves. Among those actions were protecting human rights and integrating migration into the development agenda.
Jamaica’s national policy and plan of action on international migration and development addressed a range of challenges and opportunities and was meant to manage migration more effectively while harnessing its positive impacts, he said. Migration contributed to the three pillars of sustainable development and migrants were potential agents of development who were well positioned to strengthen cooperation between countries of origin and destination. “Global migration and development perspectives should be ‘people-friendly’, enabling countries of origin, destination and the migrants themselves to share equitably the benefits of migration,” he said, adding that efforts should be made to reduce the transfer costs of remittances to let workers and their families keep more of the money they earned. Best practices relating to diasporas should be shared among countries. He hoped this dialogue would address common concerns. The “brain drain” needed to be transformed into a “brain gain”.
VALENTIN RYBAKOV, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said his country had enacted a new law on external migration protecting individuals and ensuring their equal rights. A national programme aimed to address migration with a view to development. Like other countries, Belarus faced the “brain drain”, which could be addressed through national measures to improve social and economic conditions. In addition, partnerships with destination countries would help address this issue.
Belarus had drafted policies that would, among other things, eliminate the need for work permits for certain professions, he said. This year, with support from the Russian Federation, Belarus hosted a meeting to help prevent illegal migration and human trafficking. His country welcomed the role of the United Nations and he was pleased that migration was receiving attention in many of the Organization’s agencies, including UNICEF and UNDP. Other actors should play a stronger role in policymaking and other areas, and he hoped this dialogue would address those and other issues.
FREDDY MONTERO, Vice-Minister of Interior, Costa Rica, said his country was encouraged by the dialogue taking place at this high-level meeting. Costa Rica was a top country of destination for many migrants in Central America, and the country’s culture had been enriched by their inputs. It was determined to respect migrants’ human rights and offer them access to many social services. However, it was restrained by a lack of resources. He called on the international community to dedicate more to help middle-income countries, such as Costa Rica, to ensure that migration and development progressed simultaneously. Governments should develop public polices that eliminated discrimination against migrants and protected the most vulnerable migrants, as well as ensured that they did not fall victim to crimes, particularly trafficking. He urged close coordination with all actors and a strengthening of existing institutions, while listening to the voices of civil society, as well as those of the migrants themselves.
HEIKKI EIDSVOLL HOLMÅS, Minister for International Development of Norway, said that during the mass migration from Europe in the mid-nineteenth century, more than a quarter of Norway’s population had left poverty and hardship behind in favour of a better life. Most of the Norwegian migrants had gone to the United States, where they had participated in building a modern and prosperous nation and where today their descendants continued to work hard and contribute to American society. Since that mass exodus, Norway had developed into an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country with one of the highest per capita immigration rates. More than two thirds of its population growth was due to immigration and, today, it depended on them for developing many areas of its industry and for the provision of services. Confident that human mobility could be a key driver of human progress and development, he said that migration had brought opportunities, but also challenges and risks.
Encouraging appropriate and coherent policies to ensure that migration became a better tool for poverty eradication, he highlighted in particular measures for safe, human and orderly migration; mechanisms for protecting migrants during times of environmental disasters and crises; and measures to help their integration into their new host communities, with particular attention to women and children. Norway had engaged in a wide range of efforts to combat people smuggling and considered in its policies how unaccompanied minors and female migrants were received and integrated into society, and the barriers female migrants encountered when trying to enter the labour market. Also, Norway and Switzerland had pioneered the Nansen Initiative, which gathered information on protection needs of people displaced by natural disasters and climate change. Noting that migrants’ remittances were an invaluable tool in reducing poverty, he said a Norwegian website, dedicated to providing advice on money transfers, had been certified by the World Bank in 2012. It aimed to help immigrants identify the cheapest method for money transfers to their families back home, so that more money could be spent on health, education and livelihoods.
BAKTYBEK ISAKOV, Deputy Minister of Labour, Migration and Youth, Kyrgyzstan, said that one fifth of its population was engaged in labour in the near and far abroad. Preventing forced labour was a serious concern for his country, and he called for greater efforts to combat that phenomenon. Targeted training programmes for migrants were needed, and it must be remembered that the remittances sent home by migrants had a positive effect on developing countries and were crucial for the welfare of many families. Kyrgyzstan had adopted a national strategy for sustainable development, including a streamlined State policy on migration. The need to regulate migration trends had resulted in the creation of a new migration policy through 2020. The international community agreed that migration helped to achieve development goals and that it needed to work together to ensure it carried through to the post-2015 agenda.
BERTA SIMONNÉ, Deputy State Secretary for the European Union and International Relations, Hungary, said that migration connected the world and helped its inhabitants work towards a better future. Migration had many faces and, thus, required a multifaceted approach. Hungary was committed to mutual cooperation with States and other actors. The Budapest Process celebrated its twentieth birthday this year and established the Silk Routes Partnership for Migration. That platform will focus on many aspects of migration from legal to irregular migration, to human trafficking and international protection issues. Hungary was convinced that those platforms could fully address migration issues. All States should pay particular attention to trafficking victims, she said, urging them to adhere to the United Nations Conventions on Statelessness for a more humane and rights-driven management of migration.
JEONG DONGMIN, Commissioner of the Korea Immigration Service, Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Korea, said that his country had become a destination country and, as such, the Government had reformed its immigration policy. This year’s new legislation emphasized human rights and cooperation, and centred on migration and development. The Republic of Korea recognized that the cause of migration was strongly related to development. His country continued to strive for policy coherence for the issues surrounding migration and development. As part of pursuit of its basic plan for migration, it was finding ways to link official development assistance with projects to nurture human resources in developing countries.
PAULO ABRÃO PIRES JUNIOR, National Secretary of Justice of Brazil, said his country’s history and social plurality were landmarks to its migration flows. The Government was in a period of reflection on its attitude towards migration, and policies should be based on a concept of development grounded in the consideration of three current challenges: upgrading national laws, coordinating institutions between all levels of Government and establishing a commitment to engage in social issues, programmes and initiatives.
He said that the human rights of migrants and conducive conditions for their effective integration were pivotal to the promotion of national policies, regional cooperation strategies and adherence to international mechanisms. Brazil had sponsored recent efforts in extending the rights of residence for Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) migrants and, this year, it had engaged in projects aimed at improving protective actions in the area of forced displacement. Steps had also been taken to officially relocate IOM in Brazil.
JULIO CESAR ARRIOLA, Vice-Minister for Administrative Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, said migrants were agents of development. His country’s history showed that migrants had bolstered development. He encouraged strengthening of mechanisms to protect migrants and their families, and felt that Governments should protect the rights of all migrants, especially women, who made up half of all international migrants.
He said that lawful practices should be a focus of attention. A total of 47 States had ratified the International Migration Convention and he urged all States to follow suit. A holistic approach to addressing migration issues was needed to examine its relationship to development. The Global Forum required a methodological review of the participation of all countries. A binding, standard-setting instrument would reflect States’ genuine commitment.
JACQUES RAMIREZ, Adviser of the Minister for Migration and Human Mobility of Ecuador, said despite differences in policy approaches in the North and South, dialogue was the way forward to finding solutions that would address a range of social and economic issues of migration. Migrants’ rights were at the centre. Most migrants were from countries devastated by violence or conflict. In the country of destination, migrants took jobs from locals and used social services, but their role in generating income in those countries was often ignored.
He said that migration had been dealt with in a cross-cutting broad-based manner. Approaches must consider social issues and be holistic in nature. He urged the main countries of destination to form programmes that regularized migration. A new world economic order was needed that considered the democratization of the international system, the reduction of social inequalities and the equal economic opportunities between countries. With political will, a new world could be made, he concluded.
ELIZABETH TICHY-FISSLBERGER (Austria), aligning his Government with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said discussions on the post-2015 development had triggered new interest in how migration could be harnessed to achieve better development. More thorough work and analysis were needed to get a clearer picture of how migration and development influenced each other. He urged the High-level Dialogue to provide an impetus for substantial discussions and effective follow-up. A human rights’ perspective and a multidisciplinary approach encompassing prevention, protection and prosecution guided Austria’s activities related to human trafficking. Without tackling the underlying causes, efforts to combat human trafficking would remain a fight against its symptoms. He called for enhanced education, training and data collection to address myths and misperceptions on migration, adding that public awareness of the importance of the money migrants sent back to their national economies had increased.
WENDY SOUTHERN, Deputy Secretary, Department of Immigration and Border Protection of Australia, said 60 per cent of her country’s population growth stemmed from net overseas migration. Australia’s migration programmes aimed to create targeted, orderly and safe migration paths. Opportunities to work in the country could provide access to higher incomes and, to optimise such benefits, Australia had engaged the Group of 20 on reducing the costs of remittances.
Other programmes, she said, ensured that migrants were best prepared for their new environment and that communities were ready with support services. Australia was encouraged by the State-led initiative on “migrants in crisis” and would engage as it progressed. Regional cooperation provided enduring solutions to the challenges of mixed migration flows, among other issues, and she emphasized, in that regard, the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime.
RUTH ANNUS, Head of Migration and Border Policy with the Ministry of Interior of Estonia, aligning with the statement by the European Union, said that human mobility was a key factor for sustainable development that should be adequately considered in forming the sustainable development goals. Positive implications of migration, such as contributions to economic development, innovation, trade and investment should be encouraged, while the negative aspects of forced migration should be tackled at the root in the countries of origin. Every country was responsible for protecting human rights and providing services to everyone to stay within its respective borders. Further, international labour standards must be protected and promoted. Efforts must be made to prevent discrimination against migrants and to improve public perceptions of migrants and migration. Noting the need for cheaper, faster and safer transfers of remittances, she pointed to TransferWise, a company established by young Estonian entrepreneurs as one way to tackle the challenge. The international community must make coordinated efforts to assist migrants in vulnerable situations, such as Syrian refugees fleeing humanitarian crises, as close as possible to their home countries.
SAKIR FAKIH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, said his country had decided to take on the challenging task of chairing the Global Forum on Migration and Development in 2015, not only because of Turkey’s increasing significance in the area of migration, but also because of its increasing commitment to development. As part of its contributions, Turkey’s concentration would include, among others, promoting mobility, by “bringing down” such obstacles as visas and similar barriers; ensuring migrants’ human rights and cooperation in combating illegal migration; and creating international mechanisms to secure transfers of social security benefits.
He said that recognition was the fundamental need of all migrants. With that, migrants could access basic services, such as health, education and social security, and better integrate and contribute to their host communities, as well as to their own. All aspects of migration at the national, regional and global levels were interlinked and could not be addressed in isolation. The “Istanbul Ministerial Declaration on a Silk Routes Partnership for Migration”, adopted at the fifth Ministerial Conference of the Budapest Process on 19 April, aimed to strengthen the positive impact of migration on development, both in countries of origin and of destination, and had been referred to as one of the most balanced and far-reaching documents in the field, as it was adopted by such a wide range of countries. A broad spectrum of activities was envisaged in the Declaration, such as mainstreaming migration into development planning; promoting sustainable, comprehensive, balanced and efficient policies on migration and development; and developing and strengthening small- and medium-migrant entrepreneurship.
PETER STORR, Director of International Relation in the Ministry of the Interior, United Kingdom, said discussions should more fully reflect the fact that less than half of international migration was now from developing to developed countries. The case had not been made to include a post-2015 goal on migration, given the risk of diluting the focus on extreme poverty. The High-level Dialogue should be measured in its recommendations in the area. “Ultimately, our aim should not be enhancing the links between migration and development per se, but enhancing effective action to deliver on partner countries’ development priorities,” he said. Stating that his country’s points-based system managed labour migration in a way that met market needs, he underlined the importance of returns and reintegration in an effective migration policy. While seizing the opportunity to enhance the benefits of migration by managing it properly, efforts should be made to address its negative aspects, such as human trafficking, and ensure that migration policies created a “win-win” situation for all.
JEAN-MARC CHÂTAIGNER, Deputy General Director for Globalization at the Foreign Ministry of France, said that migration had undeniably contributed to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, as remittances allowed money to be invested and employment to be created. At the same time, social protection must be ensured. As a challenge, South-South migration affected the development of countries whose resources were already limited. He also made reference to the tragic events that occurred this morning close to the Italian island of Lampedusa. French policies for migration and development had the common thread of building partnerships with diaspora organizations, the authorities of the country of origin, the private sector and civil society. The policies were based on, among others, international dialogue, awareness-raising and support for the investment potential of migrants.
He highlighted an agreement with Senegal to, among others, co-finance projects of local development by mobilizing high-qualified diaspora. Since 2009, 92 such projects had been implemented. France hoped for full recognition of the role of migrants in the development of their country of origin. The question should be included as a targeted goal in the post-2015 development agenda. France, like other European Union members, was convinced that migrants’ rights should be defended and given a priority, regardless of a migrant’s status. Human trafficking was a gross violation of human rights and must be combated. The situation of migrants caught into crises was cause for concern and, thus, France had welcomed the action undertaken by IOM in Libya, Somalia, Mali and Syria.
ESHAGH AL HABIB, Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, said economic, social, demographic, political and environmental factors should be considered in assessing the effects of migration on sustainable development and the priorities of the post-2015 development framework. The negative impacts of the global financial crises on migrants should be mitigated through national mechanisms and international cooperation. The global community should enforce measures to prevent, combat and eliminate all forms of trafficking in persons. Many developing countries were losing skilled human resources, he added.
More broadly, he urged a holistic and balanced approach towards migration policies at international and national levels. Destination States should avoid limiting contacts between migrants and origin countries, as such contact could foster skills and knowledge transfer. He also urged addressing, at national and international levels, unfair obstacles to remittance flows in developed countries. Iran, for its part, managed a programme with IOM that fostered the return and reintegration of Afghan nationals from Iran to Afghanistan. In sum, he said migrants’ communications and transactions with their countries of origin should not be restricted by destination countries.
CATRINA TAPLEY, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Citizenship and Immigration of Canada, said her country was keen to support initiatives related to migration and development that had the potential to yield tangible benefits for migrants and countries alike. A key challenge to maximizing the benefits of labour mobility was the need to lower recruitment costs, and combat abusive and exploitative practices, such as charging excessive fees. Canada was interested in exploring further, with partners, innovative approaches that complemented and strengthened the efforts of Governments to ensure safe and orderly labour migration and the protection of the human and labour rights of migrants, including ethical recruitment practices. The issue of remittances was important to her country, and as such, Canada would continue to work with the Group of 20 to consider innovative results-based mechanisms to further reduce the cost of transferring remittances to developing countries.
SALAMAT AMANBAYEV, Chairman of the Committee on Migration for the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Kazakhstan, said that his country had taken several measures to regulate migration policies, particularly labour migration. Kazakhstan was encouraging the creation of small businesses and was promoting entrepreneurship, as most migrants ended up working in the private sector. In fact, a new term had been coined: “business migrants”, and new laws included provisions on them with the aim of attracting foreign workers. Since 2007, Members of the Commonwealth of Independent States were cooperating on having a unified labour migration system and his country had recently signed an agreement, which foresees the creation of a joint economic space for Commonwealth countries. On the administrative front, Kazakhstan was working intensively to issue work permits for migrants. The continuous support of the United Nations and IOM was highly appreciated, he concluded.
GAGIK YEGANYAN, Head of the State Migration Service of Armenia, said that eight migration projects, with a total cost of $9 million, had been implemented in Armenia with the European States, on both bilateral and multilateral cooperation platforms. He placed great importance on the reintegration of migrants returning to Armenia, saying that the Armenian diaspora was a unique phenomenon, since more than two thirds of Armenians resided outside the country, with Armenian communities present in almost every other nation, as a result of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. In the last 20 years, the diaspora was further “enriched” with the emigration of Armenians leaving the country, owing to socioeconomic hardships that resulted from the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Measures targeting return and reintegration would be more effective if the international community took a more active role in implementing return projects for “highly qualified specialists” residing outside their countries of origin, and by creating conditions for directing migrant transfers to the real sectors of economy. He also encouraged broad application of circular migration schemes.
JAVIER CARRILLO, Director for the National Migration Authority of Panama, expressed his condolences to the families and countries of those who had lost their loved ones in today’s accident off the Italian island of Lampedusa. Policies must be implemented in order to guarantee migrants’ rights, he said. He defined his country’s approach to migration as “humanist” and focused on the administrative efforts of his Government to extend the length of a range of visas and work permits. Visas for temporary workers, for example, had been extended from six months to one year, with the possibility of a further renewal of up to five years. Such permits regularized migration status, granting, among other things, the reunification of families and legal residents. Since the launch of the migration initiative “ Panama, Melting Pot of Races”, started in 2010, 35,000 foreigners from 80 different countries had, in fact, normalized their migratory status. Panama aimed at improving the quality of life of migrants, thus leaving a legacy of social stability, he concluded.
FRANCISCO PÉREZ WALKER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, said that his country, as a middle-income nation with a per capita GDP of around $16,000, had become an emerging magnet for migrants in recent years. It had changed from a country of origin to one that met the dual nature of both a country of origin and destination. In that light, Chile had sought to address the challenges and opportunities of migration, incorporating migration issues and the needs of migrants in the Government’s agenda. Further, it had implemented procedures for regularization of migrants and promoted legal initiatives to update and modernize the country’s immigration law. The National Congress was discussing the new Immigration Act, which sought, through the creation of a Board of Immigration Policy and a Migration Division, to update the legal framework.
At the international level, he said Chile had actively participated in the meetings of the Global Forum on Migration and Development and had chaired the High-level Dialogue between the Community of Caribbean and Latin American States and the European Union on Migration, to galvanize support for the migration challenges between the two regions. The first Migration Statistical Digest between CELAC and the European Union was a product of that collaboration. Regionally, Chile had chaired the South American Conference on Migration and had hosted the second and twelfth meetings of that regional consultation process, the results of which were embodied in the Declaration of Buenos Aires, which expressed the position of South American countries on the treatment and monitoring of migration and global governance.
VICTOR LUTENCO, Head of the Bureau for Relations with the Diaspora, Republic of Moldova, said his was the pilot country in implementing the European Union-Moldova Mobility Partnership. That collaboration proved to be the key element for enhanced sustainable development, as it consolidated the efforts of all actors. In five years, the Mobility Partnership featured 89 projects and initiatives, most with a direct positive impact on prospective and current migrants, as well as returnees. His country had also completed its first Extended Migration Profile, following periodic household surveys and close cooperation with destination countries to monitor and manage migration flows. Migration was a high priority on the development agenda of his country, which had established a Diaspora Relations Bureau with programmes aimed at everything from second generation migrants to students abroad to cultural heritage programmes. The Government also established more than 20 bilateral agreements that dealt with issues such as social protection, mutual humanitarian assistance and respect for human rights.
PETER WIREDU, Acting Director of Immigration of Ghana, said migrants had a great role in the histories of great nations. Ghana was committed to issues discussed at this meeting, including combating human trafficking. His country was focused on protecting the interests and welfare of its citizens abroad and had established a diaspora support unit, coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to mainstream the diaspora into national development.
He said that migration could be a positive force in development provided that it was supported by the right set of policies. Efforts had been deployed to establish an institutional framework on migration to, among other things, build a database for better migration management. In pursuit of those ideas, Ghana was working on a draft migration policy that would be submitted to Parliament. His country was ready to partner with the United Nations, the IOM and other groups to continue to address migration issues.
NISSANKA N. WIJERATNE, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare of Sri Lanka, aligning with the Group of 77 and China, said that circular employment migration was a crucial phenomenon with an estimated 1.7 million citizens, 21 per cent of the active labour force, employed as overseas contract workers. In 2012, remittances amounted to 35 per cent of foreign exchange earnings. Those earnings flowed to the most remote areas of the country and were effective in alleviating poverty. As 49 per cent of those workers were women, protection of female migrant workers and their children left behind was at the core of the country’s migration policy. Sri Lanka established an island-wide association of migrant workers’ families to look into their welfare needs. Efforts were under way to prepare skilled workers for the overseas market. Sri Lanka would host International Youth Day 2013, under the theme “Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward”. The conference would focus on how to mainstream the youth perspective in internationally agreed development goals.
Simultaneously with the High-level Dialogue, the Assembly held two interactive round-table discussions.
Round Table I
The round-table discussion on “Assessing the effects of international migration on sustainable development and indentifying relevant priorities in view of the preparation of the post-2015 development framework”, was divided into two parts.
Chairing the first segment was Rita Claverie de Sciolli, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala. It featured the following panellists: Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner of the European Commission in charge of Home Affairs; Arnaldo Brown, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica; and Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Ms. SCIOLLI, speaking in her national capacity, emphasized the need to design public policy and social infrastructure that would prevent migration. Guatemala had seen tens of thousands of its nationals emigrating due to the lack of development in their own country. The national coffee industry had lost 200,000 jobs when the product price had dropped considerably. Due to lack of employment opportunities, a large number of people had moved to the United States. Migration was a complex issue requiring a holistic approach, she said, stressing the need for migration to be reflected in the post-2015 development agenda.
Ms. MALMSTRÖM recounted her experience of tackling a scarcity of medical professionals in Sweden and described how migration could provide a solution. A wider search for talent had found 978 skilled doctors and nurses working as taxi-drivers and in other jobs. “We must shift gear and unleash the potential of migration,” she said, emphasizing the need to remove barriers to human mobility, such as cumbersome legal procedures, documentation, as well as the high social and economic costs of migration. It was also important to ensure that migrants could take their job qualifications, social and pension benefits with them. Protecting the human rights of all migrants was a high priority, she said, urging States to ratify the relevant international conventions if they had not yet done so. There was a need to counter anti-immigration policies, racism and xenophobia, which undermined the rights of migrants. All stakeholders could contribute, including academia, which could dismantle myths about migrants, and the media, which could give them a voice.
Mr. BROWN said globalization and changing demographics were giving rise to a new world order that required fundamental shifts. International migration had always been seen among developed and developing countries as non-beneficial and negative, while opening the country’s borders was perceived as opening up to crime and chaos. Globalization had created the conditions for transformation in the movement of capital and goods, he said. National and international policies had adapted to that change, but issues relating to the movement of labour had not. National laws and practices still worked within the old paradigm, he said. He also emphasized that developing countries had experienced a “demographic bonus” — an excess of working-age population. International migration must be orderly to advance sustainable development, and failure to ensure order could result in unmanageable competition for work among migrants.
Ms. CLARK, speaking on behalf of the United Nations Development Group, underlined new technologies, cultural exchanges and cheaper transportation facilitated migration, which had increased exponentially since 2000. Many people had fled from wars, violence and the effects of climate change, which had made it impossible for them to live in their country of origin, which in turn, had exacerbated the global competition for talent. According to the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) “million voice” report as well as that of the high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda, migration could increase development. It should, however, operate under the rule of law to protect the rights of migrants, as orderly migration could be beneficial to both origin and destination countries. Making remittance less costly, in addition to developing strong laws on money laundering and terrorism would help development, she said.
When the floor was opened for discussion, the representative of Sweden said the Dialogue offered a unique opportunity to make progress by calling for the inclusion of migration in the post-2015 development agenda as an enabler of development and an issue for global partnerships. Sweden called on the Secretary-General, through his Special Representative on International Migration and Development, to explore how migration could be highlighted in the post-2015 framework. As Chair of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, the Swedish delegation had made it a priority to do the same.
A senior official of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) noted that migration was a catalyst for development, providing benefits to both origin and destination countries. But “migration unfortunately does not win votes”, he pointed out, stressing that its success depended on policies that would promote and protect the human rights of all migrants, reduce the social and economic costs of migration, and expand opportunities for migrants at home and abroad.
The representative of the International Trade Union Confederation of Nepal said that if migration and related issues were not addressed, the post-2015 development agenda would not work. She urged respect for the rights of women engaged in private, public and domestic work, whether they were documented or not. She also called for social security schemes to ensure protection for migrants. Destination countries should guarantee trade union participation and other services on the basis of rights for decent work, such as protection from sexual harassment.
Ms. CLARK welcomed the Dialogue, saying it was “bringing discussions on development and migration out of shadow”. The working group on financing for development must address migration, especially in relation to remittances, emphasizing that United Nations Development Group could support Member States in promoting global partnerships to maximize the benefits of migration.
Ms. MALMSTRÖM applauded the clear goal of giving greater prominence to migration, but urged Member States to “make concrete decisions back at home” by exploring ways to make skills portable and by forging social and political consensus on migration, especially in light of recent xenophobic movements.
Mr. BROWN called for the mutual recognition of university accreditation to avoid underemployment.
The representative of Ecuador proposed “universal citizenship”, by which migrants would have rights in both origin and destination countries.
The representative of Italy said his country’s strategy on migration followed the European Union Global Approach to Migration and Mobility, which underlined the need for a migrant-centred approach as the basis for cooperation.
The representatives of Sudan and Costa Rica also spoke, as did a senior official of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Chairing the second part of the round table was Heikki Holmås, Minister for International Development of Norway. It featured two panellists: Peter Sutherland, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration; and Ndidi Njoku, Founder and Director of Markets4Development, representing civil society.
Mr. SUTHERLAND said he recognized the remarkable spirit of migrants, describing them as a “natural resource” being squandered through discrimination. Migrants were a positive force when the right policy was in place, but decades ago, migration had been seen as a failure of development. Its positive contributions had now begun to be understood, and over the past year, a working group had gathered evidence of the positive contributions made by migrants. A striking finding was that human traffickers, employers and money-transfer businesses took billions of dollars from migrants. That was not just exploitation, but trampling on their basic human rights, which Governments had failed to address, he said.
Ms. NJOKU expressed worry that the post-2015 preparatory report by the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons marginalized migrants and diasporas after they had been ignored in the Millennium Development Goals. It made no substantive reference to them, yet officials and eminent persons everywhere reiterated their undeniable importance in development. Civil society proposed listing “migrants and diasporas” as partners under the heading “Forge a New Global Partnership”, and including “international migration” among cross-cutting issues, which currently included peace, inequality, climate change, cities, young people, girls and women, and sustainable consumption and production patterns.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Germany said origin countries must recognize the contributions of migrants in building bridges, especially by developing the private sector through innovative entrepreneurship.
A senior official of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called for the protection of labour rights, emphasizing that the post-2015 development agenda must look at the working conditions of migrants, not just their remittances. About 232 million of them worked in precarious conditions, and the human rights dimension must therefore be addressed, especially because irregular immigrants had limited rights.
A senior official of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said women and young migrants ranked among the most vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, exclusion from social services and essential health care, adding that migration status should not strip them of their essential rights.
The representative of the Philippines said more than 10 million of his compatriots were living overseas, either temporarily or permanently. Migration had led to “brain drain”, but lately it was increasingly recognized as a source of remittance inflows, which accounted for nearly 11 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Remittance had been used for children’s education and investment in housing, he said, adding that the Government had crafted measures to improve the situation of migrant communities which were recognized in the national development plan.
The representative of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) stressed the importance of regional cooperation and the need to include migration as a cross-cutting issue in the post-2015 development agenda. “Migration should be a choice rather than a necessity,” he said.
The representative of the Himilo Relief and Development Association underlined the important role played of diasporas in fragile States like Somalia, where they were an invaluable financial and intellectual resource. Foreign investors were unlikely to invest in Somalia, and diaspora contributions took on even greater importance, which should be recognized in the post-2015 development framework.
Mr. SUTHERLAND urged Member States to hold similar discussions on migration at the national level, focusing on remittances, innovative recruitment and eliminating discrimination.
Ms. NJOKU supported the call for a human rights-based approach to the post-2015 development agenda, saying it should also include models and frameworks for migrant workers as well as protection from violence.
Mr. HOLMÅS underlined the need to include policies on migration at the international and national levels. Mindful of existing challenges, such as protecting the human rights of migrants and addressing irregular migration, he called for more regional partnerships on migration.
The representatives of Australia, France, Nicaragua, Switzerland, Netherlands and Canada also spoke, as did representatives of the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States and Education International.
Round Table II
The afternoon’s round table, on “Measures to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of all migrants, with particular reference to women and children, as well as to prevent and combat the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons and to ensure orderly, regular and safe migration”, was also divided into two parts.
Co-chairing both segments was Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration of the United States, and Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, Under-Secretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico. It featured the following panellists: Tobias Billström, Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy of Sweden; Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Michelle Levoy, Director, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants.
Ms. RICHARD, speaking in her national capacity, said that recent civil unrest and natural disasters were contributing vastly to the struggles of migrants, who were already caught up in the migratory crisis. International organizations were working to provide assistance to migrants in various parts of the world, including Libya and most recently in Syria and neighbouring countries. International organizations, civil society and the private sector must work together to protect the rights of all migrants and their families, she emphasized, expressing hope that the Dialogue would gather momentum that would ultimately benefit countless migrants who found themselves stranded through no fault of their own.
Mr. ROBLEDO, introducing the panel, said the fact the United States was co-chairing today’s discussion with Mexico demonstrated “how far we have come”. Human rights were inherent to every person, regardless of their migratory situation or status. He underscored the urgent need to design Government migratory policies focused on labour rights, access to health and education, and social integration. Particular attention must be paid to vulnerable groups such as women and children, who comprised 49 per cent of migration flows, often travelling alone and exposed to greater risk. Mexico had national, transnational and transcontinental migrants travelling within its borders en route from the South to the North, he said.
Mr. BILLSTRÖM said that balancing the rights of migrants with those of States, so as to regulate migration, was a challenge. States were responsible for implementing the various human rights instruments and the national legislation needed to express their aims. Children and refugees needed special attention, as did irregular migrants because they were often exposed to greater risks, including trafficking. Legal routes should be open to migrants, he said, noting that Sweden’s system aimed to give immigrants equal rights to citizens in the labour market and in social protection schemes. Immigrants could transition to resident status and eventually citizenship, he said, stressing that high- and low-skilled migrants must be treated identically.
Ms. PILLAY noted that a country consisting of all the world’s migrants would be the fifth most populous in the world, yet they remained invisible and silent. They were vulnerable, worked in the shadows, were denied their rights and subjected to discrimination and marginalization. The lack of regular channels open to migrants pushed them into irregular migration patterns, including those run by smugglers. Bad habits were rife in national policymaking on migration, working to the detriment of migrants and States, she said, citing harsh border controls that exposed migrants to violence, but did not reduce their numbers. A paradigm shift to policies based on human rights was needed. Human rights were not charitably given, but universal and guaranteed, she pointed out, stressing that States were obliged to fulfil their obligations through legislation. The United Nations took a human rights-based approach and its treaties and supervisory mechanisms were vital to building the normative framework through which States could incorporate human rights into their own policies.
Ms. LEVOY said women must be seen as agents of change rather than victims. Workers’ rights and labour policy must be gender-sensitive and applicable to all women, regardless of their migration status. Policy must also focus on low-wage labour, not just highly skilled labour. States must establish centres housing women who experienced gender-based violence because undocumented women were less likely to report crimes committed against them. Child rights were absent in many migration practices, yet children faced restriction on services and justice due to parental absence and discrimination, she said, reiterating the need for a firewall to separate immigration authorities from those providing services. Unaccompanied children were subject to deportation and separation from their parents, which not only had a negative impact on family life, but also limited the development of communities and societies at large. Family-reunification policy should enable children left behind to join their families, she said.
A senior representative of Botswana called for a comprehensive, integrated and balanced approach to migration and development. Botswana was safeguarding migrants’ needs while fortifying its legal infrastructure on women’s and children’s rights and on trafficking. Under the Children’s Act, adults accompanying minors must produce identification, he said, noting that even with such laws, implementation was vital to ensuring protection.
Also on children, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants said their detention was in direct violation of their rights and could never be in their best interests. He stressed the need to implement firewalls and guarantee access to justice for child migrants. States must be more creative in dealing with irregular migration, he added.
Echoing that sentiment, a representative of Save the Children said the 35 million children who were international migrants suffered rights violations. Welcoming the Dialogue’s recognition of the need to respect and protect children on the move, she said more was needed, and the tragedy off the coast of Italy underlined the need to translate words into concrete action.
A senior representative of Guatemala stressed the need to bridge the gap between discourse and Government policy. Strong Governments must ensure that the link between migration and development remained, she said, acknowledging also the need for origin, transit and destination countries to provide better opportunities. Turning to organized crime, she said migrants needed access to justice.
A representative of the International Development Law Organization said organized crime was tolerated or ignored by many States, and many migrants were subjected to abduction, murder, extrajudicial execution, sexual crimes, arbitrary detention and other forms of modern slavery. There was no coordinated response for victims between countries, she said, pointing out that inter-State organizations were the most effective means of protecting victims and ensuring justice.
A senior representative of Chile stressed that migrants could not be treated as merchandise or factors of production, filling gaps in States’ economies. Their lack of citizenship often led to a lack of rights and relegation to secondary status, as they were denied participation in the political process. The lack of ratification and implementation increased migrants’ vulnerabilities, resulting in impunity, denial of justice, discrimination, prejudice, stereotyping, racism and xenophobia.
An official of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) said migration could empower women by providing work opportunities and contribute to the development of their communities through remittances and acquired skills. However, they were often restricted to low-income jobs and poor working conditions, she said, adding that migrant women found themselves at risk of gender-based violence. Governments must ensure that legislative policy and budgets responded to the specific needs of women migrants.
Representatives of the Netherlands and Nepal also spoke, as did a representative of the African Union.
The second segment of the round table featured the following panellists: Jesus Yabes, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Philippines; Yury Fedotov, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); William Lacy Swing, Director-General, International Organization for Migration; and Najla Chahda, Director, Caritas of Lebanon.
Mr. YABES said his country had signed and ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. The Philippines advocated a human rights approach to migrants, he said, emphasizing the importance of not treating victims like criminals when they engaged in prostitution or were caught with fake documentation. They must not be punished for acts committed as trafficked persons. However, not all States were willing to grant that immunity to victims, he noted, adding that the challenge was to convince other States that a human rights approach to human trafficking would lead to more progress in source, transition and destination countries. Certain challenges must be overcome in crisis situations, particularly issues with employers and strict exit penalties. Clearly, no State could face those challenges on its own, he said, stressing that local authorities and international organizations must work together.
Mr. FEDOTOV said migrant traffickers preyed on the most vulnerable in society. Migrant smuggling led to human rights violations and various abuses, such as lack of food and water and even threats of death. Addressing inadequate protection of vulnerable populations was important, he said that, although the number of ratifications of international treaties was high, more resources were needed and work must be done to ensure their implementation. He stressed the need to prosecute smugglers and traffickers, to identify criminals and deprive them of the ability to continue their illicit activities. International law provided the tools for protecting trafficking victims, but their implementation required the commitment of States, he said.
Mr. SWING focused on efforts to address trafficking and migrants in crisis situations. Noting that anti-migrant sentiment and policies pushed migrants towards traffickers and smugglers, he said IOM had implemented many anti-trafficking schemes, but it was doubtful that they had had a significant impact. Very few prosecutions took place, and where they did, it was usually smaller-scale operators who were caught rather than bigger traffickers. IOM had worked with migrants on the Libyan border during the crisis there in 2011, when 6,000 people were crossing the border every day. It had worked to decongest the border area, returning migrants to their countries, he said, adding that he was working on an operational framework for dealing with migrants, designed to provide a better approach before, during and after crises.
Ms. CHAHDA stressed the importance of civil society actors as first responders to victims’ calls for help. They provided access to shelter, humanitarian assistance, therapy, skills building, repatriation and many other services. Efficiency required directing services and action in close partnership with all relevant actors, she said, describing how Caritas worked with migrants and Governments. Its outreach capacities, coupled with its presences across the Lebanese territory, allowed the identification of a growing number of trafficking cases, making it possible to address problems that were invisible to others. Caritas was the only organization allowed to work in Government-run immigration detention centres, and it worked closely with the Government on trafficking. Access to investigations helped it to iron out discriminatory interrogation of migrants and the inappropriate handling of sex crime cases, she said.
In the ensuing discussion, a senior representative of Lesotho stressed the need to address the stigma attached to migrants, whether their status was documented or not. Migrants were viewed as undesirables and local populations often blamed them for taking jobs away. Domestically, Lesotho had amended the 1967 Aliens Control Act with a plan to move away from trying to control migrant populations to a focus on providing them with proper documentation, he said. The greatest risk lay with those who were undocumented, he said, pointing to the increasing feminization of migration. There was a need to establish mechanisms that recognized women’s increasing role as breadwinners.
A representative of Costa Rica called for a paradigm change, saying migration policies could no longer be focused on controlling flows of people. They must be directed more towards protecting the most vulnerable. Costa Rica had made progress through the international coalition against illicit trafficking of migrants and persons, as well as several other schemes.
A representative of the International Labour Organization said migration was driven by the search for decent work and livelihoods. Preventing people from falling victim to smuggling and trafficking required a framework for legal migration that could adequately respond to changing needs for employment. Given recent figures on poverty, migration in pursuit of jobs would continue, he predicted. Concrete measures were needed to truly close gaps in migration governance, he said, calling for a global consensus on action that would respect the rights of migrant workers.
Echoing that sentiment, a representative of Hungary said most victims were in vulnerable positions because they were exploited through promises of employment opportunities rather than forceful means.
A senior representative of Tunisia expressed concern that his country was a transit stage for individuals wishing to reach Europe. With more than 10,000 people having returned from Europe, he said, the immigration flow could be reversed, a process that required review and understanding. Irregular migration strongly undermined Tunisia, especially when people died off its coast. More cohesion was needed between origin, transit and destination countries.
A speaker representing the Global Alliance against Trafficking in Women said she was concerned that people had spoken against people smuggling, conflating it with trafficking. Smuggling was different, she emphasized, adding that migrants often relied on it. She warned against driving the process underground as it would present a greater risk of being trafficked.
Also speaking were senior representatives of Colombia, Switzerland, Ecuador and Australia, as well as the European Commission.
Representatives of the Non-Governmental Organization Committee on Migration, Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration and the United Nations Children’s Fund also participated.