|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Commission on Population and Development
3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)
No Country can deal with migration issues alone, population commission told
Normative Framework Needed to Address Migration-Related
Issues Including Brain Drain, Remittances, Migrants’ Rights
With recent experiences around the world demonstrating that no country could deal with the vagaries of international migration in isolation, the international community urgently needed a normative framework to address the issue of international migration, including such pressing issues as “brain drain”, remittances and migrants’ rights, the Commission on Population and Development was told today, as it began its general debate on national experiences in international migration.
Describing Botswana’s experience, that country’s representative said the nexus between migration and development was one of the main challenges facing the international community today. As the number of international migrants grew, so had the need for a comprehensive global framework to facilitate international collaboration. As a small country of some 1.7 million people, Botswana had experienced a mixture of both good and bad in terms of migration. As his country was one of those most affected by HIV/AIDS, the migration of health-care professionals, who had been trained at cost, had severely strained Botswana’s national resources. The international community must address that issue with a greater sense of urgency and unity of purpose.
Explaining the phenomenon of brain drain, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Ghana’s Minister of the Interior and one of two keynote speakers today, said his country’s public sector health service had also suffered significant losses through external migration to the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa and the Arabian Gulf. Some 3 million Ghanaian workers lived outside Ghana, with about one third of them residing in Europe and North America. Indeed, more Ghanaian doctors worked outside Ghana than inside the country. Ghana had also lost some 50 per cent of its professional nurses. The situation in the education sector was also alarming, especially at the tertiary level where the shortage of academic, professional and research staff had left some of the universities with inexperienced and insufficient staff with low morale.
The representative of the Philippines described a similar trend in that country, noting that a large number of health professionals, including some 100,000 nurses, had, since 1994, left the Philippines to work abroad. “Push and pull” factors contributed to the brain drain phenomenon. Greater opportunities for growth, significantly higher pay, better working and living conditions abroad, continued to draw more and more Filipino health-care practitioners. In turn, the situation challenged the domestic demand for health professionals and the quality of the delivery of local health care.
Working to reduce the “crippling incoherence” of migration policy on development, the representative of Guyana, on behalf of the Rio Group, stressed the urgent need for a multilateral framework to maximize the benefits of migration and minimize its negative consequences. Several significant hurdles needed to be overcome in order to facilitate the greater mobility of people, while better optimizing the benefits of international migration for development. The most pressing included safeguarding the social, labour and human rights of immigrants regardless of their migratory status, moving from brain drain to “brain circulation” and building national capacity to manage migration systems.
Presenting a European perspective, Rita Sussmuth, President of the Ota University in Berlin and former President of the German Federal Parliament noted that Governments strove towards avoiding forming coherent migration policies. While they conducted their work in that policy area in “constant contradiction”, it was important that they unite behind the basic common principle of maximizing the benefits of migration and reducing its negative effects. Individual, national migration policy goals had much in common, in both sending and receiving countries. Governments must look beyond the surface to understand the causal relationships of migration, she added.
Statements in today’s discussion were also made by the representatives of Cuba, Belgium, United States, Canada, China, Australia, Kenya, Switzerland, Japan, El Salvador, Luxembourg, Portugal, Morocco, Croatia, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Brazil, Pakistan and Bolivia.
Representatives of the International Organization for Migration and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) also spoke.
The Chairpersons of the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on Social Development also made statements.
Hania Zlotnik, Director of the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs introduced the keynote speakers in the panel discussion.
The Commission will continue its general debate at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 5 April.
The Commission on Population and Development met this morning to continue its general discussion on follow-up actions to the recommendations of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and to begin its general debate on national experience in population matters: international migration and development. (For further information on the Commission’s session, see Press Release POP/942 of 30 March 2006.)
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said migration played an integral role in the evolution of Latin American and Caribbean society, whether in the migratory flows to the region in the colonial period or the present reversal of flows that globalization had occasioned. There were some 25 million migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2005, up from 21 million in 2000, some 13 per cent of the world total. The United States remained the favourite destination, and several Caribbean countries had as many as 20 per cent of their population abroad. Almost half of the migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean did not have proper documentation. For that reason, issues pertaining to international migration and development held special significance for the region.
From the perspective of the region, international migration presented special opportunities and challenges, he said. The Secretary-General’s report underscored the potential net benefit and economic impact of international migration for developed, as well as developing countries. A closer look at remittances was instructive. Based on figures of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the region’s share of total remittances was the largest in the world. For many countries of the region, the level of remittances was considerable, growing rapidly and accounting for at least one tenth of gross domestic product (GDP) and was, therefore, of macroeconomic significance to them. Remittances were the largest of all North-South financial flows and had the great impact on improving the situation of ordinary people and providing relief from poverty.
The ways in which remittances were used, however, could pose serious challenges for public policy, he added. Research at the regional level revealed that the impact of remittances in reducing poverty in the population as a whole was not very significant. A conservative estimate showed that it might take as many as 30 years for a country to recoup through remittances the investment it had made in human resource development. It was clear that remittances could not serve as a reliable replacement for development assistance, investment or strategies to achieve real growth in developing countries. The potential impact of remittances could be improved, however, by reducing the transfer costs of migrant remittances, facilitating their flow, increasing the percentage of remittances that flowed thorough official channels, encouraging opportunities for development-oriented investment in recipient countries and enhancing the capacity to monitor and measure such flows.
He said the Group was convinced that several significant hurdles must be surmounted to facilitate the greater mobility of people while better optimizing the benefits of international migration for development. The most pressing included safeguarding the social, labour and human rights of immigrants regardless of their migratory status, moving from “brain drain” to “brain circulation” and building national capacity to manage migration systems. The magnitude and complexity of international migration made that an arduous endeavour, since, in many instances, a single country served simultaneously as a point of origin, transit and destination. In that context, support for destination developing countries in attending to the increased demand for public services, education, health care and housing was key.
Due to their sometimes tenuous legal, socio-economic and political status, migrants’ human rights were often at risk, he continued. The protection of the well-established migrants’ rights was, therefore, a matter of urgency. The Rio Group supported the strengthening of both multilateral and bilateral arrangements to assure the protection of the rights of all migrants on a systematic basis.
More women were now leaving homes to become migrants, he said. Indeed, women now constituted more than 50 per cent of international migrants. In light of the peculiar place of women in the structure of societies and their key roles in the success of development initiatives and the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals, the increasing trend towards the feminization of international migration was an issue of deep concern for the Group. A related concern was the deep impact of brain drain, which was especially pronounced on smaller economies and on the developmental prospects of countries. The danger was real. For many countries, the continued depletion of their human capital prevented them from reaching a critical mass of human resources necessary to foster long-term economic development. The situation in many countries of the region had resulted in a human resources deficit in the health-care and education systems of some countries.
While the potential benefits of brain circulation were now well established, the Group was disappointed that the full benefits of brain circulation and return were not being realized, he said. Without doubt, the promotion of greater mobility and brain circulation was not only in the interests of sending and recipient countries and the migrant but also made good economic sense. To facilitate brain circulation, the Group supported measures including enabling the easy flow of remittances, portability of pensions and other entitlements, maintenance of linkages with the home country, encouraging cultural and language maintenance and considering dual nationality schemes. Governments needed to formulate policies better reflective of the complexity and delicacy of the realities and effects of that phenomenon. It was critical to strengthen the multilateral framework for action in maximizing the benefits and minimizing the adverse impacts of migration. In working to achieve shared objectives to reduce the crippling incoherence of migration policy on development, enhanced coordination and collaboration at all levels should be guided by the principle of shared responsibility.
ANA SILVIA RODRIGUEZ ( Cuba) said that globalization had created huge wealth, but it had also widened the gap between rich and poor and the economic disparities between countries and whole regions. That situation, together with the deterioration of the environment, wars and other phenomena, made an increasing number of people leave their homes. That result required a comprehensive approach, which took into account, not only the causes, but also the complex and positive relationship between migration and economic development. A shared responsibility existed between countries of destination and countries of origin. Also of vital importance was to establish laws that protected and guaranteed the full respect for migrants’ human rights. The international community had so far been unable to capitalize on the opportunities of migration, or to face the challenges that involved. States and other relevant stakeholders, in most cases, lacked the ability to effectively formulate and implement migration policies, and the current ones were fraught with contradictions.
She said that, in many parts of the world, migrants felt rejected, despite the fact that whole sectors of the economy depended on their contributions. States showed a lack of political will to implement the provisions of relevant instruments, and, as a consequence, millions of migrants remained victims of discrimination and abuse of all kinds. After the attacks on the “twin towers” in New York, the world witnessed discriminatory policies against migrants in developed countries, and increased instances of racism and xenophobia, where the rights of migrants and their families were assaulted. The Governments of receiving countries should invest in and promote the integration of migrants into the host societies to enable them to develop their potential and fully contribute to the societies in which they lived. Meanwhile, selective migration practices and policies stimulated a “brain theft”, which affected such sensitive sectors as health and education. While remittances were a source of financing for development, they could not solve regional or national development problems or replace official development assistance (ODA), she stressed.
JOHAN C. VERBEKE ( Belgium) said while it was necessary to realize the benefits which migration had for development, it was also important to address the structural causes of migration, in particular clandestine migration, through such things as poverty reduction, improving employment opportunities and strengthening governance. The responsibility for developing such policies rested in the first place with countries concerned, but the international community should support the efforts of those countries, especially those where migration pressure was unduly strong, to stem the structural causes of migration through, among other things, more coherent trade, agricultural and development policies.
He said his country also underlined the importance of policy coherence for development. In that regard, the European Union decided to promote it in 12 different policy areas, including migration.
Ms. KENNELLY ( United States) said that immigration had made America what it was today. The Secretary-General’s report had estimated that 20 per cent of all migrants lived in the United States. In some countries, the relevance of family reunification had declined, but in the United States, that remained a key priority. The United States, as a country founded on immigration, believed that orderly immigration could have significant impacts on development and benefit impacts on sending and receiving countries and on migrants themselves, but her Government remained extremely concerned about irregular migration. On 19 October 2005, President Bush had signed the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its two Protocols against trafficking and smuggling and had encouraged other States in the region to ratify or accede to them as well.
She commended the analysis in the Secretary-General’s report on world population and monitoring. Migration had become the major driving force for population growth in the developing world. The impact of migration flows on population trends, particularly at a time of population ageing, was of growing prominence on many national agendas. States should work to create conditions in which individuals could continue to seek education and work opportunities both in their own countries and overseas. The United States concurred with the report’s statement that regional dialogues and conferences promoted regional cooperation and coordination, and it agreed that it was the level of informality that facilitated dialogue and information exchange.
The report detailed international initiatives on migration as well, she noted. She strongly agreed that the diaspora were important instruments for promoting development, economic opportunities and social and political change in countries of origin. Countries could develop strategies to channel remittances and promote economic growth, but those policies should be strictly voluntary. States had the sovereign right to determine who could enter their territories, and those decisions should be made at the national level. The United States’ contribution of $3.1 billion for population activities was more than half of all donor contributions in 2005, and she noted an increase in domestic funding for population activities by developing countries across all regions. Her delegation looked forward to productive work and a successful outcome to the session.
BRIAN GRANT ( Canada) said the carefully negotiated principles and goals of the Cairo Programme of Action and the Key Actions for Further Implementation remained relevant and should continue to form the basis from which the Commission worked. The Programme represented a significant step forward in the collective understanding of the links between achieving gender equality, sustainable development, poverty reduction, and population health goals, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. Canada remained committed to the Programme and the need for its implementation as an essential prerequisite for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. At the 2005 World Summit, world leaders had confirmed their commitment to achieving the health-related Goals by 2015, including the ICPD goal of universal access to reproductive health by 2015. Of deep concern was the HIV/AIDS pandemic that continued to take its toll.
He said efforts must also be intensified to challenge gender stereotypes, stigmatization, violence, discriminatory attitudes and gender inequalities and to address poor sexual and reproductive health, which continued to account for nearly one fifth of the global burden of disease. In real terms, that was reflected in unacceptably high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies. The impact of poor sexual and reproductive health continued to fall hardest on the most disadvantaged groups, especially women and children, and those living in poverty. Particularly important was access to information and services that enabled people to make healthy decisions about their reproductive and sexual lives.
A fundamental component in the ultimate success of achieving the goals of the Programme of Action would be the building of capacities and partnerships at all levels and the active participation of civil society, he added. National Governments had primary responsibility for their citizens’ realization of the right to development. Donors also had a responsibility to coordinate cooperation with one another and with their “non-aid” policies in such areas as trade, investment, health and migration.
LUCA DALL’OGLIO, Permanent Observer of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the targets set forth in Cairo remained the goals of today. The Commission’s session, however, marked a unique opportunity not only to build on the Programme of Action, but also to present innovative approaches to attain those objectives and to help advance new areas of consensus. The IOM appreciated the significance of the upcoming High-Level Dialogue as the first ever high-level United Nations event entirely devoted to migration and development. The dialogue could offer a unique occasion not only to share best practices on migration management but also to foster cooperation on key migration issues.
He said the IOM was contributing its migration expertise in order to set up a framework for a more coherent discourse on migration policies and a better balanced understanding of migration and migrants. Those initiatives were taking place at various levels. At the regional and global levels, the IOM had already planed several events focused on specific aspects of the high-level dialogue, including labour migration and the development impact of remittances. Over 40 events had been planned together with United Nations partners and other partners in anticipation of the high-level dialogue. While it was a tall agenda, it indicated how topical the subject had become.
BATOOL SHAKOORI, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), said that body’s interest in international migration had been keeping pace with the growing importance of the issue at both the regional and international levels. In the early 1990s, ECSWA’s work on international migration had been limited to the few unplanned activities that were implemented in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, when the issue of Arab migrant returnees had emerged in the region. Later, international migration had become fully integrated in ESCWA’s work programme. Driven by the realization that the economic, social and cultural benefits must be more effectively acknowledged, ESCWA had increasingly worked to mainstream the developmental aspects of international migration in its work programme. It had increasingly committed itself to working together with Arab countries to strengthen their capacity to develop strategic visions, to adopt new paradigms, and to develop and formulate coherent international migration policies.
Against that backdrop, ESCWA, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), assisted countries in the region by organizing workshops and expert group meetings for the policymakers and technical staff of Governments and civil society, she said. In 2007, ESCWA would continue to implement its international migration programme. Among other things, ESCWA would publish the Third Population and Development Report on youth unemployment and international migration in the Arab region. A series of activities to strengthen national capacities in formulating coherent international migration and development policies was planned, and a fundraising process to support capacity-building workshops had already been initiated.
National Experience in International Migration and Development
Keynote speaker, RITA SUSSMUTH, President, Ota University, Berlin, presented a paper entitled, “Developing a Coherent Migration Policy: Germany and the European Union”. It dealt with the following topics: goals to be pursued towards coherent migration policies at the global level, including reducing negative consequences of migration, alleviating desperation, maximizing the potential of migration, recognizing integration as an essential part of migration, and enhancing regional and global governance; increasing coherence of migration policies in the European Union; and the emerging paradigm of migration management in the European Union.
Ms. Sussmuth concluded that, today, Governments strove towards avoiding forming coherent migration policies. They conducted their work in that policy area in “constant contradiction”, yet they must unite behind the basic common principle of maximizing the benefits of migration and reducing its negative effects. Individual, national migration policy goals had much in common, in both sending and receiving countries. Governments must look beyond the surface to understand the causal relationships of migration. The desire to work together and the need to do so was a positive consequence of a horrific and inexcusable German and European failure: racism, persecution and the mass murder of minorities that the German Reich inflicted on its neighbours and on members of its own population.
It was also not long ago that Europeans sought refuge and acceptance after the end of the Second World War outside of Europe and found it, she said. In the spirit that arose from the ashes of that war, participants were here today to discuss and remember the mutual benefits that could be harvested when the world recognized the need of one for another and valued the potential of the global community. “Let us put our political might and collective political will behind developing coherent migration policies regionally and globally -- alleviating the negative consequences of migration and maximizing the human potential that migration can bring about.”
For that endeavour, she offered the following guidelines: migration policies must be made more coherent and clear, with shared goals and a common vision; no State could manage migration alone; the policies must reflect migration flow realities; and addressing migration policies meant addressing integration policies at the same time and as one policy complex.
Following the presentation, a brief discussed ensued, in which the representatives of the Gambia, Pakistan, Canada and the Philippines participated.
The second keynote speaker, PAPA OWUSU-ANKOMAH, Minister of the Interior of Ghana, spoke on the topic, “Emigration from Ghana: A Motor or a Brake for Development”. He said there were an estimated 3 million Ghanaians living outside Ghana, with about one third of them residing in Europe and North America. That group was made up of both skilled and unskilled workers. While actual data on them was not available, nearly all of them had been motivated by the prospects of a better life in whichever country they found themselves. Ghanaian migrants maintained close ties with their home communities, often expressed in both economic and non-economic terms. Regular remittances were used by families and friends to meet daily consumption needs, and in times of major crises, including illness and death in the family.
He said that what was important about those remittances was, not only their volume, but the fact that their level was much more than the foreign aid the country received in 2005, as well as Ghana’s export earnings from cocoa and gold, or total foreign direct investment. They were also about 15 per cent of GDP and more than 40 per cent of total exports. Thus, Ghana had become highly dependent on remittance transfers. Besides remittances, Ghanaian expatriates had contributed in diverse ways to the country’s development. Some highly skilled Ghanaians who had returned had made investments in both the formal and informal sectors of the Ghanaian economy. A number of “returnees” had invested in small businesses on their return, while many, especially in the elite group, had introduced changes in the workplace, building on their experiences abroad. In addition, the transfer of financial, human and social capital might represent a “brain re-gain” that might be promoting development in Ghana.
Key issues associated with remittances included how to reduce transaction costs, how to transfer earnings from abroad and channel them into poverty reduction and modernization, legal reforms to reverse impediments to remittance flows and how to prevent money-laundering activities, he said.
On the issue of manpower, he said that emigrants fell into three broad categories, namely, unskilled manpower, students, and skilled manpower. The loss of critical migrant skills could be seen as a “brake to development”, especially since such skills tended to be in essential areas such as health and education. The huge number of migrants worldwide and their engagement with the home country meant that the Government had to promote an outreach policy to the community living abroad. That would build confidence between the diaspora and the State, enhance links between the two and ensure joint development. In order to derive the optimum benefits from emigration, therefore, his Government had taken a number of initiatives that directly or indirectly should ensure the attainment of that goal. He highlighted some of those in such areas as citizenship legislation, political participation in national affairs, and combating the brain drain.
He said that a study of the brain drain by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that, by 1990, 15 per cent of Ghanaians with tertiary education had migrated to the United States and another 10 per cent to other OECD countries. In contrast, less than 10 per cent of Ghanaians with secondary education were found to have moved to OECD countries. Other data showed that more than 70 per cent of Ghanaian migrants in the United States in 1990 had completed tertiary level, and less than 1 per cent had only primary-level education or no education at all. The Ghana public sector health service had suffered significant losses of health workers through external migration to the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa, as well as to the Arabian Gulf. It was believed that there were more Ghanaian doctors working outside Ghana than inside the country.
Similarly, the attrition of nurses had reached significant proportions over the past five years, he said. In the past decade, Ghana was estimated to have lost 50 per cent of its professional nurses to the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. The situation in the education sector was also alarming, especially at the tertiary level where the shortage of academic, professional and research staff had left some of the universities with inexperienced and insufficient staff with low morale. Some courses were taught by staff without the requisite expertise, and staff members were forced to handle increasing numbers of students. Essentially, the tertiary institutions were not able to produce the types of students most critically needed to support the country’s development.
He said that several initiatives were being taken to reduce the large numbers of professionals leaving Ghana. The Government was working to improve the conditions of service of doctors and health workers and other professionals in the education sector and to provide a conducive environment as the first line of defence against the brain drain. There had been increases in basic salaries and allowances, and incentive schemes such as housing and means of transport to encourage staff and potential staff. A feasibility study had led to a pilot project on diaspora involvement in the context of human resource development in the health sector. The project was enabling Ghanaian health professionals residing in the Netherlands and other European Union countries to transfer skills, knowledge and other resources to the health sector in Ghana through short assignments. As an additional sustainable aspect of mitigating the brain drain, health professionals from Ghana had the opportunity to do specialized training in hospitals in the Netherlands.
In order for Ghana to make migration a motor rather than a brake to its development, several actions required international support, he said. Assistance was needed in a number of areas, including: collection of up-to-date information on migration; capacity-building of specific institutions involved in migration-related programmes; information exchanges on migration issues; exchange of personnel engaged in migration activities; and development of arrangements with various countries for managed migration of both skilled and unskilled Ghanaians.
Speakers in the discussion that followed were from Botswana and Canada.
WANG GUOQIANG, Vice-Minister of National Population and Family Planning Commission of China, noted that as a direct outcome of globalization, international population migration had an important impact -- both positive and negative -- on socio-economic development in both host and source countries. With accelerated economic globalization, cross-border population migration would further increase in quantity and scope. China agreed with the Secretary-General that international population migration was a global issue that must be included in the global development agenda. It was both an opportunity and a challenge for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. He also agreed that the United Nations should hold high-level talks to promote international cooperation in addressing the issue.
Over the past decade, China’s Government had made earnest efforts to deliver its commitments as to the ICPD Programme of Action and the Millennium Goals, he said. In implementing population and family planning programmes, China adhered to the principle of human development and provided safe and effective family planning and reproductive health services. As a result, the momentum of population growth had been brought under control, and the population reproduction pattern had undergone a historic change with a low level of fertility. Although China’s population growth had achieved a low fertility level, due to a huge population base, the total number would still continue to grow by 8 to 10 million annually in the coming decades. China still faced many obstacles and a huge challenge in stabilizing the low ferity and eventually achieving the goals set by the ICPD Programme of Action and the Millennium Development Goals. The population issues China faced included accelerated population ageing, sex ratio imbalance at birth, poor education and health conditions of the population and the migration of large numbers of surplus rural labour force, among others.
He said China’s Government would stick to its State policy of family planning and its commitments made at the ICPD and the Millennium Summit, and address the population issues in line with the principle of full human development and sustainable development. A China with a growing economy, a stable society, a contented population and a peaceful foreign policy was emerging. Exchanges between the Chinese people and the outside world had expanded dramatically. From 1978 to 2004, the total number of Chinese people who had studied abroad had reached some 814,884 of whom 197,884 had returned. In 2005, China had exported some 274,000 labourers. By the end of 2005, the total number of Chinese labourers had reached 565,000 with contractual value standing at $21.76 billion. Expanded ties and communications with the international communities had promoted not only international exchanges, but had also deepened mutual understanding and friendship between the peoples of China and other countries.
Despite the remarkable achievements in economic development, China remained the largest developing country in the world with a large population and an uneven, underdeveloped economy. Of China’s total population of 1.3 billion, over 500 million were rural labourers. Currently, 140 million surplus rural labourers had moved to cities. The only solution for China was to promote coordinated development between urban and rural areas and in the eastern, central and western regions. To achieve common development and prosperity, all States should strengthen economic, technical and cultural exchanges and cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit. In addressing cross-border migration issues, all countries should observe the principle of equality and cooperation. The international community should strengthen coordination in order to minimize the negative effects of population migration and promote economic globalization towards the goal of common prosperity. China would do its best to cement ties with the international community in the areas of economy, culture, education, technology and safeguard the legitimate rights of Chinese citizens and legal persons abroad.
KEREN LEIGH DAVIES ( Australia) noted that over 40 per cent of Australia’s population was born overseas. Australia had benefited from migration with its resulting combination of cultures, talents and experiences. Stressing the need for coherent migration policies, she added that if both migrants and States were to reap the benefits of migration, it was necessary for States to be active in migration management. In that regard, Australia planned, among other things, levels and types of migration. Managing migration allowed Governments to choose people in humanitarian need that might not otherwise fit into the categories of migration. Australia also emphasized the importance of consultation within the community, as public support for migration was essential if it were to contribute to societal development. Efforts to manage migration included settlement assistance, including assistance to enter the labour market and the integration of migrants into society, while recognizing that migrants ultimately were settled by their community.
The model of managed migration had worked to meet her country’s needs, she added. Country needs varied, however. Regardless of a country’s place on the migration spectrum, the key to benefits was a coherent and managed approach. The Pacific Islands economies of Tonga and Samoa had some of the highest remittance flows in the world. Governments in sending and receiving countries had a role in ensuring that transfers were made directly and at reasonable costs. While remittances were not a panacea, they were an important source of development finance. They could also contribute to development in other ways. Diasporas acted as a bridge between countries, encouraging cooperation in the areas of trade and education.
The basis of Australia’s initiatives was managed migration, she concluded. The key was to develop State capacity in that regard. The IOM was best suited to help countries do that, as no other international organization had the same breadth and depth in migration matters. By definition, migration was an issue that crossed borders. Australia strongly supported regional processes, which were the best way for States to make inroads on issues of common interest. The cornerstone of reaping the benefits of migration was managing the process of migration.
CARMEN MARIA GALLARDO, Chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women, said the Commission had celebrated both its sixtieth anniversary and its fiftieth session this year. One of the major achievements of the fiftieth session was the adoption of the resolution on the Commission’s future organization and methods of work. Starting in 2007, the Commission would focus on one priority theme per year, the outcome of which would be in the form of agreed conclusions. The Commission’s new working methods placed stronger emphasis on the implementation of previous commitments by evaluating progress in the implementation of the agreed conclusions on a priority theme from a previous session. The Commission would continue to discuss emerging issues, trends and new approaches to issues affecting the situation of women or equality between women and men that required urgent consideration.
The Population Commission, she said, was considering an important issue on the United Nations development agenda. A gender perspective was essential for understanding both the causes and the consequences of international migration. During its fiftieth session, the Commission on the Status of Women had considered the gender dimensions of international migration as an emerging issue. A panel discussion on that topic had emphasized the increasing recognition that gender biases existed in the migration process, resulting in women’s experiences being different from those of men, including in relation to exit and entry and in countries of destination. The Commission placed great emphasis on further enhancing cooperation with other functional commissions. She encouraged the Population Commission to consider the gender dimensions of population and development within its work programme.
JAVIER LOAYZA BAREA, Chairperson of the Commission for Social development said that body had decided to transmit to the high-level dialogue on international migration the Chairman’s summary of a panel discussion during its session on migrants from a social perspective. Providing an overview of that discussion, he noted that while international migration involved relations between sovereign States, it was essentially the result of individual and family decisions. It had a North-South dimension, but not uniquely, and a strong regional dimension. The main objectives should be to better manage migration movements, to protect migrants and to establish a normative framework. The aim was to have a notion of shared responsibility. Remittances were important from an economic and development point of view, but were a part of personal income and must be easily transferred by the immigrants themselves. The question of brain drain was a concern to some developing countries that were losing people essential to their development.
Besides improving communication, an equally great effort was needed to produce reliable data according to changing realities, he said. The active involvement of Governments and other public and private actors was required. As migration was a result of economic differences, trade and employment and income opportunities should be carefully assessed. A clear and secure legal status, decent jobs, access to social services and benefits were key elements of the well-being and personal security of immigrants. The protection and enhancement of their rights remained fundamental and should not be seen in terms of the cost involved. Exploitation, discrimination, xenophobia and racism were scourges that must be eliminated for coherent policies at all levels. The situation of women and children required determined forms of cooperation. International cooperation also required the establishment of strengthened mechanisms for dialogue and information exchange.
JOHN BOMET SERUT, Assistant Minister for Planning and National Development of Kenya, said international migration in Kenya accounted for less than 2 per cent of the total population. The main concern on international migration and development in Kenya had been the emigration of skilled manpower to countries with higher incomes in both the developing and developed regions including Southern Africa, the so-called brain drain and the refugee movement from neighbouring countries. The number of Kenyans living abroad was not known due to lack of data on emigration. Political turmoil and ethnic conflicts in neighbouring countries had contributed immensely to emigration of people from those countries to Kenya.
On the issue of brain drain, he said Kenyan emigrants consisted of students, skilled labourers, refugees and green card lottery winners. A large number of Kenyan immigrants to countries like the United States today went as students. There was evidence that Kenya had the greatest proportion of students in the United States among other African countries. Socio-economic factors such as provision for subsequent change of immigration status, occupation and education and the selective nature of the visa-granting process had been the dominant push and pull factors attracting Kenyan immigrants to the United States. Concerning remittances, he said it had been realized that the development of more efficient ways of sending money such as bank wire transfers, Money Gram International Money Orders and Western Union services had facilitated the regular sending home of remittances from abroad to relatives at home by Kenyan immigrants. Last year, Kenyans living abroad remitted back some 50 billion Kenyan shillings, an equivalent of some $684 million.
He said Kenya had made much progress in addressing the challenges posed by international migration, including the recent creation of the Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons to handle issues relating to internal and international migration. The Government had also implemented resettlement programmes involving provision of land, security and essential services to refugees. To reap maximum benefits in international migration, the Government needed to put in place a number of interventions, including improving the economic situation and environment for professional growth and intensifying community-based conflict resolution initiatives for hostile factions from neighbouring war-torn countries.
TOMAS M. OSIAS ( Philippines) said that Filipino migrant workers remained the “unsung heroes” of the Philippines because of their contributions to the country’s development. The huge amount of dollar remittances, estimated by the United Nations to have reached $11.6 billion last year, was a big boost to the Philippine economy, contributing a full 18 per cent to the GNP. Overseas Filipino workers consisted of skilled and semi-skilled, as well as highly skilled or professional workers. A large number of health professionals, particularly nurses, estimated to have reached at least 100,000, had left the country since 1994 to work abroad. “Push and pull” factors contributed to that phenomenon. Greater opportunities for growth, significantly higher pay and better working and living conditions abroad continued to draw more and more Filipino health-care practitioners. In turn, the situation challenged the domestic demand for health professionals and the quality of the delivery of local health care.
He said that another concern was the increasing feminization of international labour migration from the Philippines. Concentration of migrant women workers had been a source of much attention. Because of the nature of employment of some Filipino women workers, they had become vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. As a response, the Government adopted the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 to institute policies on overseas employment and establish a high standard of protection and promotion for the welfare of migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress. Likewise, other national policies, such as the anti-trafficking act of 2030, had been promulgated to ensure the further protection of Filipinos. That act had been a milestone in the promotion of human dignity and protection of persons, especially women and children, against the threat of violence and exploitation.
While migration of workers had satisfied many basic needs of Filipino families, the social costs attendant to migrant families as a result of prolonged separation could not be ignored, he said. In some instances, separation led to the breakdown of families, the deterioration and underdevelopment of children and the development of a culture of consumerism. Cognizant of those realities, various sectors were seeking to identify relevant interventions aimed at elaborating more responsive policies and programmes. The Philippines accorded great importance to the migration issue and its linkages to development through sustained efforts to mobilize resources for migration-related programmes and mechanisms, as well as by enriching programme development related to migration.
WERNER HAUG ( Switzerland) said the International Conference on Population and Development was the first global conference to embrace migration as a development force rather than a development failure, and the ICPD Programme of Action remained highly relevant. Switzerland encouraged all efforts by the United Nations Secretariat, the World Bank, the OECD and others to improve the coverage and comparability of data on migration flows and stocks, as well as on their development impact. Relative to its size, Switzerland was an important migration country and owed much of its economic growth and welfare to the contribution of migrants. Almost a quarter of the Swiss population was foreign-born. About 11 per cent of Swiss nationals were naturalized, and 9 per cent had dual citizenship. Since 1999, net migration had been the main driver of population growth, although most migration was not permanent and return migration to countries of origin was frequent. Inflows of young migrants and outflows of elderly migrants had had a rejuvenating effect on the rapidly ageing Swiss population.
Since the end of the 1990s, the implementation of the “free movement of persons” policy between Switzerland the European Union had brought a strong increase of highly skilled immigrants, while regular immigration from developing countries had declined. Nevertheless, the share of migrants from developing countries had reached 17 per cent in 2004. The number of asylum-seekers had declined from a peak of over 40,000 per year in the mid-1990s to some 10,000 per year today. Moreover, the skill level of immigrants to Switzerland had changed in the last years. Today, 50 per cent of all newcomers were highly skilled migrants, mainly from developed countries. The shift was, among other things, linked to the phasing out of the seasonal workers programme which had brought many low-qualified migrants to Switzerland.
He said the integration of long-term migrants in Swiss society had proved to be successful. Many descendents of migrants were “over-performers” with high upward mobility. Switzerland had recently changed its legislative framework to strengthen integration policies. Cultural differences, however, remained a challenge and called for adapted institutional and legal frameworks to prevent discrimination and racism, safeguard human rights and ensure respect for diversity. The federal State had a multi-year strategy on migration and health with a special focus on cultural sensitive health services, including sexual and reproductive health, the prevention of HIV/AIDS and support to victims of abuse. Special attention was also paid to female migrants.
Besides it national activities, Switzerland had shown a strong commitment at the multilateral level, he added. At the bilateral level, the search for more comprehensive migration management strategies had led to the development of the concept of “migration partnerships”, which placed migration management in the larger context of development and good governance. The role of migrant diasporas as a bridge to recipient regions was increasingly recognized by the Swiss authorities. While dialogue and the balancing of interests were key to improved migration management at the international level, a coordinated approach at all levels involving all relevant players was needed.
NAOKO YAMAMOTO ( Japan) said the session’s theme was a multifaceted issue with far-reaching implications. Individuals migrated for a variety of reasons. Some fled war, civil unrest or political persecution. Others were driven by poverty and famine to seek better lives for themselves and their families. Still others left their homes involuntarily as victims of human trafficking. Fundamentally, international migration was an issue of human rights and dignity. In that way, it fell under the concept of human security, which stressed the protection and empowerment of individuals and sought to shift the focus of development activities from the national to the individual level. In today’s globalizing world, the challenge posed by international migration was becoming increasingly difficult for countries to face alone. It was a challenge that required collective action. Human security could provide an effective conceptual framework for international cooperation.
On migrant workers, she noted that prior to and for a short period after the Second World War, many Japanese had migrated overseas, particularly to Central and South America. Today, however, Japan had become a recipient of migrants. They arrived against the backdrop of a declining birth rate and an ageing society. In 2000, Japan’s population was some 127 million, some 17.4 per cent of which were over the age of 65. By 2050, the population was expected to decline to some 100 million, while the number of elderly would likely double. Taking note of those trends, Japan’s Government was continuing to welcome skilled workers based on the 1999 Employment Strategy.
Trafficking in persons was a grave violation of human rights and required decisive measures, she said. Through bilateral ODA and contributions to the Human Security Trust Fund, Japan had supported the efforts of countries of origin, especially in Asia, to prevent trafficking and rehabilitate the victims. It was also important to raise awareness about the threat of human trafficking in areas affected by natural disasters. The Government had been undertaking domestic initiatives to combat human trafficking, including the establishment in 2004 of an Inter-Ministerial Liaison Committee which had adopted a comprehensive national action plan focusing on prevention, prosecution and victim protection. Japan strove to advance lasting peace and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms. Japan was, therefore, assisting refugees through financial contributions to multilateral organizations.
SAMUEL O. OUTLULE ( Botswana) said the nexus between migration and development was one of the main challenges facing the international community. The Commission’s session and the September high-level dialogue were testimony of the need for a coherent global approach to an issue whose social and economic implications had left no country unaffected. Recent experience had demonstrated that no country could deal with the vagaries of international migration alone. As the number of international migrants grew so did the need for a comprehensive global framework to facilitate international collaboration. Migration was as much a North-South as a South-South phenomenon.
There were positive and negative dimensions of migration, he said. As a small country of some 1.7 million people, Botswana had experienced a mixture of both the good and the bad. Botswana was host to both “documented” and “undocumented” migrants. In the medical field, they were on the frontline in the battle against the virulent HIV/AIDS. In the area of education, migrant teachers had provided technical expertise in various areas including planning, policy formulation and implementation. Migrants had also come as investors, creating much-needed employment opportunities. According to the 2001 population census, some 1.7 per cent of Botswana’s population lived outside the country, mostly in South Africa, mainly working in the mines.
He said it was the primary responsibility of every country to address the root causes of the movement of its citizens to other countries. Botswana had been working hard to grow and diversify its economy, resulting in the reduction of the percentage of its people living abroad from 8 per cent in 1971 to 1.7 per cent in 2001. On the negative side was the issue of migration of health professionals from developing countries to developed countries. As Botswana was one of the countries most affected by HIV/AIDS, the migration of those professionals, who had been trained at cost, had added severe strain on Botswana’s national resources. The international community must address that issue with a greater sense of urgency and unity of purpose. If allowed to continue, many developing countries would relapse into the economic doldrums. Any framework on migration must address the recruitment of health professionals from developing to developed countries.
He said the dialogue should continue beyond September with a view to fostering the necessary global partnership and, above all, an understanding that migration was much more than a movement of people from the South to the North. It was a matter of development, governance and national responsibility. It required ownership, partnership and cooperation.
CARMEN MARIA GALLARDO ( El Salvador) said that globalization contributed to the increasing complexity of international migration and, thus, she welcomed the examination of that topic at the current session. Her country had been changed by the strengthening of two major processes. On the one hand was peacebuilding and democracy, and on the other, was the migration of 20 per cent of the Salvadorian population over the last 20 years. While the latter phenomenon had been socially enriching, there were certain complexities attendant to it and linked to the development challenges facing El Salvador. Women occupied a predominant place in the migration phenomenon, which required that a gender perspective be incorporated in all related programmes and policies. El Salvador, as a medium- to low-income country, attributed great importance to family remittances. Despite the private nature of those funds, the State should seek to create a conducive environment.
She said that the economic impact of migration was not confined to remittances alone. Migrants maintained a link to their country of origin, and they used telecommunication services to keep in contact with their families. They also used services to send money and parcels. They invested in their country of origin, and they used air transport, and so forth. Migrants made many contributions to the political, economic and social fabric of a country, so it was of the utmost importance to strengthen dialogue and cooperation to address the new dimension of the linkage between international migration and development. In 2004, her Government had established a Vice-Ministry to care for Salvadorians abroad. That was a practical tool to deal with their needs and challenges. It had also recognized the contributions of the mainstreaming conferences and summits. In the framework of United Nations reform, particularly of the General Assembly, international migration should assume its place on the political agenda of a revitalized Assembly. The Secretary-General should be more actively involved in coordinating the migration-related efforts of the whole United Nations system.
JEAN-MARC HOSCHEIT ( Luxembourg) said his country was both a country of emigration and immigration. Today, 43 per cent of the resident population in Luxembourg was not of Luxembourg nationality, which explained his country’s considerable interest in the question being considered today. In Luxembourg’s development as a financial capital and service centre, it had welcomed people from around the world. Those migrants had enriched the country in many ways, including by modernizing the country and bringing together various cultures and diversity. All in all, migrants had made a major contribution to his country’s prosperity, and partly because of them, Luxembourg had been able to set aside 0.8 per cent ODA. But, the reality for migrants was often a tough reality. Very few people left their countries, towns or villages out of choice, but out of insecurity of some kind.
He said that large numbers of young people from developing countries left because they did not enjoy possibilities in their own countries. The appropriate responses were not always straightforward. Most of the time, the solutions were to be found in both the North and South. Immigration policies could provide part of the response, but development assistance and poverty alleviation had a clear and crucial role to play. He noted the positive role played by the diaspora in his own country, including through remittances being sent back to families. Development was a most promising way to ensure the most sustainable approach to the movement of populations today. Luxembourg would take more and more account of that in its development policies. That did not mean that development assistance should digress from its basic objective of combating poverty. Where poverty gave way to development, people would no longer feel the need to leave their country. Luxembourg was a committed partner to both migration and development, he said.
JOAO SALGUEIRO ( Portugal) said that while the links between international migration and development were complex, migration, when managed effectively, could have a substantial positive impact on receiving countries, as well as countries of origin. It was important, therefore, to raise awareness about the multidimensional aspects of migration in development to maximize positive impacts and limit negative consequences for the countries involved and the migrants themselves. He stressed the need to deepen cooperation between origin and recipient countries to ease the overall burden of migration, or design joint strategies that might make it easier for populations to remain in one place so that they could contribute to their country’s future development.
Portugal also favoured increased cooperation on migration issues between States and regions, including on the important issue of South-South migration. Turning to the situation in his own country, he said Portugal’s national policies on international migration were based on the European Union’s relevant framework. And although Portugal had in the past been a migrant sending country, in the past few decades, it had become a host country and now faced new challenges in dealing with a significant number of immigrants. Indeed, Portugal’s period of economic prosperity which had brought about an ever-increasing need for labour, had eased and, as a result, many of those immigrants were now jobless and vulnerable to the ills of poverty and social exclusion.
It had been in that context that Portugal had adopted its “regulated immigration” policy, which focused on three things: integration, inspection and regulation. He said that migration should be managed so that awarding entry into a country was linked to integration initiatives that helped migrants and their families steer clear of pitfalls that could lead to social exclusion, while also providing equal treatment, access and protection under the law, particularly in the areas of health care, education and employment.
Because migrants were one of the populations that were most vulnerable to poverty, actions aimed at integrating them into their host societies should be coupled with initiatives to motivate contributions to their countries of origin as well. To that end, Portugal encouraged the establishment of migrants’ associations and promoted efforts to raise awareness among migrants about development programmes in their home countries. He also said that appropriate mechanisms were in place to gather information and keep track of statistics on migrant populations. One small part of what development aid could do, he added, was to help countries of origin keep track of their own emigrant populations, who they were, where they went and what types of links they maintained with their homelands.
ABDELLAH BENMELLOUK ( Morocco) welcomed the debate on international migration. No one denied the positive impact of migration on development. Foreign manpower was needed in many countries to attain socio-economic equilibrium. While migration had positive implications, the growth of migration represented numerous challenges, including improving the benefits of migration, particularly in sending countries, protecting migrants, brain drain and facing criminal traffickers. Migration was a natural phenomenon that should be seen not as a threat but as a source of enrichment. Morocco had always welcomed the role that its nationals were playing abroad. The Government’s policy provided for the full participation of Moroccans, including through the transfer of skills and competencies.
Morocco had also become a transit country and a country of immigration, particularly from the sub-Saharan countries, he said. Unfortunately, those immigrants were often the victims of genuine criminal networks which exploited their vulnerability. While Morocco had made efforts to counteract illegal immigration, those efforts would not succeed without the creation of an effective regional approach. Protecting victims demanded bilateral collaboration at the regional and international levels. It also required that each country take responsibility, including by controlling borders and cooperating in finding criminal immigration networks.
Managing migratory flows required an approach that went beyond security, he said. The profound causes of migration must also be addressed. Implementing dialogue between countries of origin, transit or receiving countries was needed to establish sustainable solutions and explore the benefits of migration for development. That could be done by creating genuine partnerships. Implementing socio-economic projects for employment would contribute to the upstream efforts to combat clandestine immigration. Morocco had long faced the problem of migration for some time due to its geographic location. In that regard, it had sought to establish partnerships in order to establish modern migratory programmes and promote sustainable development. Africa, as never before, needed international assistance and cooperation.
MIRJANA MLADINEO ( Croatia) said that Croatia had drafted its strategy on migration as the first step towards a coherent migration policy. Among other things, the strategy envisaged steps to strengthen institutional capacity in order to effectively manage migration within the framework of aligning the national legislation with that of the European Union. Croatia managed migration in accordance with the principles of freedom of movement, solidarity and humanity, keeping in mind that migration had a positive impact on economic and social development. Her country was determined to ensure respect of human rights and freedoms, including migrants’ right to seek and receive political asylum. Legal foreign immigrants were able to stay in Croatia either temporarily or permanently, their social inclusion being a priority.
Migration flows impacted on the economic, social and cultural life of society, she continued. The State sought to harmonize migration with the needs of the labour market by stimulating the return of the Croatian diaspora and enabling migration for family reunification of Croatian citizens and emigrants from abroad. The Ministry of Science, Education and Sport and a group of prominent scientists had called on Croatian scientists abroad to promote and develop cooperation with their homeland, to propose joint development projects and assist in the education of young scientists from Croatia. At the same time, national institutions had been called upon to remove all barriers to such assistance and to pass laws that would enable the most effective cooperation between Croatian scientists living abroad and those at home.
Consideration was being given to the establishment of a single focal point for all migration policy activities, she said. One of the country’s active partners was the Mission of the International Organization for Migration to Croatia, whose offices were now implementing some 15 projects and were involved in a number of regional initiatives. As one of the countries affected by the problem of human trafficking, Croatia also actively participated in international activities pertaining to that crime and had a comprehensive and effective system to suppress it, which was victim-centred. Croatia was also developing its legislation on migration, which was a work in progress.
SUMARJATI ARJOSO ( Indonesia) said that recent developments had forced her country to review the way in which it handled global migration. Being a major sending country, Indonesia’s migrant workers were now located in 19 destination countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, North America and Europe. The number of Indonesian migrant workers amounted to approximately 1 million people. Those workers generated remittances valuing up to $5.49 billion, or some 0.75 per cent of GDP. Those workers contributed to Indonesia’s economic well-being. Despite appreciating the contribution by Indonesia’s migrant workers to the national economy, her Government had come to realize that more efforts were needed to address the issue of protection of the rights of migrant workers. It had come to its attention that, in dealing with the complex migration issue, challenges were present at every stage of the migration process.
She said that Indonesian migrant workers often ventured overseas without sufficient information about the entire migration process. Consequently, many travelled as undocumented migrants, thereby becoming vulnerable to unfair working conditions in the host countries or facing threats of deportation there. Many female workers were forced to endure physical, psychological or sexual abuse, as well as other forms of ill treatment from their employers or in the wider society. In response, the Indonesian Government had enacted a law on their protection, by which protection was enhanced through the application of administrative and penal sanctions for any breach of the law’s provisions. Work was also being conducted to achieve in-country support systems in receiving countries, as well as a more transparent mechanism for support services, data collection, and cooperation with other Government agencies.
The value of remittances to Indonesia had steadily increased over time, she said. That amount was now quite significant and contributed to the Indonesian economy; however, remittances should in no way replace ODA as a source of funding for development. More importantly, the crux of the matter in dealing with those global phenomena would be strengthening cooperation and collaboration among Governments at the bilateral and regional levels. It was against that background that Indonesia had convened several initiatives, including the so-called Bali process on smuggling and trafficking in persons. Through the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), it had established several regional arrangements, including bilateral agreements with several ASEAN countries and also with receiving countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Her country strongly supported the need for global development partnerships that would make migration a choice, rather than a necessity, she said.
OLGA ANTONOVA ( Russian Federation) said her country was number two in terms of the number of international migrants. Over the last 15 years, Russia had been at the crossroads of migratory flows as a receiving, sending and transit country. In recent years, the situation had been discussed at the highest level of Government. In Russia, work on a national conceptual policy on migration was being finalized. The main challenge was to create a comprehensive national migration policy with an institutional basis that corresponded to the country’s contemporary needs. The measures to manage migration and counteract illegal migration had been set out in the country’s programme of economic development for 2006-2008. Emphasis was placed on ensuring security, territorial integrity and respect for the rights of migrants while respecting the rights of the local population.
Among its national priorities was increasing Russia’s attractiveness for migrants and reducing immigration from Russia, she said. Other priorities included creating favourable conditions for coexistence of migrants, combating illegal migration and continuing to develop legislation, including reducing the time required to obtain Russian citizenship. The Government had also established a new rule on issuing permits for employers to bring in foreign workers and allowing foreign and Stateless individuals to work in Russia. In 2005, more than 400,000 new work permits had been issued, and some 700,000 workers now held those permits. The number of migrants should be in line with the needs of the national economy and should not outweigh the needs of Russian workers, however. Also important was the need to establish normal relations among migrants and local populations.
Regarding the need to combat illegal migration, she said measures were also being taken to increase statistics on migration. Russia was a major source of remittances from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) -- an estimated $1 billion or 20 to 30 per cent of the GDP of those countries. Much of that money left Russia illegally. The enormous scale of grey market cash was a threat to the country’s economic stability. The Russian Federation supported national dialogue and stressed the need for regional cooperation. Her country also supported the holding of a high-level dialogue during the Assembly’s sixty-first session, as it would be an important forum for an exchange of experience.
PIRAGIBE TARRAGO ( Brazil) said that the very formation of his nation rested on substantial inflows of people from every horizon. Brazil had always sought to promote the integration of those various ethnicities and cultures, recognizing the value of that practice. Since the 1980s, there had been an inversion of the migratory flow. As a result, although the country still received immigrants in smaller numbers, there was today a net outflow of migrants from Brazil. His country was making serious efforts towards the integration of immigrants, and it was also seeking to improve the assistance to Brazilians living abroad. New legislation was under final review by the Brazilian Congress. Once adopted, it would facilitate the permanence of foreigners in the country, as well as the issuing of visas for those wishing to move to Brazil. The new law also ensured access to medical and educational public services, in a spirit of respect for the human rights of migrants, including their social and labour rights.
He said his country was acting out of the belief that, regardless of an individual’s migratory status, the State in which a worker was performing productive activities should be able to ensure minimum international standards. Brazil was also starting to implement the consular registration of Brazilian citizens living abroad, inspired by a successful initiative of the Mexican Government. At the same time, his country remained committed to exploring ways to reduce the cost of remittances, facilitate their flow and encourage opportunities for development-oriented investment by their legitimate owners. Some Brazilian banks were seeking ways to facilitate migrant remittances and to improve the access of poor families to financial services in the country. Countries of destination also benefited from the prosperity induced by the work of migrants. Those countries benefited from the availability of both low-skilled and highly skilled labour to supplement their human power deficit. In both cases, migrant workers contributed decisively to the development of destination countries.
Brazil was also negotiating on a bilateral basis with those countries where substantial numbers of national citizens had emigrated with the aim of, for example, seeking solutions in the area of social security, in order to preserve migrants’ pension rights if they eventually chose to move back to Brazil, he said. Emphasizing the importance of dealing with international migration in a multilateral context, through inclusive processes, he said that unilateral measures might ignore basic rules of human rights, including social and labour rights, of migrants. Migration policies should not be linked to security concerns only, and the preservation of migrants’ rights should be the cornerstone of any multilaterally-inspired policy. The very fact that the discussion was taking place at the United Nations was itself significant. Given the complexity of the challenges presented by international migration, both destination and origin countries should cooperate in seeking negotiated solutions.
SHAHZADO SHAIKH, Secretary, Ministry of Population Welfare, Pakistan, said that the economic disparities and inequities in the international system compelled people to leave their homes. That contributed to the global migration patterns. To address the factors that triggered migration, States and the private sector should consider introducing temporary migration programmes as a means of coping with the economic needs of sending and receiving countries and curbing illegal migration. Exploring and facilitating channels for regular migration would help maximize the developmental impact of migration, both in the receiving and sending States, as well as reduce human trafficking and abuse of migrant rights. The international legal framework for migrants’ rights also needed coherence. Present multiple international instruments addressed migration issues in a fragmented way.
He said that the insistence in the “human rights basket” of instruments on proper treatment of migrants was ineffectual in the absence of instruments to regulate free, cross-border movement of persons seeking employment. Measures for successful integration of migrants into receiving societies should also be devised. The absence of social security benefits deprived migrants of basic amenities. Fair and transparent work regulations were another important part of their rights. The present international legal framework for migrants was not adequate to respond to blatant violations of the rights of those held for months on the high seas or stranded in countries with no legal recourse.
The efficient remittance of migrant earnings to their families back home was one of the basic needs of migrants, he said. There was an obvious need for having regulatory frameworks in place that facilitated remittances at low costs. Remittances from migrants were helpful to some extent, but their overall impact on development could not be substantiated. The remittances, therefore, should supplement, and not supplant, development assistance. The lack of capacity and absence of policy coherence and coordination undermined the international community’s ability to deal with migration issues. The political will was needed to act and to devise realistic and doable strategies to deal with the situation at hand. That called for a global partnership and a multi-stakeholder approach.
ILEANA NUÑEZ MORDOCHE ( Cuba) said the International Conference on Population and Development had been a milestone in addressing the issue of population, placing the human being in the centre of development. The issue of international migration was one of the most complex within the Programme of Action, with its debates being predominantly politically based. From 1994 to date, Cuba had signed several agreements with countries in the region with the aim of regulating international migration, avoiding non-documented migrations and decreasing unnecessary risks to the migrants’ lives. Most agreements had been fulfilled, except the case of the agreements signed with the United States in 1994 and 1995, which, though still in force, were being implemented on an irregular basis.
The United States continued to be the main recipient of the Cuban migration, with some 1 million Cuban-born people currently living in that country, she said. While Cuba continued advancing more dynamic relations with its emigrants, the United States persisted in politically manipulating the treatment of Cuban migrants, making increasingly difficult their relation not only with their country of origin, but also with their families. Resolutions adopted by the United States in 2004 had turned Cuban immigrants into second-class citizens, subjecting them to unfair and cruel discrimination. After 2004, Cuban migrants could only visit their country of origin every three years if granted a specific permission for each trip. They were also prohibited from remitting money or parcels to their relatives in Cuba in the amount they wanted as they had been imposed with a limit of $300 every three months.
She added that the receiving country had encouraged illegal emigration through different ways, including not only radio propaganda from the United States but also the policy known as “wet feet and dry feet”. Illegal exits, including by theft, aircraft, vessel hijacking and even murder had been tolerated by the United States authorities, who had sanctioned but a few smugglers and criminals. Cuba, on the contrary, had facilitated the emigration of those willing to do so and guaranteed migration to and from the country in an orderly and legal manner. Hundreds of Latin-American, Caribbean and African refugees had found shelter in Cuba, and the Cuban Government had paid most of the expenses.
JAVIER LOAYZA BAREA ( Bolivia) said that international migration could serve as an indicator of the conditions of development in the countries of the world. It was not by chance that a relatively small number of countries welcomed the greatest number of migrants globally. The report of the Population Division on population monitoring indicated that only 28 countries received 75 per cent of all international migrants, with the United States the main country of destination. Neither was it by chance that many developing countries had a negative international migration balance. Accord to a report of Bolivia’s Foreign Ministry, until 2003, there were more than 1.3 million Bolivians living abroad. The countries with the largest number of emigrant Bolivians were Argentina, with some 900,000 Bolivians, United States, Brazil, Chile, Spain and Peru.
He said that those statistical findings had reaffirmed the negative impact of immigration on the size of the Bolivian population, as approximately 15 per cent lived outside the national territory. There was also a negative impact on the working age population. Had that group remained in the country, it would have provided Bolivia with the window of opportunity necessary for development. If Bolivians returned home, the dependency ratio would fall to 59.6 per cent. According to Bolivia’s demographic profile, the country had an overwhelmingly dependent population. Despite that, it was a sending country. That tendency could increase because of the democratic transition and decreasing fertility, among other factors, which would decrease the active population. If the current trend was to continue, and Bolivia remained a sending country with labour problems at home, including unemployment, the situation would worsen in the next few years.
There was also the problem of family deterioration because women were achieving greater importance in the migratory process, he noted. For some time now, Bolivian women had left for Spain, where they had become household workers. Another negative impact had been the exodus of skilled personnel, as those employees were a valuable tool for Bolivia’s development and potential growth. One positive recent impact had been the remittances to Bolivia. The Central Bank of Bolivia had indicated that, in 2004, Bolivians living abroad had sent approximately $126 million home in remittances. That amount was equivalent to 40 per cent of the “external cooperation”, which the country received, and that represented approximately 8 per cent of the country’s exports. That same source indicated that, also in 2004, Bolivians in the United States sent the most money.
He said his Government did not have a clear policy on international migration because it was a sending country, and it did not receive foreign workers. Generally speaking, Bolivia had been an “unexpected host” to foreign groups, and it had no plans to incorporate the topic of international migration into its national plans in any substantial way, although it would be on the agenda of the next constituent assembly. With that in mind, the new approach consisted of consolidating a productive matrix, whose aim would be to encourage productive development and the industrialization of natural renewable and non-renewable resources. The agricultural policy would take account of land ownership in the context of urban and rural settlements, strengthening, in particular, medium-sized cities. Those structural changes should become a true incentive for Bolivians to remain in their country, and for those who had left the country to return.
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