22 April 2013
Economic and Social Council
POP/1012

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission on Population and Development

Forty-sixth Session

2nd & 3rd Meetings* (AM & PM)


Secretary-General Stresses Need to Make Most of Migration as Commission

 

on Population and Development Opens Forty-sixth Session

 


UNFPA Head Hails Humanity of Migrants as Speakers Deplore Rights Violations


Harnessing the rapidly evolving opportunities presented by migration must be a key component of the post-2015 development agenda, speakers emphasized today as the Commission on Population and Development opened its forty-sixth annual session.


In particular, demographic experts and high-ranking United Nations officials stressed that migration — both within and between countries — had the potential to contribute positively to development aims, spreading ideas, skills and resources across the globe.  They warned against shying away from the often “hot-button” issue.


“Migration offers challenges we must face and benefits we can harness,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, describing migration as “a fact of life in our globalizing world”.  It was not a question of whether to halt the movement of people across borders, which was impossible, but of how to plan for such movements and make the most of them, he said.


Discussions over the years, he said, had helped to identify several key goals in that respect, including the establishment of safe, legal migration channels, the alignment of migration policies with the demands of the labour market and addressing the problems faced by migrants without legal status.  There was also an overarching need to address the discrimination and abuse that migrants faced, including human trafficking, sexual exploitation and scapegoating.


Calling for frank discussions, a spirit of compromise and political will in that regard, he called on States to renew their commitment to the Cairo Programme of Action — adopted at the landmark International Conference on Population and Development in 1994 — which entailed empowering women, providing health care to all people and educating the next generation, among other things.  Moreover, “population dynamics must be a factor as we shape a post-2015 development agenda that will meet people’s needs while protecting the environment,” he stressed.


“Migrants are not numbers, they are human beings endowed with inalienable human rights,” said Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  A focus on human rights and dignity lay at the heart of the Cairo Programme of Action, he said, adding that, with the approach of its twentieth anniversary and preparations for the post-2015 agenda, Governments should recommit to implementing the Programme of Action’s objectives and mobilizing the resources required to meet them.  He also stressed that migration should be mainstreamed into national development policies and the post-2015 development agenda.


Shamshad Akhtar, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, delivered a statement on behalf of Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, pointing out that migration’s origin countries were expanding and emerging economies were drawing more migrants.  Circular migration had become more significant in recent years, with migrants feeding remittances and knowledge back to their home countries.  In that regard, migration should be recognized as a positive force for development, as it often enhanced the productive capacity of origin countries, relieved labour shortages and spread knowledge and ideas, she said.


Keynote speaker Graeme Hugo, Professor at the University of Adelaide, Australia, said one of the biggest recent changes in the area of population and development was that mobility was now part of the “calculus of choice” for many people around the world.  It was crucial to recognize that migration was an important factor in environmental, economic and social change.  However, “the poorest of the poor” still lacked the option of migration, he pointed out, emphasizing that the relationship between poverty and migration remained a major challenge.


Addressing the forces driving migration, he cited differences in development, demography and democracy.  Demographic drivers included the “youth bulge” in some countries and the increasing median age in others, as well as reduced fertility in some high-income countries.  He also cited “talent wars”, saying the wealth of nations was no longer counted in gold or resources but in human capital.


Also making opening remarks were John R. Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and Commission Chair Vladimir Lupan (Republic of Moldova).


In other business, the Commission elected, by acclamation, Marianne Odette Bibalou ( Gabon) to join three other previously elected Vice-Chairs.  She will also hold the position of Rapporteur.


The Commission also held an interactive discussion with the following migrant panellists:  Fatumo Farah, Director of the non-governmental organization HIRDA; Natalicia Rocha-Tracy, Executive Director of the Brazilian Immigration Center in Allston, Massachusetts; and Harold Fernandez, an immigrant surgeon living in New York.  Kojo Nnamdi, host of The Kojo Nnamdi Show on public radio in Washington, D.C., and a migrant from Guyana, was the Moderator.


Presenting reports for the Commission’s consideration were the Chief of the Demographic Analysis Branch in the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs; the Director of the UNFPA Technical Division; and the Chief of the UNFPA Population and Development Branch.


In addition, the beginning of its general discussion saw the participation of a Vice Minister from China.


Others addressing the Commission were senior officials from Fiji (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Russian Federation, Mexico, Luxembourg, Cuba (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Swaziland, Gabon, United States and Egypt.


The Commission will continue its work when it reconvenes at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 23 April.


Background


The Commission on Population and Development today began its forty-sixth session, running from 22 to 26 April, under the special theme “new trends in migration:  demographic aspects”.


Before it were three reports of the Secretary-General:  “New trends in migration:  demographic aspects” (document E/CN.9/2013/3); “Monitoring on population programmes focusing on new trends in migration” (document E/CN.9/2013/4); and “Flow of financial resources for assisting in the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development” (document E/CN.9/2013/5).  Also before the Commission were a report of the Bureau on its intersessional meetings (document E/CN.9/2013/2) and a number of reports by non-governmental organizations.


A functional commission of the Economic and Social Council, the Commission monitors, reviews and assesses implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development at the national, regional and international levels, and advises the Council accordingly.  For more information on the session, please see Press Release POP/1011 of 19 April.


Opening Remarks


VLADIMIR LUPAN (Republic of Moldova), Commission Chair, launched the session by recalling that the body was charged with assessing the implementation of the Programme of Action from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo Programme of Action).  The time had come to take stock of the progress achieved in that regard.  Emphasizing the importance of internal and international migration in an increasingly integrated global economy, he declared:  “Never before have so many people lived away from the country of their births.”  It was therefore no surprise that questions relating to international migration had become more complex, he added.  Meanwhile, internal migrations were perhaps more weighted with consequences from the social and economic development point of view.


He went on to stress that it was critical to take note of the dynamic role of population, and of migration, in elaborating the post-2015 development agenda.  Since migration was closely linked to national and international development problems — and to their solutions — the General Assembly had decided to hold a second High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.  For its part, the Commission had the opportunity this week to study changes in migration and their effects on social and economic development.  Those discussions would inform preparations for the High-level Dialogue, slated to take place on 3 and 4 October this year.


BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, described migration as “a fact of life in our globalizing world”, agreeing that this year’s key challenge was to pave the way for success at the High-level Dialogue.  “Migration offers challenges we must face and benefits we can harness,” he said, adding that it was not a question of whether to halt the movement of people across borders, which was impossible, but of how to plan for such movements and make the most of them.  International migration was a complex issue demanding a comprehensive solution.


Discussions over the years had helped to identify five key goals in that respect, he said.  First, to establish safe, legal channels of migration; second, to align migration policies with the demands of the labour market; third, to address the problems faced by migrants without legal status; fourth, to promote integration into host societies; and fifth, to facilitate return and circular migration, so that people could return to their home countries at the right time.  “There is also an overarching need to address the discrimination and abuse that migrants face, including human trafficking, sexual exploitation and scapegoating,” the Secretary-General stressed.


“Migration is often a hot-button issue,” he continued, calling for frank discussions, a spirit of compromise and the political will to find solutions.  Smaller countries continued to suffer when skilled people left, but they also benefited from remittances.  In destination countries, meanwhile, migrants often helped to alleviate labour shortages and promote economic growth, in addition to continuing to help their home countries through investment and trade.  Looking ahead, he said demographic shifts were under way, pointing out that the developing world’s youth population was growing.


“With education, employment and other opportunities, these young people can build stronger societies,” he said, adding that emigration could alleviate pressures in countries lacking sufficient numbers of jobs.  However, migration should not be the primary solution to the demographic challenge, he cautioned.  The best response to population trends was to implement the Cairo Programme of Action, which entailed empowering women, providing health care to all people, and educating the next generation.  “Population dynamics must be a factor as we shape a post-2015 development agenda that will meet people’s needs while protecting the environment,” he added, calling on participants in the session to work together in seeking common ground and advancing common goals.


BABATUNDE OSOTIMEHIN, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), highlighted the importance of migrants’ human rights.  “[M]igrants are not numbers, they are human beings endowed with inalienable human rights,” He emphasized.  Among priority areas in that regard were ratifying and implementing all core international human and labour rights instruments; calling for national action plans to promote awareness of migrant realities and fight xenophobia; and implementing existing frameworks to enhance access to social protection and services, including sexual and reproductive health services.  Further, migration should be mainstreamed into national development policies and plans as well as the post-2015 development agenda.  The contribution of migration to the development of both sending and destination countries must be recognized, he added.


Noting that women and girls now represented about half of all migrants, he said female migrants all too often suffered exploitation, abuse and trafficking across borders, especially in the unregulated and informal sectors in which they predominated.  Yet they had limited or no access to health and public services, including reproductive health services.  In addition, youth, constituting 12 per cent of international migrants, barely registered in migration debates and policies.  Their particular vulnerabilities, circumstances and needs as well as their potential to build social, economic and cultural bridges of cooperation across societies should be recognized, he said.  They needed access to education, decent work and health services to achieve their potential to contribute to inclusive social and economic development.


With people moving from rural areas to cities at an unprecedented rate, there was a growing number of urban poor — more than 850 million people — living in slums, most lacking appropriate services and sanitation, he said, calling for policies to promote sustainable urbanization.  “[B]ehind each demographic figure are real people,” he reiterated, emphasizing that they had their own aspirations and needs.  For that reason, a focus on human rights and dignity lay at the heart of the Cairo Programme of Action.  Reproductive rights were key to achieving those aspirations.  With the approach of the International Conference’s twentieth anniversary and preparations for what would happen beyond 2014, he encouraged all Governments to recommit to implementing its objectives and mobilizing the required resources to meet them.


In that regard, he welcomed the $2.6 billion raised during the 2012 family planning summit in London.  The highest unmet need for family planning was in sub-Saharan Africa, in countries with the highest rates of poverty and population growth, factors that often led people to migrate.  That connection between financial flows and population and migration flows resulted in part from the fact that women lacked the right to determine the number and spacing of their children, among other human rights.  For that reason, it was important to allocate adequate resources to all areas of the International Conference’s costed population package, which were interlinked and mutually reinforcing.  Solid migration policies were based on solid knowledge and evidence, areas in which UNFPA could offer support and collaborate with partners, he said.


SHAMSHAD AKHTAR, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, spoke on behalf of Under-Secretary Wu Hongbo, saying:  “This is a particularly opportune moment for a meeting to consider new trends in migration.”  There had been growing complexity in migration flows over the last 15 years as the world experienced increasing urbanization, and there were new sources and destinations of migrants.  Many countries had become source, transit and destination for migrants.  With a global debate led by the United Nations under way on the nature of the post-2015 development agenda, it was crucial to find ways to integrate population dynamics into that framework.


“The world is changing rapidly,” she continued, pointing out that the global economy was becoming increasingly integrated.  In the not too distant future, traditional patterns of international migration could become outdated.  The origins of international migrants had expanded and emerging economies were drawing more migrants.  Circular migration had also become more significant in recent years, with migrants feeding remittances and knowledge back to their home countries.  In that regard, migration should be recognized as a positive force for development, as it often enhanced the productive capacity of their home countries.  Meanwhile, it could relieve labour shortages in destination countries while spreading knowledge and ideas.


Safeguarding the human rights of migrants and their families — as well as those competing with them at home — was crucial, she said.  As the number of international migrants continued to rise, destination countries would increasingly need to integrate newcomers while fighting xenophobia and discrimination.  In addition, with the current “youth bulge” shortly to become a bulge in the working age group, there was a need to create new jobs in accessible locations.  There were currently no adequate global mechanisms to address those and other concerns, she stressed, calling for greater global collaboration.  Finally, she suggested that, with international and internal migration flows having proved difficult to analyse, the Commission should raise awareness of existing data gaps and of the need for more information.


JOHN WILMOTH, Director, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that over the past six years, the Division had strengthened the evidence base on international migration.  In collaboration with partners, it had expanded its long-standing work of estimating the number of international migrants residing in all countries.  With support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), methods for estimating the age of migrants, information critical for programme planning and advocacy, had been developed.  Collaboration with the World Bank had led to the Global Migration Database, the largest existing collection of census data on international migrants, which was crucial to describing migratory flows and analysing international migration’s impact on development, he said, adding that it also improved migration assumptions in world population projections.


The Division had also expanded its global monitoring of population policies, adding such categories as naturalization, dual citizenship and investments by diaspora communities, among others, he continued.  Widely recognized as contributing to attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, migration broadened opportunities for individuals and was a crucial means of broadening access to resources and reducing poverty.  It was important to bear in mind the impact of migration on development and human well-being in articulating the post-2015 development agenda and other activities of the Organization.  In the globalizing world, much work was needed to ensure that countries harnessed the benefits of migratory movements while minimizing potential negative impacts.  Migration must be safe, orderly and legal, and the human rights of migrants must be safeguarded.


Keynote Statement


The Commission then heard a keynote statement delivered by Graeme Hugo, Professor at the University of Adelaide, Australia, which was followed by a general discussion moderated by Mr. Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division.


Mr. HUGO said one of the biggest changes in population and development over the past four decades was that mobility was now part of the “calculus of choice” for many people around the world as they considered the course of their lives.  Today, migration was both a cause of developmental change as well as a result of it.  A number of dichotomies had recently emerged, proving that most migration issues actually existed in “shades of grey”.  Among those were forced versus voluntary mobility and skilled versus unskilled migration, he said, noting that, with regard to the latter, skilled migrants were increasingly being welcomed, while barriers against their unskilled counterparts were increasing, even in situations where there was an urgent need for them.


While data on migration had increased in volume, migration measurements were still not as accurate as other indicators, he said.  Concepts of migration had changed very little in the last three decades, even as migration itself had changed significantly.  Responding to those changes was a major challenge for policymakers, he emphasized.  Among the major changes in migration patterns were the increasing scale and significance of so-called South-South migration, as well as the fact that most migration was now circular or temporary in nature.  About one third of Chinese migrants to Australia returned home to China, he pointed out.  “This gives us an enormous array of opportunities for developmental impact in origin countries.”


Migration had also become more complex in terms of its diversity, he continued.  More than 3 million students were currently studying overseas and there had also been a great increase in “marriage migration”.  In addition, almost all net population growth in the near future would take place in urban centres, and 90 per cent of that would be in the urban centres of low-income countries, as facilitated by internal migration.  As for the forces driving migration, he cited differences in development, demography and democracy, adding that growing global social networks were an important factor in that regard, as most migration occurred along well-established networks.  Demographic drivers included the “youth bulge” in some countries, the increasing median age in others and reduced fertility in some high-income countries.  Regarding the economic arena, he described “talent wars” in which national wealth was no longer gold or other resources, but human capital.  Countries increasingly competed to attract high-level talent.


The environment would continue to be a driving force behind migration, but it would work in concert with social and economic forces, he continued.  “Migration is just one of the ways in which people will adapt to climate change.”  On migration and development, he stressed the growing recognition that, in the right context, migration could lead to positive effects for the migrant as well as the destination and origin countries.  It would take an appropriate policy context to accomplish that goal, a major challenge for the Commission.  While “brain drain” continued, tackling it in more sophisticated ways was another exciting challenge.  Finally, he reminded the Commission that the “the poorest of the poor” still lacked the option of migration, and that the relationship between poverty and migration was another major challenge.


In the ensuing dialogue, speakers agreed that migration as well as the characteristics of migrants had changed significantly in recent years, and many called for more research into the increasing trend of circular migration.  Others requested additional information about comparing national internal migration rates, the relationship between migration and fertility, and disaster management and migration.  Other questions focused on responses to climate change displacement and other emerging challenges.


Mr. HUGO responded by cautioning that comparing national internal migration rates was extremely difficult.  On the other hand, much research had been conducted on the relationship between fertility and fecundity, and some theories suggested that migrants adapted to the fertility rates of their destination countries over time.  On disasters and migration — an essential question given the increasing rate of disaster-driven human displacement — he said new policies were needed in light of recent progress on disaster response.


As for climate change, it did, indeed, threaten the existence of some States, and there had been increasing discussion about developing a global regime to address the needs of those displaced by climate change.  However, for countries to reach agreement on such a framework would be very difficult, he cautioned, warning also against the false dichotomy of “evil” illegal migration versus “good” legal migration, stressing that in reality the situation was not that simple.  “If I were a migrant, I would probably be an undocumented migrant,” he said, pointing out that it was often easier to exploit a legal migrant.  Overall, the situation was very complex, he added.


Participating in the discussion were representatives of Japan, Cuba, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uganda, Qatar, Nigeria, Jamaica and Indonesia.


During its afternoon segment, the Commission held an interactive discussion with migrant representatives.  Moderated by Kojo Nnamdi, host of The Kojo Nnamdi Show on United States public radio and a migrant from Guyana, it featured three panellists:  Fatumo Farah, Director of the non-governmental organization HIRDA; Natalicia Rocha-Tracy, Executive Director, Brazilian Immigration Center, Allston, Massachusetts; and Harold Fernandez, an immigrant surgeon living in New York.


Ms. ROCHA-TRACY said she had come to the United States as a nanny at the age of 17, as “everyone around the globe knows that this is a place of opportunity, where dreams come true.”  However, it had not been what she had expected.  The working hours had been long and she had been paid $25 a week for two years, she said, adding that she had eventually worked her way through school and broken away to start a new life.  She currently worked in a community of others like herself, advocating for immigrants’ rights, including the rights of those who were regularly exploited.


Ms. FARAH said she had arrived in the Netherlands 20 years ago, having had to leave Somalia because of civil war.  As a second year university student she had known that she must go somewhere safe.  She had not chosen the Netherlands, with which she was unfamiliar, but the country had been very welcoming, despite the difficulty of adapting to the new climate and language for the first two years.  Eventually she had been able to graduate from university and get a job, she said, stressing, however, that she had never forgotten the link to her home country, especially in respect of education for girls.  Education in Somalia was not important for a girl, but marriage was, she said, adding that she was always thinking about how to support girls in her homeland.


Dr. FERNANDEZ, describing how he had ended up in the United States, said he had lived through every aspect of the immigration debate.  His parents had come in search of a better life, while he had remained back in Colombia with his grandparents.  At 13, he had risked his life to come to the United States by boat, then lived as an undocumented immigrant, dreaming of getting into university.  He had got into Princeton, but then had had to admit to being undocumented.  Showing compassion, Princeton had admitted him anyway, and he was now a medical doctor helping others.


Asked to elaborate on his travel to the United States, he recounted how a trip that was to have taken hours had instead lasted for days.  He had boarded a small boat for the coast of Florida, leaving at midnight.  The trip had taken seven hours, he said, recalling that every time the boat had risen in the air due to rough seas, the passengers had thought it would split in half.


Ms. ROCHA-TRACY, asked why she had pursued education, replied that in her native Brazil, people of colour had limited access to education, particularly higher education.  Only 4 per cent of women of colour could earn a Bachelor’s degree.  Now a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University, she had worked her way through her entire education while raising a son.  Things had been very difficult for a black woman who spoke with an accent, but she had striven to show him that improving one’s life required hard work.


Ms. FARAH, asked how she had come to activism, said she had been born an activist, having noticed in her own family what was prevalent in Somali culture — that boys were preferred to girls.  In her second year of university, at 17 years old, a professor had asked who believed men and women were equal, and she had been the only one to raise her hand.  “I was born as an activist to promote the rights of women,” she reiterated, adding that upon her arrival in the Netherlands, she had seen education as a weapon for women and had felt it was important to “give back”.  She had gone through two years of university in Somalia and felt that she must help other girls.  She had started an organization to support girls’ education and to oppose female genital mutilation and early marriage.


Ms. ROCHA-TRACY, replying to the same question, recounted how she had seen the community of workers exploited every day through wage theft and other means.  In 2010, she had spearheaded a campaign for the rights of domestic workers, an issue she had understood from her own experiences.  The campaign had provided leadership training to teach workers how to advocate for themselves and fight for their rights.  Change would only come about through a people-driven change in policies and ideas, she said, adding that that was how her organization worked, in Boston and globally.


Dr. FERNANDEZ, asked to describe being a migrant at Princeton, described having received a letter from the Dean’s Office notifying him that he was a top student, and another two weeks later, from another office, requesting that he produce his green card.  The only green card in his possession had been purchased on the black market, he said, adding that, rather than expelling him for having used a false document, the President of Princeton had permitted him to complete his education.


Asked what had motivated him to re-establish his connection with Colombia, he said that attending school and not knowing whether his parents would be there when he got home, or if they would have been deported, and seeing how hard they worked and how badly they were treated had made him want to help.


MS. FARAH, responding to a similar question, said she had first returned to Somalia in 2011, 19 years after having left, as part of a diaspora organization assessing how to help.  Having lived previously in Mogadishu, and returning to a border area, she had seen a totally different picture of her country from the one she had carried at the time of her departure.  There had been suffering and mothers leaving their children on the street for lack of food.  That had inspired her to go on.


Ms. TRACY, discussing her ongoing relationship with Brazil, said she remained very connected to her home and family.  Most immigrants who came to the United States were mothers and fathers who had left their children behind and worked multiple jobs to send money back to help their families build a life back home, she said, explaining that she had taken her own son to Brazil so that he could understand his roots and not take his life in the United States for granted.


Ms. FARAH, asked about the potential impact of diaspora communities, said they were behind programmes to combat female genital mutilation and enhance education in Somalia.


Dr. FERNANDEZ described his work with immigrants advocating in favour of immigration reform in the United States.


Ms. ROCHA-TRACY addressed the issues of exploitation and forced labour, noting that there were few restrictions to bringing domestic workers into the United States.  Such workers were often underpaid and afraid to report harsh conditions for fear of being deported, she said, describing her efforts working with a national movement to combat such violations.


As the Moderator opened the floor for questions and comments, the representative of Pakistan asked about taxi drivers, gas station employees and delivery workers, in particular.


Dr. FERNANDEZ said that his parents, despite lacking higher education, had come to the United States seeking better opportunities.  “These people live in the shadows,” he said, describing immigrants’ perpetual fear of deportation.


The representative of Norway asked whether the panellists felt that immigrants should have citizenship and/or dual citizenship.


Ms. ROCHA-TRACY replied that there should be a pathway to citizenship.  “It doesn’t need to be quick, it just needs to be comprehensive,” she stressed.


The representative of Israel asked whether the panellists would support affirmative action programmes in higher education or preferential hiring processes.


Dr. FERNANDEZ said he supported affirmative action since it took into account a wide array of reasons why a candidate was, in fact, qualified.  “You can call if affirmative action, but it’s really looking at a whole individual,” he added.


Also participating in the interactive discussion were representatives of El Salvador and Niger.


Introduction of Reports


FRANCESCA PERUCCI, Chief, Demographic Analysis Branch, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, presented the report “New trends in migration:  demographic aspects” (document E/CN.9/2013/3), saying it recommended actions to promote the integration of migrants and enhance the contributions of migration to development.  It also showed major changes in the size, direction and complexity of migration, and highlighted how people increasingly moved across regions, while the percentage of migrants moving within the same region had decreased.


BRUCE CAMPBELL, Director, Technical Division, United Nations Population Fund, presented the report “Monitoring of population programmes focusing on new trends in migration:  demographic aspects” (document E/CN.9/2013/4), saying it highlighted UNFPA’s recent migration-related programme activities, focusing on international migration and including activities in the areas of global advocacy, capacity development, policy dialogue, data and research, and awareness-raising.


JOSE MIGUEL GUZMAN, Population and Development Branch, Technical Division, United Nations Population Fund, presented the report “The flow of financial resources for assisting in the implementation of the Programme of Action on the International Conference on Population and Development(document E/CN.9/2013/5), saying UNFPA worked with an expanding group of international partners to collect data and report on levels of international assistance and domestic financial resource flows for population activities.  The report analysed international and domestic financial resource flows, including for family planning services, basic reproductive health services, sexually transmitted diseases as well as basic research and analysis of data, population and development policy.


While donor assistance was increasing, it was also slowing, he said, pointing out that aid had risen to $11.6 billion in 2011 and had been projected to increase to just under $12 billion in 2012.  However, population assistance showed stagnation, and developing countries were funding a higher proportion in that area than called for in the Cairo Programme of Action.  In 2011, UNFPA had mobilized $54.7 billion in domestic resources, the highest ever, due principally to family planning in China, among other areas, but the gap could widen in 2012 and 2013 if the family planning projects did not continue, he warned.  Funding levels were insufficient to implement the Cairo Programme of Action and achieve the Millennium Goals.  More national investments were needed in developing countries, as most resources for population assistance were mobilized from a few major donors and, domestically, in a few large developing countries with most domestic expenditures coming from consumers rather than Governments.


General Discussion


AMENA V. YAUVOLI (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” and China, emphasized its support for the objectives of the Cairo Programme of Action and the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits.  However, despite progress in discussions and cooperation at the international level, migration was inadequately reflected in development frameworks and agendas, as well as in national and global sectoral policies, exposing migrants to negative public perceptions and inadequate protection of their rights.  Implementing the Programme of Action was crucial to eradicating poverty and achieving the Millennium Goals and other development targets, he stressed.


He said that exploring the complex relationship between development and international migration would contribute to ensuring that migration enhanced the development of both sending and receiving countries while protecting the human rights of all migrants.  It was also imperative to address the increasing economic disparities, environmental challenges and demographic growth factors that led to migration flows, he added, urging Member States to address the challenges and opportunities of international migration, both regular and irregular, in a balanced manner.  Calling on Member States to protect the unity of migrants’ families in host countries, he said that mobilizing international resources to eradicate poverty would enable people to remain in their own countries.  Destination countries must not enact legislative or administrative measures that would discriminate against migrants.  Underscoring the importance of women’s access to health care, he also called on Member States to reduce the costs of transferring remittances and to adopt policies that would enhance their impact.


CUI LI, Vice-Minister for the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China, associated herself with the Group of 77 and spotlighted the world’s increasing globalization as well as the expanding scale of migration, including “passive” migration.  She urged States to work to narrow the “wealth gaps” between countries and regions, and to incorporate migration into national economic and development plans.  It should also be used to help developing countries improve their quality of life and to promote sustainable development.  She went on to urge countries to promote the social integration of migrants and migrant families, and to provide them with basic social services, including reproductive health and family planning services.  The collection and analysis of data on migrants should be strengthened, she said, calling for policy dialogue to maximize the benefits of migration for origin and destination countries and for migrants themselves.  China would continue to enhance international cooperation in the area of population and migration, she pledged.


IGOR KHARITONOV ( Russian Federation) said it was necessary to agree upon concrete, balanced, non-politicized recommendations and decisions that would take all categories of countries into account.  Given the linkage between migration and development, comprehensive, fair and effective global strategies for migration and development were needed from the international community.  Migration helped to slow depopulation and the effects of aging populations, while enhancing productive capacity and human development, he said, adding that a globalizing world needed a comprehensive approach to migration issues, taking political, socioeconomic, demographic and human rights factors into account.  Reliable data, currently difficult to obtain, were an essential condition for successful policy, he continued.  There was a need to ramp up efforts to develop coordinated migration terminology and quality analysis of data.  This year, the Russian Federation would launch a three-year project in which experts from the Commonwealth of Independent States and European countries would join efforts to unify the methodological aspects of reporting migration flows, he said.


PATRICIA CHEMOR RUIZ, Secretary-General, National Council for Population of Mexico, said her country was working with neighbouring countries to manage migration flows and to facilitate the rights of migrants.  The great challenge was to develop a comprehensive migration policy based on full respect for the human rights of migrants, regardless of their status, and to address the unequal distribution of wealth.  That focus was important in the context of the upcoming High-Level Dialogue on Population and Development of the General Assembly, she said.  Recalling that 2013 marked 19 years since the International Conference on Population and Development, she reiterated her country’s commitment to the Cairo Programme of Action.  The aim now was to ensure that the objectives of the Programme of Action that had not yet been achieved remained relevant beyond 2014.  Mexico’s national programme involved a wide range of stakeholders and applied a number of indicators to assess its effectiveness.


OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), associating himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union, said his country played an active role in UNFPA, particularly in the areas of reproductive health and demographics.  Luxembourg supported several projects on maternal rights and reproductive health in order to promote family planning and access to emergency care in case of complications, as well as to prevent fistula.  It was also working with UNFPA and UNICEF on HIV/AIDS prevention and eliminating female genital mutilation.  He said his country attached great importance to migration because more than 44 per cent of its residents were of foreign origin.  Luxembourg had more than 190 nationalities, and more than 70 per cent of its working population came from abroad.  Emphasizing the importance of census data in designing policies, he said Luxembourg helped developing countries collect such statistics and was also helping to improve remittance transfers between host and origin countries.


OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said the grouping recognized the contributions of migrants to their home countries through remittances, and their engagement through culture, tourism, sports and investment.  However, their contributions to the economic and social development of the host countries were not taken sufficiently into account.  In addition, migrants were affected by the global economic and financial crisis, with their working and employment conditions worsening.  It was important to implement specific programmes to ensure that they had universal access to education and health services, regardless of their migration status.


Governments had the right to regulate the flow of migrants in and through their national territories, he said.  However, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States regretted any national regulations and measures criminalizing migration and restricting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants.  He called on Member States to end excessive detention periods for migrants who had not committed any crime, and to respect unconditionally the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants.  He also called for the elimination of laws with political objectives that discriminated against migrants due to their nationality.  Underscoring the importance of protecting female and child migrants through policies and programmes, he once again urged Member States to sign and/or ratify the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, as well as other international agreements aimed at protecting women.


PRINCE HLANGUSEMPHI, Minister for Economic Planning and Development of Swaziland, said that until fairly recently, international migration did not pose any development challenges to his country.  But that had changed between 2002 and 2005, when an exodus of doctors, nurses and other professionals had negatively impacted the national health sector’s capacity to deliver quality services.  Recent statistics indicated that during the period 1997 to 2007, emigration had increased from 51,004 to 106,220 persons, of whom the majority, or 89 per cent, had moved to South Africa, and to a lesser extent Mozambique, for better job opportunities.  The Government had devised interventions to stimulate equitable regional development with a special focus on the rural areas, which was intended to curb the influx of rural people into Swaziland’s two major cities.  The influx of people into Mbabane and Manzini had created tremendous stress on the infrastructure, environment and provision of social services, he said.  It had also resulted in high urban unemployment, rising crime levels, environmental degradation and the mushrooming of informal settlements and their attendant problems of congestion and squalor.


EMMANUEL ISSOZE-NGONDET, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and la Francophonie in charge of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and Regional Integration of Gabon, said migration had been affected by the global economic and financial crisis, by numerous political conflicts and by the effects of natural disasters and climate change.  While migration could have positive effects for both origin and destination countries, the recent changes had also led to challenges, in particular with regard to the human rights of migrants.  Another major challenge was the implementation of social and economic policies that enable States better to integrate migrants.  As a transit and destination country for migrants from other African countries, Gabon’s policy was based on its Constitution, which laid out respect for human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Immigrants living there enjoyed all such rights, with the exception of some political rights, he said, pointing out that a number of national laws specifically protected migrants’ rights, including against trafficking.


CUI LI, Vice Minister for the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China, said migration was having an increasingly important impact on her country’s economy.  As an origin country, China had seen outflow double between 1990 and 2010, yet inflow was now increasing.  Domestically, she noted, the urban population had exceeded the rural population for the first time in 2011, and now one of every six people could be counted as a migrant.  In the coming decades, domestic migration would remain high, she said, adding that the Government had observed economic development patterns and was integrating urban, rural and regional development with a focus on holistic human development.


Policies were being developed to promote access to basic public services and facilitate the social integration of rural migrants into urban areas, she continued.  Rapid urbanization accentuated the imbalance between urban and rural services.  Priority focus was given to areas such as compulsory education for migrant children, reproductive health and many other services.  A migration monitoring system was also being put in place as monitoring helped to improve understanding of migrants’ lives and served as a basis for policy.  However, many challenges remained, among them the need to reform institutional factors inhibiting migration, she said.  China was committed to scientifically based policy development and was working to improve fertility policy to promote long-term sustainable development.


MARGARET POLLACK ( United States) said her country supported orderly, humane and legal migration, noting that President Barack Obama had made comprehensive immigration reform a centrepiece of his immigration agenda.  Effective and humane international immigration policies could enhance stability and security, while promoting human rights, she said, calling for a meaningful and open dialogue with civil society as part of the Commission’s deliberations.  She went on to note that women migrants were often the victims of exploitation and sexual abuse, often lacking access to health care.  She also drew attention to young migrants and others belonging to vulnerable migrant populations, such as LGBT persons and the disabled.  She called for specific policies aimed at helping those groups and for the collection of data on the abuses to which migrants were subjected.


OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD ( Egypt) said migration was about people, human rights and development.  It offered endless opportunities to all humanity.  History had been shaped by waves of human migration, which also created challenges that must be tackled in a responsible and comprehensive manner.  Migrants were human beings and their rights must be protected, he said, calling for greater efforts to combat human trafficking.  Too many migrants, particularly women and young people, were victims of violence due to racial, ethnic and religious intolerance, which Egypt firmly opposed.  Special focus should be given to young migrants, who formed the majority and were most affected by the risks of migration.  At the same time, they often contributed the most to both origin and destination countries.  He went on to emphasize the need to reduce the cost of transferring remittances and to strengthen international, regional and bilateral cooperation on migration issues. 


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*     The 1st Meeting was covered in Press Release POP/1006 of 27 April 2012.


For information media • not an official record