|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference to Launch ‘World Migration Report 2010’
In a world where demographics, economic needs and the effects of climate change were set to spur rising numbers of migrants, Governments and intergovernmental organizations needed to invest adequate financial and human resources to ensure that societies — and migrants themselves — reaped migration’s full potential, Michele Klein-Solomon, Observer for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to the United Nations, said today.
“Migration is here to stay […] and is set to increase,” Ms. Klein-Solomon said at a Headquarters press conference to launch IOM’s flagship publication, World Migration Report (WMR) 2010: The Future of Migration: Building Capacities for Change. “The challenge for the future will be in how to manage it.” She noted that the launch was taking place just ahead of the 18 December commemoration of International Migrants Day.
She said the report identified key migration dynamics and trends, citing, among other main drivers, declining population rates in industrialized countries coupled with stagnant job growth in the developing world; income disparities; poverty and conflict; and globalization. She said that since most Governments today lacked the capacity to deal with the long-term challenges posed by increasingly complex migration issues, the report identified six main policy areas likely to undergo great changes due to developments in migration, as well as 10 ways within each policy area by which Governments could build their capacities.
Noting that migration was intrinsically tied to globalization, she said: “We live in a world that is mobile. Capital, goods and services move across the world and it’s only natural to assume people will do the same, regardless of Government policies.” Indeed, today it was possible to move from very distant places with very little effort or resources. “So efforts to stop migration are not likely to be effective,” she said, stressing that IOM’s main message was that migration was potentially a positive force for individuals and societies, and that the real challenge was to manage it in such a way as to protect migrants’ rights while ensuring that the countries involved benefited.
The perception was that all migration was from the global South to the global North, she said, pointing out, however, that in reality, population movements between and among developing countries would perhaps have an equally significant impact over the next 30 years. For example, climate change, which would continue to exacerbate existing environmental degradation, would be one of the main drivers of migration, added. Droughts, floods and deadly storms or other weather anomalies would most severely impact countries of the global South with lagging capacities to cope with such extreme weather events. All estimates showed that, while climate change was certain to put millions of people on the move, much of that movement would be in-county or in-region, she said.
Another key message from the report was that very few countries had taken a hard look at those migration dynamics and put in place the national or inter-State cooperation measures needed to manage it effectively. “By ‘manage’ I don’t mean ‘stop’ or ‘control’,” she said, underscoring that ‘management’ meant facilitating legal migration, combating and reducing the incidence of irregular migration, and creating the cooperative means between States to do that.
The capacity-building recommendations and suggestions set out in the report were therefore targeted at all Governments, even those that had traditionally been associated with immigration, she continued. For example, while both Ireland and Mexico had historically been recognized for their populations living abroad, they had both become important transit and destination points over the past 20 years. That trend was spreading around the world, she said, adding that countries in similar circumstances needed to take a “fresh look” at migration so as to develop polices that not only protected their citizens living overseas, but which also dealt with migrants coming into their own societies. That trend also required the creation of flexible polices to facilitate rapid adaptation to new circumstances.
“The final message is that it's not too late,” Ms. Klein-Solomon said, emphasizing that by investing in some of the key capacity-building measures identified in the report, the international community could come to a better appreciation of the patterns and dynamics of migration “and a better way to help ensure it’s a positive force for the development of societies and for individuals”.
Providing a snapshot of IOM’s work she said the focus of its upcoming sixtieth anniversary would be raising awareness about, and helping to curb, rising discrimination and racism against migrants in many countries around the world. That trend was not limited to the United States or the West, she stressed. “It’s happening worldwide and is very much of concern to us.” The agency was working to ensure that the rights of all migrants were protected, wherever they might be, and to combat negative stereotypes.
She said her New York Office worked as IOM’s liaison to the United Nations in the panoply of work that the world body undertook to ensure the promotion and protection of migrants’ rights, including questions relating to internal displacement, forced displacement, integration and development rights. It also worked to facilitate migration as a positive force for development, she added.
The Observer’s Office worked with, among others, the General Assembly and its Second (Economic and Financial) and Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committees. It also followed closely the work of the Security Council, particularly its actions in the area of post-crisis reconstruction, where the return and stable reintegration of displaced populations was a fundamental aspect of peacebuilding. For example, IOM had been charged with working with the Government of Southern Sudan to facilitate out-of-country voting for citizens living in eight countries of the diaspora.
She said the aim was to ensure that as many Southern Sudanese as possible participated in the democratic process, set for early January, that would determine whether Southern Sudan would become a separate country. IOM was also working inside Sudan on displacement and discrimination issues, and was concerned, as were many international observers, about the possibility of further displacement in the wake of the country’s forthcoming referendums.
Responding to several questions, she said racism and xenophobia were on the rise around the world and migrants were the prime targets. It was not limited to one particular race, ethnicity or religion, she added. As for Islamophobia, she said IOM supported the work of the United Nations-backed Alliance among Civilizations in promoting tolerance and dialogue to defuse tensions among cultures. “We believe that we need to open up channels for dialogue and make sure better information gets out,” she said. “We have to work very hard to counter all negative stereotypes,” she added, noting that it was quite common in times of economic difficulty “to point to the other” as the genesis of problems whereas that was largely never the case.
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