Maximizing the benefits of international migration

The Second Committee of the General Assembly is scheduled to debate international migration and development on 27 October

The Secretary General’s report on international migration and development (A/65/203) highlights that globally the number of international migrants in 2010 is estimated at 214 million, up from 195 million in 2005. Females account for 49 per cent of the total. Six out of every 10 international migrants (128 million) reside in developed countries and the majority (74 million) originated in developing countries. Although the economic crisis has slowed down the increase in the number of international migrants in developed countries, new migrants have continued to arrive: 12.8 million between 2000 and 2005 and 10.5 million between 2005 and 2010.

While the economic crisis has implied rising unemployment for everyone, unemployment rates among foreign-born workers have risen faster than those among native workers in developed countries, partly because the main employment sectors for migrants ─ construction, manufacturing and finance ─ have been particularly affected. Yet, most migrants are staying in their countries of residence and return flows have been moderate.

Despite recent economic difficulties, the international community has continued to pursue strategies that leverage international migration for development, including by lowering the transfer costs of remittances and fostering the involvement of expatriate communities in promoting investment and entrepreneurship in countries of origin.

The report documents the activities of the 14 members of the Global Migration Group (GMG) and other relevant stakeholders to expand their engagement with Member States in order to mainstream international migration into poverty reduction strategies, to protect the rights of all migrants, to combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling, and to build capacities for improving the evidence base for the formulation of policies that maximize the benefits of international migration. The report shows that at least US$ 240 million have been allocated to multilateral activities on international migration and development since 2007.

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), a State-led, informal consultative process that emerged from the 2006 High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development has met three times since 2007. Of the 114 recommendations produced by the Forum since 2007, 27 have been followed up by one GMG member and 75 by two or more members. The number of follow-up actions per recommendation increased from 2.4 in 2007 to 2.6 in 2008 and further to 3.9 in 2009, a sign of growing GMG engagement.

With the attention that Member States are giving to international migration, efforts to improve the statistics on international migration are gaining momentum. The availability of databases compiling information on the stocks, flows and characteristics of international migrants has increased and there is great potential for using the results of the 2010 round of population censuses to obtain a global characterization of international migrants that would lay the groundwork for assessing the impact of migration during the second High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development that the General Assembly will hold in 2013.

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High-level review of the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation

On 24-25 September, the 192-member United Nations General Assembly came together to review the progress made in addressing the vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States in achieving sustainable development through the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy

The event was attended by close to twenty heads or deputy heads of State and Government, heads of many UN agencies and regional commissions, and approximately seventy Major Groups.

Highly vulnerable to climate change, natural disasters, and the vagaries of international finance and trade, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face unique challenges as they seek to promote economic growth, improve the quality of life, and protect their distinct environments.

The high-level review session provided the international community with an opportunity to discuss the way forward based on the assessment of the progress made, lessons learned and constraints encountered in the implementation of the agenda agreed five years ago in Mauritius.

At the event, countries discussed ways and means of strengthening the resilience of SIDS noting the efforts the small islands have made on their own initiative, while stressing the need for the international community to play an even more critical role in helping the islanders make progress in addressing their vulnerabilities and in supporting their sustainable development efforts through more targeted assistance and partnerships.

The meeting began with a high-level opening session, in the General Assembly Hall, and was followed by two multi-stakeholder roundtables, on “Reducing Vulnerabilities and Strengthening Resilience of SIDS” and “Enhancing International Support for the SIDS”, and thereafter by an interactive dialogue on cross-regional perspectives led by panelists from the three main SIDS’ regions to ensure cross-regional representation. The interactive dialogue addressed common cross-regional issues and priorities for the way forward.

The highlight of the event came during the closing session, when the General Assembly adopted the Political Declaration. The Declaration acknowledges the commitment demonstrated by SIDS to promote sustainable development over the past five years, and also recognizes the important role that the international community has played in this regard.

However, the Declaration also highlights that many challenges that still affect SIDS. Through the Declaration, both SIDS and the international community commit to continue to work together in addressing these constraints, including in priority areas such as climate change, energy, food security, tourism, biodiversity, and conservation of coastal and marine resources.

In closing, the Declaration also requests the Secretary-General to conduct a comprehensive review and examine ways to enhance the coherence and coordination of the United Nations system’s support for SIDS.

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