Globalization and Interdependence Item 22(b): International migration and development

Ms. Shamshad Akhtar Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Development of DESA, Secretary General’s Special Advisor of Economic and Finance to the Second Committee of the General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

International migration is a global phenomenon that continues to grow in scope, complexity and impact.

The issue of international migration has gained increasing importance in the global development discourse. The General Assembly’s second High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development next year would provide an opportunity for a comprehensive review of this phenomenon.

Report A/67/254 tabled today on international migration and development sets the stage for these high-level discussions by presenting the latest migration evidence, by reviewing migration partnerships and cooperation, and by proposing modalities for next year’s Dialogue.

First, let us look at the evidence.

Out of the 214 million international migrants living in the world today, some 150 million originate in the global South.

To start of, one needs to acknowledge the development impact of migration. With two-thirds of all migrants originating in the global South and with South to North migration doubling in 20 years, the impact of migration on development is huge. Remittances, return and circular migration, high-skilled emigration, and diaspora investments are all triggered by migration flows. According to the World Bank, remittances increased by 12 percent in 2011 to US$370 billion. The costs of transferring remittances remain high, however, due to a lack of competition and limited transparency.

Protection of migrant workers is another area of concern. Only sixty-eight million migrants, one-third of the global total, reside in countries that have signed at least one of the three conventions to protect migrant workers and their families. Recent adoption of the new ILO Convention for domestic workers gives hope that key challenges affecting migrant workers can be addressed.

Irregular migration is yet another concern to Member States. Human trafficking and migrant smuggling remains a challenge and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is leading worldwide efforts to combat these crimes.

Policymaking and public discourse require accurate, timely, and relevant data and analysis. The 2010 round of population censuses has not made significant progress in providing globally comparable migration information. If we are to make progress in promoting the positive impacts and addressing the negative consequences of migration, we must improve the evidence-base.

Second, let us review partnership and cooperation.

The Global Migration Group, established by the Secretary-General in 2006, provides a useful framework for collaboration between 15 UN entities and the International Organization for Migration. To improve its coherence, the Group is currently assessing how it can better support Member States in addressing migration challenges and opportunities;

A second example of interagency collaboration is an inventory of good practices and lessons learned on migration and development that is being prepared under the auspices of the Chief Executives Board. This inventory will provide a system-wide contribution to the High-level Dialogue.

Another example is the annual interagency coordination meeting on migration, organized by the Population Division of DESA. This meeting includes an intergovernmental panel, an interagency coordination segment, as well as expert presentations. The coordination meetings have facilitated information exchange, dialogue and coherence for over a decade.

Third, the report proposes some ideas for the High-level Dialogue that you may wish to consider as the basis for your deliberation and drafting of the resolution. The key themes on which more debate is warranted is on

(i) How best to leverage diaspora contributions for development?
(ii) How to promote legal and orderly migration, while protecting migrant rights?
(iii) How to effectively mainstream migration into the development agenda?
(iv) How to strengthen partnerships and cooperation on international migration?

These topics would hopefully help in developing an action oriented plan that promotes wanted, orderly and safe migration that benefits host and home countries and protects migrants and their families. Such a plan, if agreed, could be submitted to the General Assembly. Appropriate civil society consultation would be beneficial.

Mr. Chairman,

Next year, the General Assembly will debate international migration at the highest political level for the second time in its history. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the meeting will be a success.

Let me share with you some elements that I believe would contribute to a positive outcome.

First, the Dialogue should be action-oriented. In 2006, the Dialogue created the Global Forum as an incubator of ideas. After six years, the Forum has collectively generated ideas. Now, it is time to take one step further and to make a difference on the ground. The United Nations stands ready to assist you in doing that.

Second, the Dialogue should pave the way for mainstreaming migration into the post- 2015 United Nations development agenda.

Distinguished delegates,

The United Nations has a role to play in promoting mobility, in leveraging migration for development, and in improving the plight of migrants who face discrimination and abuse.

We have made much progress, but that is no reason to be complacent.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.