first meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development

Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Chair of the Global Migration Group to the first meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development Brussels, 10 July 2007

Your Royal Highness Prince Philip, Prime Minister, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the honour of addressing you at this first meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in my capacity as Chair of the Global Migration Group.

The Global Migration Group was established in April 2006, bringing together the heads of nine United Nations entities working on international migration, as well as the International Organization for Migration. Its aim is to promote a wider application of all relevant norms relating to migration and to seek to improve the policy and operational responses of the United Nations and the international community to international migration.

Since its inception, the Global Migration Group has played an important role in guiding the United Nations debate on international migration and development, including during the run up to the General Assembly’s High-level Dialogue on the subject last September. The Group’s members contributed to the report of the Secretary-General to the Dialogue. They also organized various activities and events and, at the invitation of the President of the General Assembly, participated in two preparatory Panels. The members of the Group thus provided support to Member States and helped shape the Dialogue itself and its outcome.

Today’s meeting embodies that outcome. Indeed, as the Secretary-General observed, Governments have decided to continue the dialogue that began at the United Nations last year. Your presence and active engagement in this process underscores that international migration can be a positive force for development for both countries of destination and countries of origin

We, members of the Global Migration Group, are convinced that collaboration among States is key, not only to tapping this potential, but also to strengthening it. We are also very much aware of the challenges that certain aspects of international migration pose to States and to the individuals and families that migration touches. We believe that better strategies to confront those challenges can be forged through international dialogue and cooperation.

Excellencies, distinguished participants,

This Global Forum and the Global Migration Group are both works in progress. Expectations regarding what each may deliver are high. But those participating in each process recognize that we are venturing into largely uncharted territory. In this context, outcomes matter, but the process itself is also proving to be of considerable value. In particular, preparing for this first Forum has already generated improved coordination at the national level in many countries.

Within the Global Migration Group, we have been working to exchange information and to enhance coordination among ourselves, so as to develop synergies among out activities. Just as international migration is a multi-faceted, dynamic process, our areas of expertise are varied and our modes of cooperation are evolving.

In this first meeting of the Global Forum, several of the Group’s members have been collaborating with Governments and the Belgian Chair by providing expertise or technical support. Some members have seconded staff. Others have organized Round Tables. Yet others have assisted in the preparation of background papers. Members of the Global Migration Group have also been responding to the requests for migration-related services presented by Governments at the “Marketplace” that UN/DESA helped organize as a contribution to this and future Forum meetings.

Clearly, Governments are the primary actors in this Global Forum. It is up to you to develop the strategies that you wish to follow in addressing international migration and development issues. We, members of the Global Migration Group, look forward to continuing to support your activities, insofar as our mandates and areas of expertise allow.

By striving to work as a Group, we hope to respond to your needs more coherently and effectively. A more regular exchange of information between the Group and those organizing each meeting of the Global Forum would enable us to devise better ways to support the work of the Forum.

We are keen to build on the momentum that the Forum is generating in order to improve the coherence of our work on international migration and development at both the national and international levels.

Under the leadership of its previous Chair, the Director General of the International Organization for Migration, the Global Migration Group has produced a number of compilations that we hope are useful to your work. I note, in particular, a survey on best practices related to the themes of the Forum and another one on capacity building activities by members of the Group.

We fully share the hope expressed by the Secretary-General that more links may be established between the Global Migration Group and the Global Forum – so that the international institutional system and the voluntary, informal intergovernmental dialogue embodied by the Global Forum may reinforce each other. I look forward, during the next six months, while I Chair of the Global Migration Group, to finding new ways of collaborating with the Government of the Philippines in providing substantive support for the Forum’s second meeting.

Thank you, Mme. Chair.

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