CONTRIBUTION OF MIGRATION TO DEVELOPMENT HIGHLIGHTED, AS POPULATION COMMISSION OPENS CURRENT SESSION
CONTRIBUTION OF MIGRATION TO DEVELOPMENT HIGHLIGHTED, AS POPULATION COMMISSION OPENS CURRENT SESSION
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Commission on Population and Development
2nd Meeting* (AM)
Contribution of migration to development highlighted,
as population commission opens current session
Migration Benefits Both Sending, Receiving Countries, Speakers Say
Given the migration-development nexus, the time was ripe for a sober, frank and constructive discussion on international migration and its contribution to development, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Jose Antonio Ocampo, said today as the annual session of the United Nations Population Commission got under way at Headquarters.
The 47-member organ of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) assesses implementation of the 1994 Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), and advises the Council thereon. With the number of international migrants at nearly 200 million, the week-long session will be devoted to international migration and development. Members hope to contribute to the High-Level Dialogue on the topic, to be held in New York just ahead of the General Assembly, on 14 and 15 September.
The world needed to understand what everyone here knew to be true: in general, international migrants were enterprising individuals with much to contribute, both to their host countries and to their countries of origin, Mr. Ocampo said. If managed properly, international migration had been and would continue to be advantageous for both sending and receiving countries, and, from a global perspective, international migration had an overall positive impact on development. He pointed to the contribution of enterprising migrants in countries of destination, growing importance of workers’ remittances to countries of origin, and the social and cultural enrichment of both sending and receiving countries.
Perhaps more than any other issue, migration put into stark relief the enormous social, political, economic and cultural transformations occurring in a world divided by excess and need, said Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The international migration landscape had changed dramatically over the last decade. Growing gaps between rich and poor, an expanded global economy, geopolitical transformations, wars, and ecological disasters had profoundly impacted people and their desire to leave their homeland. Migration was a development issue. For industrialized countries, immigration helped to ease the pressure brought by a declining population and a dwindling tax base; and for developing nations, migration relieved unemployment and population pressures.
Although demography was not destiny, it certainly shaped it, the Director of the Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Hania Zlotnik, said. For example, for at least a decade now, high-income countries had been experiencing labour shortages in certain sectors of their economies, particularly in those where jobs could not be exported. Consequently, as overall employment rose during the boom years of the 1990s, so did migration. Whether authorized or not, workers from developing countries were taking the jobs that did not find takers in developed countries at going wages. Some low-income countries, particularly small island States and African countries, were having difficulties delivering basic services because of the high emigration of their skilled workers.
In the exchange of views that followed the opening remarks, South Africa’s representative, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the relationships between international migration and development were numerous and extremely complex. The current era of increased global economic integration, quicker and cheaper transport, high mobility of people, and information and communication technology provided a new context, and, if well-managed, migration had the potential to be “an enabler” of improved and integrated global, regional and national development strategies. Steps should be taken to, among other things, reduce transfer costs of the migrant remittances to developing countries and train unskilled workers to offset the loss of skilled persons from developing countries.
When managed effectively, the links between migration and development could have a substantial positive impact, both for the host country and the country of origin, Austria’s speaker on behalf of the European Union said. For more than 10 years, the Union had been developing a common migration policy framework and increasingly moving towards a comprehensive approach to migration and development. It sought an approach that addressed regional and Pan-African dimensions of migration so as to facilitate cooperation between countries of origin and transit and the Union. Also important were combating illegal migration, protecting migrants’ human rights, and ensuring their equal access to health and education and equal treatment before the law as first steps towards their successful integration.
In other business today, Torres Salmeron ( Mexico) was elected by acclamation to serve as Vice-Chairperson for the thirty-ninth session. He joined the following Vice-Chairpersons elected on 8 April 2005: Majdi Ramadan ( Lebanon); Albert Graf ( Germany); and Ewa Fratczak ( Poland), who will also serve as Rapporteur for the session.
For the members of the Commission and additional background information, please see the Background Press Release POP/942 of 30 March.
Introductions of reports of the Secretary-General were by: Bela Hovy, Chief, Migration Section, Population Division; Francois Farah, Chief, Population and Development Branch, Technical Support Division of the UNFPA; and Ann Pawliczko, Population and Development Branch, Technical Support Division, UNFPA.
Additional statements in the general discussion were also made by the representatives of Bangladesh, Iran and the Russian Federation.
Representatives of the following United Nations Commissions also spoke: Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
The Population Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow to continue its general discussion.
The United Nations Commission on Population and Development opened its one-week session at Headquarters this morning. The 47-member subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was devoting its thirty-ninth annual session to follow-up actions to the recommendations of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. With its focus this session on international migration, it was seeking to contribute to the High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, to be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 14 and 15 September.
JOSE ANTONIO OCAMPO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that, over the years, the Commission had built a strong record of addressing difficult issues on the basis of solid factual analysis. Given the development challenges facing the world, it was perhaps more important than ever to ensure that policies and programmes to address them were firmly rooted in reliable evidence and objective analysis. The Commission was meeting at a time of wide-ranging United Nations reform, with the efforts on Economic and Social Council reform and United Nations coherence having a direct bearing on the Commission’s work. A reinvigorated ECOSOC could enable an effective integration of the work of the subsidiary bodies so as to guide and monitor the implementation of strategies to attain the development goals set by the United Nations conferences and summits.
With the Commission’s special theme this session of migration, he said it was excellently placed to make a major contribution to the General Assembly’s High-Level Dialogue in September. The Commission’s deliberations could build, not only on the documents prepared for the session, but also on the report of the Global Commission on International Migration released last October, as well as on the recommendations on international migration and development made by the United Nations conferences and summits. It was up to the Commission to set out the substantive foundation for the Dialogue, to ensure that the analysis presented made the best possible use of the evidence available and to continue to dispel the many commonly held myths about international migration.
The Commission also had a special capacity to raise awareness about the existing -- and significant -- information gaps, he said. Overcoming those gaps needed to be a top priority, for everyone knew that, without sound information, policy responses would most likely remain inadequate.
He said that, in considering the migration-development nexus, it must be recalled that migration was an integral part of the ongoing development of both sending and receiving countries, regardless of their current development level. So the real subject here was international migration and global development, not only of economies, but of societies, bearing in mind that the implications of international migration played out differently, depending on a country’s stage of development and also other factors, such as size and location relative to the more dynamic economies.
From a global perspective, international migration had an overall positive impact on development, he noted. In theory, efficiencies flowing from a less restricted global exchange of labour should contribute to higher rates of world economic growth. Other positive, and not exclusively economic, consequences could be observed. Look, for example, at the enormous contribution of enterprising migrants of countries of destination, the growing importance of workers’ remittances to countries of origin, and the social and cultural enrichment of both sending and receiving countries.
He said that the economic, social and cultural benefits of migration depended crucially on safeguarding and ensuring respect for the rights of migrants and their families. Indeed, to the extent that migrants could be exploited or abused with impunity, everyone lost: the migrants; the native workers that could not compete with those who were paid exploitive wages; and the society that was tarnished by such exploitation and must confront the problems of marginalized populations. The success of migration hinged on respect by States and by migrants of their respective obligations and of the rule of law. It relied on the mutual adaptation of migrants and the receiving society. And it required the unequivocal commitment of Governments to defend every person from the scourges of racism, ethnocentrism and xenophobia.
There was much to gain from collaboration of countries of origin and destination to forge partnerships that fostered effects of migration and promoted migration through legal channels, he said. That collaboration was all the more urgent because migration took place today in a context of enormous demographic and economic disparities. The best estimates indicated that migration from developing to high-income countries had been growing fast, and he expected that trend to continue over the medium term.
He said that one widely recognized strategy for ensuring that migration contributed to the development of communities of origin was to leverage the impact of remittances by, for instance, providing access to financial services so that the families of migrants could secure credit to invest. Another was reducing the costs of remittance transfers, which was fortunately under way in a growing number of remittance corridors. Experimentation should continue with ways to promote the engagement of migrants abroad in the development of their home communities and countries. A variety of strategies were being tried, including direct and financial investment by migrants in their countries of origin and support by migrant association to their communities of origin, as well as knowledge transfers to countries of origin.
Indeed, he continued, a major challenge of migration today was the high mobility of the highly educated or skilled. The more countries developed, the more they needed skilled workers. Yet, developing countries also needed persons with skills, particularly those involved in providing basic services, such as health and education, as well as in new dynamic activities associated with the spread of information and communication technology. To address the needs of developing countries in that respect would probably require a global approach to the formation of human capital based on the principle of solidarity. Collaborative arrangements and partnerships to train required skilled personnel and to improve working conditions in home countries were urgently needed. Otherwise, the “brain drain” might continue to have an adverse effect on development in several developing countries in the coming decade.
In conclusion, he said that migration was an integral part of development, and the need for migrant workers would continue, if not increase, in the coming years, particularly in light of high-income countries. The world needed to understand what everyone here knew to be true: in general, international migrants were enterprising individuals with much to contribute, both to their host countries and to their countries of origin. If managed properly, international migration had been, was and would continue to be, advantageous for both sending and receiving countries. Clearly, the time was ripe for a sober, frank and constructive discussion on international migration and its contribution to development for all. In fostering and guiding the direction of the greater collaboration among the parties involved, the Commission on Population and Development had an important and indispensable role to play. He wished its members every success in its deliberations and looked forward to a most productive outcome.
THORAYA OBAID, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said international migration brought to the surface the need for greater understanding and dialogue and for vision and leadership that rose above fear and focused on common humanity. Perhaps more than any other issue, migration put into stark relief the enormous social, political, economic and cultural transformations now occurring in a world divided by excess and need. The international migration landscape had changed dramatically over the last decade. Growing gaps between rich and poor, an expanded global economy, geopolitical transformations, wars, ecological disasters and other occurrences had profoundly impacted people and their desire to leave their homeland.
The issue of international migration was critically important to the United Nations system and to multilateralism as a whole, she said. It represented a test of the world’s response to globalization, a world where borders were increasingly open for the flow of capital, goods and information and closed to the free flow of people. Yet, despite the obstacles, people continued to move. Most of the time their motivation was simple -– they wanted a better a better life for themselves and their families. During the last 50 years, the number of international migrants had more than doubled to some 200 million. Today, more people lived outside their home country than at any other time in history.
Migration was a development issue, and there was a need to build and strengthen capacity to meet the many challenges it posed, she said. Migration could contribute to the important global agenda of reducing poverty and bringing people closer together. Policy options were available to maximize the benefits of immigration and minimize the risks. For industrialized countries, immigration offered a source of labour to ease the pressure brought by a declining population and a dwindling tax base. For developing nations, migration relieved unemployment and population pressures. It was becoming increasingly clear that remittances sent back home played a big role in reducing poverty. But transaction costs were still too high, and remitters were at the mercy of predatory institutions and individuals. Governments could do much to maximize the proportion of remittances that got through and ensure the speed and security of the process.
Women comprised almost half of the world’s international migrants today, she said. While some found increased autonomy and freedom, others were found in gender-segregated and unregulated sectors of the economy, at risk of gender discrimination, violence and abuse. In the worst cases, they became the victims of ruthless traffickers. There was an urgent need to integrate gender and human rights into migration policies and for nations to work together to curb trafficking and bring traffickers to justice. Another area of migration was the brain drain of health workers to industrialized nations. Many countries, particularly in Africa, were suffering from a sever shortage of doctors, nurses and other health workers who had migrated. The brain drain of health workers was an urgent issue that deserved an urgent response.
On the issue of financial flows for the implementation of the Cairo Programme of Action, she said the good news was that the flow of resources for population assistance was on the rise. Donor assistance had doubled in the past five years, and domestic expenditures had also risen. Current funding levels, however, were not sufficient to meet current needs. The majority of resources were mobilized by a few major donors, and there had been a pronounced shift towards funding for HIV/AIDS at the expense of other vital population activities. During the past decade, funding for international family planning had dropped more than half of all spending on population assistance to less than 10 per cent, with real implications for women and their ability to exercise their human rights and plan their families. It was a serious problem that needed to be urgently addressed, as there were some 200 million women in the developing world with unmet contraception need.
The highest unmet need for family planning was in sub-Saharan Africa, where one in four married women wanted to use family planning but had no access to those services, she added. It was vitally important that adequate resources were allocated to all areas of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)-costed population package because they were all interlinked and reinforced each other. The challenge was to continue to mobilize the resources required to implement the ICPD agenda to meet current human needs and promote human rights. That was particularly important to achieve the Cairo goal of universal access to reproductive health by 2015. Given the importance of reproductive health to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the issue of financial flows to implement the ICPD Programme of Action should figure prominently on the Commission’s agenda.
HANIA ZLOTNIK, Director, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), said there were an estimated 190 million migrants in the world, and about half of those were women. There was no typical migrant, but they contributed much to the global economy, through hard work, courage and a willingness to take risks to succeed. The World Bank estimated that the addition of 14 million migrants over 10 years would increase the labour force of high-income countries by three per cent and raise incomes for all -- the natives of high-income countries, developing countries and the migrants, themselves. But, migration not only improved economic outcomes -- it was also “part of the glue” and tied “us” together with “them”. Although the process of mutual adaptation between host societies and migrants might not always proceed smoothly, in the end, there was no doubt that migration enriched the social and cultural fabric of receiving societies.
Nevertheless, she said, most of today’s migration was the result of disparities -- economic, social and demographic. Average incomes in high-income countries were 15 times higher than in middle-income countries and 60 times higher than those of low-income countries. So, the potential gains from migration were very large. In addition, because developed countries were farther along the path to population ageing than the rest of the world, they were poised to see their working age populations decline. Today, developed countries still had 14 persons ready to enter the labour force for every 10 persons likely to leave it, but in just 10 years, there would be only nine young persons aged 20 to 24 for every 10 persons aged 60 to 64. Without migration, the expected deficit of young people in developed countries would be even greater.
At the same time, developing countries today had 34 persons aged 20 to 24 for every 10 people aged 60 to 64, and an excess of young people relative to the old would persist well into the century, she said. Faced with a growing labour force, most developing countries were having trouble creating a sufficient number of decent jobs for the large number of young people entering the labour market every year. Although demography was not destiny, it certainly shaped it. For at least a decade now, high-income countries had been experiencing labour shortages in certain sectors of their economies, particularly in those where jobs could not be exported. Consequently, as overall employment rose during the boom years of the 1990s, so did migration. Whether authorized or not, workers from developing countries had been taking the jobs that did not find takers in developed countries at going wages. In a number of developed countries, sectors such as agriculture or the hotel and restaurant business depended on migrant labour.
Furthermore, she said, as more women in developed countries joined the work force, they could no longer fulfil the unpaid occupations that they used to control. There was growing demand, therefore, for migrant women to assist with domestic work or child and elderly care. Shortages in the nursing and teaching professions were also related to the improving work status of younger generations of women. Today, young women in developed countries often chose to become doctors, lawyers, business managers or university professors in their own right, instead of opting for the traditional female occupations of their mothers’ and grandmothers’ time.
In fact, owing to globalization, part of the international division of labour was playing itself out within national boundaries, she said. As the populations of developed countries became more and more educated, they were unlikely to find fulfilling those physically demanding jobs that did not require much creativity or initiative. Today, 56 per cent of persons aged 20 to 24 in developed countries were enrolled in tertiary education. So, not only would the work force of the future in those countries be smaller, it would also be far more highly trained than their parents. Developed economies, therefore, needed to promote the continued expansion of the knowledge economy that was to provide the high-quality jobs for that qualified labour force.
She said that developing countries were also realizing the importance that tertiary education had for maintaining and enhancing the long-term viability of their economies. Over the past two decades, there had been an upsurge in the number of students from developing countries getting an education abroad. Furthermore, realizing that it was better to train students at home, developing countries were encouraging, or even underwriting, the establishment of “branch campuses” of developed-country universities in their territories. China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Qatar, Singapore, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates were among the countries hosting those international campuses. The trend towards “internationalizing” education was accelerating as Governments, universities and corporations recognized that there was a global shortage of highly trained workers and were taking steps to expand their numbers.
The growing demand for skilled personnel led to yet another facet of international migration: its role in redistributing skills worldwide, she said. Between 1990 and 2000, the developed countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had gained nearly 8 million migrants with tertiary education. That group accounted for 46 per cent of the increment in the number of migrants aged 25 years or older in those countries. Although a higher proportion of those highly skilled migrants originated in other developed countries or received their tertiary training in the developed world, many of those both originated and were trained in developing countries.
She said that economists pointed out that the countries where skilled migrants originated not only lost their investment in the education of those migrants, but were also more likely to see their development prospects compromised by the scarcity of the professional and technical personnel needed to spur productivity and generate economic growth. Although the evidence on the long-term effectiveness of the emigration of skilled persons was mixed, there was no doubt that some low-income countries, particularly small island States and countries in Africa, were experiencing difficulties in delivering basic services, such as health and education, because of the high emigration of their skilled workers. International cooperation was needed to address that problem.
Initiatives could include the cessation of the active recruitment of skilled workers from poor countries, the development of strategies to train skilled workers in the countries or regions that needed them, and the provision of training and tools appropriate to the environments in which skilled personnel would work, she said. In the health sector, for instance, there was a need to improve the availability of basic equipment and supplies in the clinics of poor countries and to ameliorate the working conditions of health personnel.
She said that, for the first time, the populations of major areas of the world would decline as a result of low fertility, rather than because of epidemics or war. Eventually, all populations around the globe would move along the same path, but over the next few decades, developed countries would experience rapid population ageing that, together with increased education, would produce unprecedented social and economic change. The articulation of that change with the opportunities opening up as development accelerated in a growing number of developing countries would be an important determinant of future migration. The international community had wisely acknowledged the key role that international migration could play in facilitating development and improving economic outcomes. The current Commission session was the first opportunity for Governments to consider the various aspects of the migration and development nexus, with a view to setting the stage for the High-Level Dialogue in September.
BELA HOVY, Chief, Migration Section, Population Division, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the world population monitoring, focusing on international migration and development (document E/CN.9/2006/3). International migrants had increased by 36 million over the past 15 years to reach 191 million by 2005. Concluding that migration was spiralling out of control would be unjustified, however. Between 1990 and 2005, the global migrant population had increased by 23 per cent, about the same as the world population as a whole. In fact, the growth of the migrant population had slowed down: the increase in the global number of migrants between 1990 and 2005 was five million lower than between 1975 and 1990.
The majority of international migrants were located in only a few countries, he said. In 2005, three quarters of all migrants were hosted by the 28 largest receiving countries. In contrast, international migrants constituted less than 10 per cent of the total population in two thirds of all countries. A growing share of the world’s migrants was hosted by the more developed regions. Many countries had actually experienced a reduction in the number of migrants. Available data suggested that the proportion of migrants from developing countries in developed countries had risen rapidly since 1990. In Canada and the United States, more than 80 per cent of all recent immigrants originated in developing countries. The proportion of women and girls in global migration was high and increasing.
Following the resolution of some long-standing conflicts, fewer people had been forced to cross international borders, and millions of refugees had been able to return home, he said. Although asylum had dominated much of the migration debate in recent years, particularly in Europe, family reunification continued to be the cornerstone of immigrant admissions, accounting for more than half of the total intake. A number of countries, however, had imposed stricter rules for family reunification leading to a reduction in the family migration stream. In parallel with the decline in admissions on the basis of humanitarian and family considerations, there had been a steady rise in labour migration, both of highly-skilled, as well as of low-skilled workers.
Turning to the demographic impact of international migration, he said the report highlighted some important differences in regional experiences. Europe’s population, for instance, would have declined since 1995 had it not been for migration. In developing regions, migration levels were difficult to establish with accuracy. Regarding key destination countries in the less developed regions, one of the largest concentrations of migrants was found in the oil-producing countries in the Middle East. By 2005, those countries had hosted some 13 million migrants, most of whom were temporary workers. The number of international migrants in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, a more recent region of destination, had risen sharply, to over 3 million by 2001.
Remittances were one of the clearest expressions of the impact of migrants on development, he said. In 2004, migrants had remitted some $226 billion through formal channels, 64 per cent of which were received by developing countries. For migrating countries, the net economic impact of international migration was generally positive. Although the presence of international migrants might have a small adverse effect on the wages of non-immigrants or may raise unemployment when wages were rigid, such effects were small at the national level. Over the medium and long term, migration could generate employment and produce net fiscal gains. Yet, international migration could also have less positive outcomes. One was the loss of skilled personnel through emigration. Particularly in smaller developing countries, the delivery of essential public services was at risk due to the emigration of skilled workers.
Governments had increased their efforts to address irregular migration, he said. Since 2000, at least 14 regularization programmes had been carried out, regularizing the status of over 2 million migrants. By some estimates, half of all migrants who entered countries clandestinely did so through smuggling and trafficking. To harness the power to produce positive outcomes and to mitigate negative impacts, countries had concluded many bilateral agreements in recent years, ranging from regulating the flow of migrant workers to readmitting migrants in an irregular situation.
As international migration was fostering a growing interdependence between more developed and less developed countries, there was need to explore common interests and policies that worked, he concluded. Unfortunately, the lack of reliable data severely limited the effective monitoring and evaluation of migration policies.
FRANÇOIS FARAH, Chief, Population and Development Branch, Technical Support Division of the UNFPA, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on Monitoring of Population Programmes, Focusing on International Migration and Development (document E/CN.9/2006/4). The report looked at international migration in the broader context of development and poverty eradication. It sought to ascertain the extent to which migration could facilitate or impede development processes in both sending and receiving countries on the individual migrants, including female and young migrants. It also put forward policy considerations to facilitate mutually beneficial outcomes for all parties concerned, including countries of origin, transit countries and destination countries.
International migration had become a global issue and must be a central part of the global development agenda, he said. Today, migration affected almost every country in the world, either as point of origin, transit or destination, and often, all three at once. With the decline of fertility in some parts of the world, the sustained ageing process, and the significant change of population structure, migration had taken on increased significance, becoming an important component of population growth, in many countries. In addition, increasing migration flows had resulted in growing international attention to such complex issues of xenophobia, discrimination, racism, human trafficking, human rights of migrants and most recently, terrorism and national security.
Of particular significance was the increased number of female migrants, he said. While women were playing an increasing role in international migration, many women migrants were concentrated in gender-segregated and unregulated sectors of the economy. The report focused in particular on the impact of a range of migration issues on development such as brain drain, remittances, the Diaspora and return migration.
On the issue of remittances, he said they represented a significant amount of capital sent from developed to developing countries on a regular basis. In many recipient countries, migrant remittances increasingly played an important role in sustaining national and local economies. If transfers that went through informal channels were added to the official statistics, remittances could be as high as $300 billion. They were larger than official development assistance (ODA) and more than foreign direct investment (FDI). In addition to financial remittances, migration had been a critical vehicle for transmitting “social remittances”, including new ideas, products, technology and information.
The report highlighted many policies and programmes that could positively contribute to the development of countries of origin and maximize the benefits and minimize the negative consequences of migration. The gender dimension and gender equality, however, should be an integral part of any policy formulation, planning, programme delivery and monitoring. Sound migration policies and effective programmes required adequate and reliable migration data and country capacity to respond to the challenges of migration.
Concluding, he noted that international migration, notwithstanding its complexities, was a manageable human phenomenon and was a drive that had considerable potential to enhance human dignity, contribute to social and economic development and promote dialogue among nations.
ANN PAWLICZKO, Population and Development Branch, Technical Support Division, UNFPA, introduced the Secretary-General’s report entitled “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.9/2006/5). The report analysed international and domestic financial flows that were part of the “costed population package” as described in the ICPD action plan. It included funding in the following initially established categories: family planning services; basic reproductive health services; sexually transmitted disease activities; and basic research, data and population and development policy analysis.
She said that the action programme estimated that the cost of implementing the package in developing countries and countries with economies in transition would be $18.5 billion annually by the year 2005. Approximately two thirds of the cost was expected to come from developing countries, and one third, or $6.1 billion, from the international donor community. There had been a positive increase in funding for population activities. Donor funding for 2004 stood at almost $5.3 billion, and domestic expenditures amounted to $14.5 billion. Together, donor funding and domestic expenditures for population activities yielded a global estimate of $19.8 billion. Estimates for 2005 showed that donor funding had increased to $6.1 billion, and domestic resources stood at $14.9 billion, for a total of $21 billion.
If those estimates proved to be correct, however, and if the goals were met, “we will definitely not meet our needs”, she said. That was because the targets had been fixed based on experiences as of 1993. Since then, both costs and needs had “skyrocketed”. The population and health situation in the world was very different today. Costs had risen astronomically, and the value of the dollar was far lower. The sad reality was that the ICPD targets were out of date and not sufficient to meet today’s evolving needs. She needed only to take the example of costs and needs related to HIV/AIDS. It was estimated that in 1994, 14 million people were living with HIV/AIDS, whereas that number had increased to almost 40 million in 2004. The ICPD target for the prevention of STDs and HIV/AIDS had been $1.4 billion in 2005; last year the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimated that $8.4 billion was required for prevention in 2006.
She stressed that the ICPD goals were essential for meeting the Millennium Development Goals, but there must be adequate resources to do so. That would only come about when donor countries, international agencies and developing countries strengthened political will, re-examined priorities and increased allocations for population activities. That would also come about when everyone intensified collaboration between donors and recipients to avoid duplication, identify funding gaps and ensure that resources were used as efficiently as possible. “We can, and we must, rise to the challenge.”
Exchange of Views
V. MADONSELA, Director-General of the Department of Social Development of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, reaffirmed the Group’s commitment to the implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action and the key actions for its further implementation. He noted with concern that resource mobilization for the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action remained inadequate for addressing current needs, especially in the areas of mother and child health. The relationships between international migration and development were numerous and extremely complex. The current era of increased global economic integration, quicker and cheaper transport, high mobility of people, and information and communication technology provided a new context within which the movement of people between countries should be understood.
There was no question, he said, regarding the primary responsibility of the State for the welfare of its people. The Group remained committed to taking bold steps in the fight against poverty and hunger. The ability of developing countries to do so was hampered by other imperatives. Speedier and deeper debt relief, along with increased ODA flows and fairer terms of trade would further enable developing countries to make greater progress in meeting their needs and hopes for a better future.
Today’s world offered great opportunity for human resource development, skills and knowledge transfer, trade, and enhanced income distribution between countries, he said. Those opportunities would only translate into development if all people could gain reasonable access to them. Inequality within and between countries continued to create differential access to the opportunity for people to develop to their full potential. In that regard, migration could place many people in a position of better access to resources for development. Indeed, well-managed migration had the potential to be an enabler of improved and integrated global, regional and national development strategies.
Historically, migrants had often been deprived of their rights and subjected to discriminatory and racist actions and policies, including exploitation and persecution, he added. At the 2005 World Summit, Governments had reaffirmed their resolve to take measures to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of migrants, migrant workers and members of their families. A further concern was women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, which was greatly increased in an environment of social exclusion and exploitation. Specific attention should be paid to understanding the relationship of migration to the Millennium Development Goals.
He emphasized the need to adopt policies and undertake measures to reduce the cost of the transfer of migrant remittances to developing countries and welcomed the efforts of Governments and stakeholders in that regard. The migration of skilled persons from developing countries deprived their populations of much-needed human resources. It was for that reason that it was necessary to seek ways to encourage the circulation of expertise through the Diasporas by creating better knowledge through the use and transfer of information, knowledge and skills.
Noting that resources directed to the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action had been consistently below target, he appealed to donors, United Nations organizations and other international organizations to enhance their financial and technical support to developing countries, including the field of capacity-building. It was for that reason that the Group supported the principle of a multi-year work programme with a two-year planning horizon, as it would add further value to the Commission’s work and would improve its focus on meeting the internationally agreed development goals.
THOMAS NADER, Director, Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, said that, for more than 10 years, the Union had been developing a common migration policy framework and was increasingly moving towards a comprehensive approach to migration and development. Its conclusions on migration and external relations, adopted in November 2005, recognized that migration could be an essential part of the development agenda. The links between migration and development were complex, but migration, when managed effectively, could have a substantial positive impact both for the host country and the country of origin. The Union was developing ideas on, among other things, temporary and circular migration and return. There was a need for an approach to address regional and Pan-African dimensions of migration so as to facilitate dialogue and cooperation between countries of origin and transit and the Union.
Also important in the context, he said, was to focus on preventing and combating illegal migration. Information campaigns targeted at countries of origin could also be considered with the aim of helping people understand the rules for admission into the various European member countries. At the same time, priority should be given to the integration of legal migrants for the benefits of migrants and their hosting societies alike. Another important aspect of migration and development was the need for regional solutions. That was the basis for the dialogue with the Union’s Mediterranean partner countries and the African Union. According to recent statistics, 60 per cent of all recorded migrants were found in the world’s more prosperous countries, with the other 40 per cent in developing countries. Despite that trend, large numbers continued to engage in South-South migration moving from one developing country to another. Nearly half of all international migrants were women, and those outnumbered men in developing countries.
He said that immigration constituted a major part of population growth in more developed countries, particularly in Europe. Between 1990 and 2000, immigration accounted for 89 per cent of the population growth in Europe. Considering the declining and ageing population of the European Union countries, managed migration might contribute to countering that trend. Meanwhile, the human rights of migrants must be protected, and development could not be achieved at the expense of human rights. The specific needs of women and children must be considered since more than half of global migrants were women, and many were children. Migrants were especially vulnerable to human rights violations. Access to health, education, and equal treatment before the law and the protection of migrants’ rights and safety were a first step towards a successful integration of the migrant population.
Steps being taken by the Union to improve the contribution of migration to development fell into the following main areas, he said: dialogue between States and regions; capacity-building in support of partner Governments’ efforts to develop national legislation and institutional capacity; ensuring that the high levels of remittances did not cause a decline in ODA; avoiding the brain drain, or shortages of trained personnel in key sectors, especially the health sector; and deepening mutual understanding of the Diaspora.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY ( Bangladesh) said that migrants were seen, more and more, as agents of development. They could strengthen cooperation between home and host societies and contribute to development, not only through remittances, investment and entrepreneurial activities, but also through transfer of newly developed skills, knowledge and technologies. Contemporary views on migration departed from the traditional neoclassical premise of “push-pull” factors. The new theory considered that, like most other economic flows, migration operated as an equilibrating mechanism at national and international levels. Liberalization of policies could generate significant welfare gains. That led to superior development outcomes and to “win-win” for both sets of countries and for the individuals involved.
He said that many developed countries were now trending towards rapid increases in dependency ratios. Labour surplus economies, on the other hand, were fraught with the huge burden of unemployment. That asymmetry was the mainstreaming determinant of labour migration. The net economic impact of international migration was generally positive for receiving countries and contributed substantially to relieving the fiscal burden on future generations. At the same time, the movement of skilled personnel from poorer to richer nations created a “paradox of reverse” development in sending countries. Their markets were depleted by the departure of their most productive and qualified members, which warranted remedial measures.
Multilateral negotiations offered a framework to address migration, he said. Receiving countries could take advantage of the benefits by addressing temporary and long-term labour shortages, alleviating demographic challenges caused by the ageing population, and reducing the pressure of illegal immigration by providing an alternative through temporary movement. Short-term movement could also mitigate the negative effects of the brain drain by encouraging the return of qualified nationals. Migrant workers bore the high economic, social, and political costs of their migration and were often vulnerable to exploitation. Women migrant workers were often stereotyped into low-paid work. Efforts were needed to reduce that vulnerability and ensure that migrant’s human rights and legal status were fully protected.
Facilitating remittance flows had potentially high payoffs, he said. Host countries must ensure unhindered transfer of funds to the countries of origin with minimal transaction costs. Sending countries should also help migrants use remittances properly, invest back home, and reintegrate upon return. The various schemes introduced by Bangladesh, such as the Wage Earners’ Development Bond, Non-Resident Foreign Currency Deposit Account and National Savings Scheme, had attracted more remittances. Those made a significant contribution to the gross national product (GNP) and helped offset negative balance of payment in the current account. Better results could be achieved by considering the close inter-relationship between migration and development. Also necessary was to promote dialogue and cooperation at the national and international levels.
NIKOLAY V. CHULKOV ( Russian Federation) commended the Secretary-General’s report, which provided a good basis for further discussion of the various aspects of international migration. Given the significance of migration for the development of society within the context of globalization, a priority should be mitigating its negative impact, while bolstering its positive effects. There was a clear link between the problem of international migration and the follow-up to implement the decisions of the Cairo conference. It was important to define the list of issues on which the Commission should focus within the context of its mandate. The Commission had a leading role in properly assessing the situation and developing decisions and recommendations that targeted the demographic aspects of migration. He supported clear, concrete and non-politicized recommendations that could be useful at the High-Level Dialogue in September.
He said the Russian Federation had advocated support for implementing the Cairo objectives within national priorities in the area of population. An important element of reviewing progress achieved was high-quality analysis of the problems of international migration. He agreed with the core idea of the Secretary-General’s report on the link between migration and development, and supported the need to combine the efforts of sending, transit and receiving countries. He also noted the role of immigration in slowing down population decline, creating new jobs and alleviating the financial burden for future generations in receiving countries. Of particular importance was the analysis of the link between migration and the changing age profile of countries. He looked forward to a productive review of the issue during the Commission’s session.
The trend towards depopulation in many developed countries, along with population ageing, had led to a drop in the number of people of working age in those countries, he said. The flow of migrants towards labour markets could compensate for population loss and overcome its negative economic consequences. One of the most important issues was that of brain drain for sending countries. The surge in international migration and its complex structure required an in-depth analysis of the reasons for migration. In that regard, there was a clear need for further study and joint efforts by the United Nations on the issue of simplifying and reducing the transaction costs for remittances.
One of the preconditions for a successful migration policy was reliable statistical data on international migration, he said. One of the major requirements was the need to address the basic methodological issue of developing comparable statistics on migration. A consistent system of information collection on the number of migrants and their movements was also needed, as was the need to improve the quality of statistical data and understanding of trends between migration and development. The success of the September meeting would depend on how the Commission would focus on the aspects of migration that rested within its mandate.
HOSSEIN GHARIBI ( Iran) said the theme of this year’s session was opportune for his delegation, as Iran fell within all categories concerning migration -- as a receiving country, country of origin and transit country. It was crystal clear that dealing with the multidimensional theme fell beyond the current geographical or political groupings of States and required a global comprehensive policy with the participation of all stakeholders. The international community urgently needed a global normative approach to the entire issue of international migration in all its aspects regardless of biased political orientation. To that end, the General Assembly’s High-Level Dialogue in September provided an opportunity to create global consensus on the issue.
Such consensus, he added, should fully and clearly recognize the effective potential of migrants to the development of receiving countries with regard to the services they provided as a prelude to respecting their human rights in accordance with international legal instruments and domestic law where applicable. Any discrimination as to race, religion and nationality was unacceptable. The gap between developed and developing nations and the imbalances in population growth rates had fostered illegal migration, resulting in, among other things, trafficking in women and young girls and drug trafficking. He supported measures to curb such phenomena with a long-term vision to address its root causes. In that regard, he welcomed bilateral and multilateral arrangements among States in a regional context.
ISRAEL SEMBAJWE, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), presented details of ECA’s activities and African perspectives on international migration. The 2005 World Summit had highlighted issues of migration and development, as well as issues of refugees and internally displaced persons. Those topics directly affected peace, security and development in Africa, yet in the past, they had received less programmatic support and attention by the ECA.
Despite financial and other constraints, the ECA continued to be proactive and vigilant in promoting activities on international migration, he said. He called attention to future plans, including a major policy event in Brussels, Belgium, in April with African regional partners and European partners, and a second interregional exchange between project stakeholders from Maghreb and West Africa, planned for later in the month in Rabat, Morocco. The Commission would also play an active role at a meeting on international migration organized by the International Organization for Migration for the Southern African countries, to be held from 21 to 23 April in Windhoek, Namibia.
DIRK JASPERS-FAIJER, Director of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Demographic Centre (CELADE)-Population Division, noted that during ECLAC’s thirty-first session in Montevideo, Uruguay, the Demographic Centre-Population Division had presented documentation on international migration, including a working document entitled, “International migration, human rights and development in Latin America and the Caribbean: summary and conclusions”. The Centre had sought to strengthen countries’ capacity to address issues relating to international migration. To that end, it had used various mechanisms, including technical assistance missions to countries in the region. International migration, already a crucial issue in the region, would become even more compelling in the future.
The document presented at the session sought to provide guidelines to the Governments of the region to enable them to face up to the most important challenges and opportunities for development arising from migration, and to outline a cross-cutting approach to the human rights of migrants and their families. The first part of the study presented an overview of the current context in which migratory movements were taking place, with particular attention to the forces of globalization, the upsurge in transnationalism and initiatives launched with a view to achieving migration governance. The document’s central message was that international migration was a question of development and of rights. That required the promotion of comprehensive measures that would ensure that international migration was managed from a Latin American and Caribbean perspective. A resolution adopted at the session, among other things, called for the creation of an inter-agency group on migration to be coordinated by ECLAC.
KEIKO OSAKI, Chief, Population and Social Integration Section, Emerging Social Issues Division, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said that international migration was an important concern for ESCAP, as 58 million of the 191 million people living outside their home countries, or more than one third of all international migrants, lived in Asia and the Pacific. While a few countries in the region could be characterized as either key countries of origin and destination, a growing number had become both receiving and sending countries. Given the widening disparity between countries in terms of their economies and labour supply and demand, coupled with economic interdependence, mobility of people in the region was growing both in scope and complexity. International migration had now become part of the region’s economic, social and political fabric.
She said that temporary labour migration was the predominant form of migration within Asia. Most migrants who were allowed into countries within the region were brought in to fulfil some specific tasks and then were expected to return upon the completion of their work. The oil-producing countries in Western Asia and the newly industrialized economies of East and South-Eastern Asia continued to be the hubs of temporary labour migration. By contrast, permanent settlement was the main feature of international migration in Pacific Island countries and territories. Out-migration to Australia, New Zealand and North America had resulted in the low population growth or population declines in many Pacific countries.
With a view to improving the understanding of the linkages between international migration, development and poverty, ESCAP had carried out a wide range of activities in the field of international migration and development, she said, drawing members’ attention to several of them. Among those, ESCAP, in collaboration with the UNFPA, the IOM, and the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, had organized a regional seminar on the social implications of international migration, held in Bangkok, Thailand, in August 2005. Through its recommendations, participants urged Governments and international organizations in the region to expand regional cooperation to address the issues of regular and irregular labour migration. There was an urgent need to further develop measures to counter trafficking, especially in women and children. It was also recommended that greater attention be given to the situation of children migrants and to unaccompanied minors. Hopefully, those and other regional issues and concerns would be properly addressed at September’s High-Level Dialogue.
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* The 1st Meeting of the thirty-ninth session was held on 14 April 2005.