FEMINIZATION OF MIGRATION, REMITTANCES, MIGRANTS’ RIGHTS, BRAIN DRAIN AMONG ISSUES, AS POPULATION COMMISSION CONCLUDES DEBATE
FEMINIZATION OF MIGRATION, REMITTANCES, MIGRANTS’ RIGHTS, BRAIN DRAIN AMONG ISSUES, AS POPULATION COMMISSION CONCLUDES DEBATE
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Commission on Population and Development
5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)
FEMINIZATION OF MIGRATION, REMITTANCES, MIGRANTS’ RIGHTS, BRAIN DRAIN
AMONG ISSUES, AS POPULATION COMMISSION CONCLUDES DEBATE
Migratory movements were as old as humankind, as people crossed borders in search of a better life or livelihood, or in the rush to flee a failed State or natural disaster, the Commission on Population and Development was told today, as it concluded its general debate with a focus on the benefits and pitfalls of migratory flows for countries of origin, transit and destination.
Nowadays, women were increasingly migrating as the main economic providers, or “breadwinners” for their households, the Director of the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), Carmen Moreno, said. Women constituted 49.6 per cent of global migratory flows, though the proportion varied significantly by country and could be as high as 70 to 80 per cent in some cases. The “feminization of migration” had also produced specifically female forms of migration, such as the commercialized migration of domestic workers and caregivers, the migration and trafficking of women for the sex industry, and the organized migration of women for marriage.
In migrating, women made the courageous decision to place their families’ well-being above their own, she said. Paid domestic work was increasingly performed by women who left their own countries and communities, and often their families. Domestic service drew not only women from poor socio-economic classes, but also women of relatively high status in their own countries. In the developed world, the combination of women’s increased participation in the workforce and the failure to develop family-friendly labour policies and childcare options had led to a strong demand for migrant women. Migrant women had become central to women’s freedom in the developed world, but their contribution was undervalued.
Seeking to coax Thailand’s 2.2 million illegal migrants “out of the dark”, that country’s representative said that, faced with that huge challenge, the authorities embarked on a “regularization” policy in 2004 by encouraging employers to persuade their employees, who had entered the country illegally, to come forward and register. In June, the Government extended the work permit for several hundred thousand registered migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic for another year. To assist Thai workers abroad, the authorities set up one-stop service centres and information campaigns to raise awareness of prospective migrant workers about societies in destination countries, as well as to help them stay clear of predatory criminal organizations.
Over the centuries, practically every community had found a place in the Indian crucible, that country’s representative said. Some had come as students in pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, others as traders or invaders. In the latter half of the twentieth century, Indians went as emigrant workers to the oil-rich Gulf and as professionals in such fields as medicine, engineering, and finance to Western and other countries. There were now more than 20 million people of Indian origin overseas, including those with Indian nationality. But “brain drain” could be translated into overall gain, and India had managed to do that, recording remittance inflows of $21.7 billion in 2005, the highest in the world.
The United States, however, was host to nearly 25 per cent of the 200 million migrants worldwide, its speaker said. A fundamental premise of America’s democracy was that it did not limit citizenship by birth or background. While migration had clear benefits for all concerned, those benefits could be maximized only when migration was managed effectively. Irregular migration, however, remained a pressing concern. It placed individuals at great risk, making migrants, particularly women and children, vulnerable to harm and abuse. The United States remained committed to protecting the human rights of migrants and to combating migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons. The United States also condemned manifestations and acts of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against migrants, and hate crimes against migrants were prosecuted under United States law.
Statements in the general debate were also made by the representatives of Uruguay, France, Norway, Poland, Lithuania, Canada, Zambia, Mexico, Gambia, Peru, Bulgaria, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Jamaica, Algeria and Spain. The Permanent Observer of the Holy See also spoke.
Also participating in the discussion were representatives of The World Association of Former United Nations Interns and Fellows (WAFUNIF) and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.
Keynote addresses were delivered today by: Margarita Escobar, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs for Salvadorans Living Abroad; and J. Edward Taylor, Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California at Davis.
The Commission also considered an agenda item on programme implementation and future programme of work of the Secretariat in the field of population, for which it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on that topic (document E/CN.9/2006/6). It was introduced by Armindo Miranda, Senior Population Affairs Officer, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Contributing to that discussion were the representatives of the United States, Switzerland, Norway, and France. A speaker from the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) also participated.
The Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 6 April, to continue its work.
The Commission on Population and Development met this morning to continue its general debate on international migration and development. (For further information on the Commission’s session, see Press Release POP/942 of 30 March.)
NURY BAUZAN DE SENES ( Uruguay) said her country’s identity was based on the phenomenon of international migration. In recent decades, it had become fundamentally a sending country, requiring new approaches to assert the right of its citizens abroad. Those policies, while taking into account elements of fundamental security, sought to ensure the full respect of the rights of workers, and ensure lasting respect for the values that had made her country one of refuge. The phenomenon of migration had become one of the most decisive items on the international agenda. Uruguay promoted the human rights of migrants and their families, including by promoting the universalization of international conventions and the outcomes of international conferences, which contained explicit reference to the need for Governments to ensure the enjoyment of migrants’ rights. In the fight against discrimination it was necessary to bear in mind double or multiple discrimination. Greater international cooperation was needed to fight the scourge of trafficking and the existence of contemporary forms of slavery.
A gender perspective was progressively becoming part of national and international legal instruments, she said. In that regard, Uruguay stressed the need for countries to establish a degree of equivalence between domestic legislation and international commitments. Remittances, in most cases, were savings, which migrants, out of their meagre income, sent to their loved ones. Due to voluminous figures, the phenomenon had been seen strictly from an economic perspective. Remittances should be seen, rather, from a social approach, as immigration and remittances were not something to be celebrated. She added that organization among migrants was important. In that regard, she stressed the need for community meetings, the existence of interlocutors to deal with the problem of insertion and dialogue with host Government authorities.
Emphasizing the need to respect international human rights commitments, she said Governments had the primary responsibility to ratify international instruments and ensure due implementation at the national level. The international community also had an important role to play in providing the fundamental support for those actions through international cooperation. Organized civil society also played a crucial role in promoting and protecting migrants’ rights. At the regional level, Uruguay had encouraged work being done in the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the South American conference on migration. It also encouraged the idea of dialogue within the hemisphere on the issue. The Commission must produce substantive results that would contribute to future discussion on the issue.
Mr. BUTOR ( France) said that migratory movements were as old as mankind itself. That complex phenomenon was both collective and individual, and all countries of his region had a unique history with respect to migration. There was a great deal of missing data throughout the world in terms of the people who came to a destination country, as well as the remittances they sent home. It was important, therefore, not to adopt a rigid, inflexible framework, since data was lacking and the situation was fluid. In order to gain a better understanding of its migratory movements, France had regularly published statistics. It was an important destination country, both for asylum and family migration. It had just instituted, for immigration, a contract for integration, which began as a draft law developed by the Council on 24 March and adopted by the Parliament. France was also committed to implementing the Cairo Action Programme.
He said that managed migration was necessary for all developed countries. The challenge was to promote and strengthen the impact of migration, both for countries of origin and transit. The link between migration and development could only be effective in combating poverty with consistently vigilant attention. Migration policies must be part of a comprehensive global “logic”. The training of migrants in developed countries should enable them to use their benefits to the advantage of their homelands when they returned. Remittances required a variety of approaches, including by facilitating those flows, so as to leverage development in a positive way. More thinking was needed on that subject and more actions should eventually be taken. France had been one of the first countries to take action in the area of “co-development”, meaning the matching of migrants in France to projects in their countries of origin. That had demonstrated its potential on the ground in such places as Mali and Morocco through voluntary programmes, where the individual was the co-financier and entrepreneur. The practice was gradually expanding, including in France’s own region of Western Europe.
NAN KENNELLY ( United States) said that before turning to the subject under review today, her delegation wanted to take a moment to comment on one aspect of yesterday afternoon’s discussion of national experiences. One delegation’s highly politicized remarks concerning bilateral migration relationships were inappropriate for this setting. Many countries in the room had difficult bilateral relationships and concerns relating to the range of topics reviewed by the Commission, including issues relating to migration and population policies. When it came to the Commission, however, such bilateral matters were put aside, in recognition that the Commission was a technical body. The United States would not bring bilateral issues into the Commission unless others chose to do so.
Turning to today’s discussion, she said the United States was a nation of immigrants. In fact, the United States estimated that, of the 200 million migrants worldwide, nearly 25 per cent currently lived in North America. As the Secretary-General’s report notes, one in every five migrants lived in the United States. Immigration to the country had contributed to a diverse and multicultural society. Many prominent Americans, including members of the United States Congress, were immigrants or children of immigrants. America’s welcoming environment was due to more than cultural tradition: it was one of the fundamental premises of its democracy that the United States Constitution did not limit citizenship by birth or background.
As a country built on immigration, the United States had tremendous experience in addressing the challenges of migration, she said. While migration had clear benefits for all concerned, those benefits could be maximized only when migration was managed effectively. The United States encouraged humane and orderly migration through legal channels. Irregular migration, however, remained a pressing concern. Irregular migration placed individuals at great risk, making migrants, particularly women and children, vulnerable to harm and abuse. The United States remained committed to protecting the human rights of migrants and to combating migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons. The United States also condemned manifestations and acts of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against migrants. Hate crimes against migrants were prosecuted under United States law. Protection of those feeling persecution was also a United States priority. The United States also had a robust asylum process for those migrants who had a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country. The United States also welcomed refugees from overseas, for whom resettlement was the appropriate durable solution. More than 2.5 million refugees had been resettled in the United States since 1975.
She added that the United States was continually reviewing its immigration policies and procedures to ensure appropriate treatment of migrants and was fully committed to the integration of migrants into American society. Helping immigrants become productive members of the country was a task shared by civic organizations, faith-based groups and businesses, as well as federal, state and local government. Her country was also steadfast in its commitment to the schooling of children and had implemented several programmes to ensure that all children had access to education, regardless of immigration status. Family reunification for legal immigrants was also a cornerstone of United States immigration policies. In 2004, the United States had granted legal permanent residence to some 950,000 immigrants, over 80 per cent of which were family members of United States citizens or legal residents. The transition into American society was greatly eased by the support of family.
Small and medium-sized businesses were the avenue by which many immigrants were able to realize their dream of achieving financial security for their families in the country and in their countries of origin, she said. All legal permanent immigrants to the United States had virtually unlimited access to the United States labour market and had the same protections as United States citizen workers. The United States also had many different forms of temporary workers, each with its own requirements and protections tailored to their unique category.
The federal Government was also doing its part to help immigrants succeed in the United States, she said. The office of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security, established in May 2003, had made tremendous progress in continuing to secure America’s promise as a nation of immigrants.
TORILL WANVIK ( Norway) recalled that the Millennium Declaration identified globalization as the central challenge of modern times, underscoring the uneven distribution of costs and benefits, risks and opportunities. Nowhere was that more true than in the labour market. Norway was in the process of developing measures to allow for a more flexible labour market to, among other things, enable migrants to work for periods in their home countries, with particular reference to migrants from post-conflict situations. The international community’s attention to migration and gender reflected the increase in the number of female migrants globally, the impact of the migration of women on home communities and the unregulated high-risk industries in which women migrants often worked. Though female migration was associated with empowerment, as women were more in control of their mobility and able to exercise rights and fulfil themselves, women were much more susceptible to falling prey to the perils of human trafficking.
Indeed, he continued, some 80 per cent of trafficked victims were estimated to be women. Prevention was the key to the anti-trafficking response, and the reduction of vulnerability to trafficking and re-trafficking was crucial. The attainment of the Millennium Development Goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment would be an important step in reducing women’s vulnerability. His Government’s plan to combat human trafficking put emphasis on prevention by: limiting recruitment and demand; intensifying efforts to detect and prosecute human traffickers; and protecting and assisting victims. Trafficking, however, could not be effectively combated without comprehensive global action. He urged Member States who had not already done so to ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
The negative impact on public health systems and availability of skilled health personnel in developing countries was a major challenge, especially for implementation of the Cairo action plan, he said. The reasons behind the health crises, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, were complex, and that grim picture was not merely explained by migration. But, migration’s impact was profound and required management. While restrictions were not a workable solution -- nor wanted, in the face of people’s right to freedom of movement in search of better livelihoods for themselves and their families -- a cross-sectoral and global harmonization of approaches was necessary. Labour market policies, education and training, fiscal “space” for employment should be addressed at all levels. There was also a need for political interventions to address the “pull” factors from the more developed countries.
AJAI MALHOTRA ( India) said migration had always been an indispensable ingredient of the human situation. While only about 35 per cent of the world’s population lived outside their country of origin, the global migration dynamic had rapidly become a highly visible feature of today’s world. India, with its long history of attracting and sending people to other lands, was a major country of origin, destination and transit. An estimated 20 million migrants, including irregular migrants, today lived in India. India’s unique civilization and rich cultural heritage had drawn sustenance from diversity, tolerance and the opportunity for coexistence and the development of multiple identities. Over the centuries, practically every community had found a place in the Indian crucible. Some had come as students in pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, others as traders or invaders, drawn by legendary wealth and spices. In the latter half of the twentieth century, Indians went as emigrant workers to the oil-rich Gulf and as professionals in the fields of medicine, engineering, finance and management, and more recently, information technology, to Western and other countries. There were presently over 20 million people of Indian origin overseas, including those with Indian nationality.
India did not restrict its nationals from migrating overseas, he said. That was a choice exercised by the individual. India favoured a regular, non-discriminatory and orderly process for permanent or shorter-term migration. Indian migrants had travelled to many distant lands in search of a livelihood, knowledge, skills and professional opportunities. Migration offered opportunities for Indian nationals and benefits to the country. “Brain drain” as a result of migration of skilled and highly trained people could be translated into overall gain. India had successfully managed to do that. While India had experienced large-scale emigration of workers in information technologies, it had been able to replace those skilled emigrants and create a thriving service export industry, largely as a result of the emphasis in India on good quality education, especially higher education, aided by opportunities they had found in the host country.
Countries of origin could benefit from the return of migrants, if they brought skills or capital that would not have been acquired at home, he said. India was one of the countries where returnees had been the main driving force for the growth of the software industry. The existence of stable institutions was a prerequisite for the engagement by those abroad in the development process of their countries of origin. Migrants could make best use of economic opportunities at home if international mobility was facilitated by both countries of origin and countries of destination. A secure legal status at destination, with work and residence permits allowing for temporary absences and the recognition of dual citizenship by the countries concerned, were some of the measures needed for circulation to take place.
There were some 5 million overseas Indian workers across the world, he said. Their hard work helped build their host countries, while remittances had contributed significantly to the economic empowerment of their families and the development of their communities in India. Recorded remittance inflows into India had increased impressively in recent years, growing from $13 billion in 2001 to $21.7 billion in 2005. That surge in remittances to India, particularly following the information technology revolution in the 1990s, had made India the highest remittance-receiving country in the world. Greater use of formal channels for remittance transfers had been aided by such factors as institution of a market-determined exchange rate, current account convertibility, and increased availability of speedier and cost-effective money transfer arrangements. India was further improving the efficiency of financial and consular services and working out an easy-to-use, affordable and efficient remittance facility.
Concluding, he noted that sending and receiving countries derived economic benefit as a result of the migration process. Migration needed to be seen from a multidimensional perspective and regarded as a “win-win” concept.
KAZIMIERZ KUBERSKI, Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Poland, said that Poland was still a country where the number of emigrants exceeded the number of immigrants, but in 2004, the highest number of immigrants since 1960 and the lowest number of emigrants since 1993 had been recorded. The fear of a mass migration from Poland and other countries of the region, along with its accompanying negative effects, expressed by the majority of the old European Union member countries, had not proven true. As the predictions from the pre-accession period showed, the increase in labour migration from the “European Union 10” to the “European Union 15” turned out to be moderate. And, opening up the labour market by Sweden, Ireland and the United Kingdom had not brought about negative social and economic effects, either. The economies of those countries had even gained substantial profits from the immigration of the new Member States. Liberalization of access to labour markets had also considerably contributed to legalization of the status of many people already present in those markets.
He said that, since the beginning of the 1990s, an increase in the number of foreigners entering Poland had been noted. After the country’s accession to the European Union, Poland became even more attractive for all forms of immigration, including for economic reasons. Since 1991, when Poland became a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees, about 30,000 persons applied for that status in Poland, and some 2,000 had been granted such protection. In preparation for Poland’s membership into the European Union, it had introduced a visa requirement for citizens of the Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine. Also, during the process of harmonization of internal law with the Union, the Polish Parliament passed a new act granting protection to foreigners on its territory. In 2005, more than 50 million foreigners visited Poland. In that same year, 25,000 persons were granted permits to reside there for a specified period, and more than 4,000 others were granted settlement permits.
Despite the growing interest in the Polish labour market, foreigners currently did not pose a problem to his country, he said. They filled the gap in the local labour markets in businesses and jobs in which there was no interest among Polish citizens. Poland was currently in the process of defining several aspects of its migration policy, in order to address the challenge of migration in a more effective way. Contemporary globalization processes influenced migration patterns worldwide, as they did in Poland. History showed that Poles had been actively taking part in those processes. The accession to the European Union had brought Poland even closer to the global “family” and most of all, to the European system of migration. Poland was not only an emigration country, but was also becoming a destination for foreign immigrants, he said.
RITA KAZLAVSKIENE ( Lithuania) noted that international migration and development were interrelated. Lithuania had experienced both sides of the migration phenomenon. Some 9 per cent of Lithuanians had migrated in the last 15 years. Migration had played a big role in lowering the country’s unemployment rate, which, over the last year, had decreased significantly. Economic development had also affected the decline in the unemployment rate. Immigration had also impacted wage increases. In 2005, average wages had increased by some 12 per cent. Companies were more frequently hiring foreign workers. Signs of return immigration were being seen in the private sector due to improved working conditions.
Stressing the need for an integrated migration approach, she said there was no miracle solution to migration issues. New opportunities opened by the globalized world would have a lasting impact on development.
MARGARITA ESCOBAR, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs for Salvadorans Living Abroad, noted that 25 per cent of its population lived abroad. To address the issue of migration, Governments and civil society must rethink the matter in terms of transnational strategies. Twenty-five per cent of a country’s population such as El Salvador’s was significant in terms of its political, economic, cultural, social, technological and human landscape. Migration must be understood not only in terms of economics, but also in personal terms. Every migrant represented an individual story and human history. People mostly discussed migration in terms of economic figures and statistics. While that aspect of migration could not be set aside, the personal component of migration was equally important. Last year, some $3 billion, or 17 per cent, of El Salvador’s gross domestic product (GDP) of $16 billion was from remittances. Remittances also represented 86 per cent of the trade deficit, 685 per cent of foreign direct investment and 1.8 per cent of total world remittances. Remittances had increased by some 11 per cent in recent years.
Salvadoran migration had various causes and origins, she said, including the desire to flee violence, seek economic opportunities, and, in the second generation of migrants, family reunification. That was why migration could not only be seen from an economic standpoint. The personal and economic motives for migration went hand in hand. Most of El Salvador’s migrants were in the United States. Canada, Australia, Sweden and Italy had also received Salvadoran immigrants. Migration had had many impacts on the population, including changing tastes and interests and interpersonal relationships. Developments in terms of telecommunications, transportation and technology were all closely linked to migration. It had also resulted in the establishment of a complex community abroad. Salvadoran families were, in many cases, transnational, with siblings and children assuming the patterns of the different countries in which they lived. If the nucleus of society was the family, migration represented a big challenge for any country that was both an origin or transit country.
Establishing Government policies that dealt with migrants around the world was difficult, she said. Remittances themselves could not replace financial mechanisms for development, education and technological growth. It could, however, be improved by creating an enabling environment conducive to development, including by giving migrants financial access to credit and inviting their involvement in national development processes. The migrant must be at the centre of Government policies. The Vice-Ministry worked to promote the interests of Salvadorans abroad. The Government had tried to integrate Salvadorans throughout the world, including by safeguarding their interests, promoting projects and strengthening their national identity. Several questions needed to be answered, including what happened to second and third generations of immigrants, whether remittances were a sustainable solution in the medium or long term and were they being used to meet basic needs.
She said her Government’s migration policy focused on seven guidelines, including: human rights assistance; orderly mechanisms to given migrants stability in a legal framework; remittances; social and humanitarian assistance; economic integration; consular networks and national identity; and linkages with communities abroad. The international embassy network was crucial for migrants. Another important phenomenon was the issue of trafficking. International organized crime required organized policies and greater understanding of the economic aspects of migration.
The Vice-Ministry, which was part of the Ministry for Foreign affairs, had the obligation of promoting the interests of migrants by coordinating the various Government bodies or entities, she said. The consular network was in constant contact with migrant communities. Networks of Salvadoran enterprises were also important. Free trade agreements must be accompanied by education, vocational training and technological cooperation. Salvadoran business networks in the United States had associated themselves with local chambers of commerce seeking to facilitate trade and investment.
The representatives of Bolivia, Switzerland, Mexico and France participated in a brief discussion following the presentation.
Delivering the second keynote address, entitled “International Migration and Economic Development: Puzzles and Policies for LDCs”, J. EDWARD TAYLOR, Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California at Davis, addressed the question of why international migration seemed to promote economic development in some cases and not in others. His presentation also explored how policies could be designed to influence migration’s impacts on migrant-sending economies. He started with the premises that international migration was neither a panacea nor a threat, that development and underdevelopment shaped migration and that migration, in turn, shaped development. Given those premises, he said the key question was how Governments could use international migration as a development tool.
Using Central America as an example -- and there were many others -- he said that the number of Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans and Nicaraguans in the United States increased twentyfold between 1970 and 2000, from 68,800 to nearly 1.5 million, and emigration rates were higher than population growth rates in those four countries. It was a mistake to try to “keep people on the farm”, however, as China had learned. It was also a myth that, as income grew, people stayed home. In fact, as incomes rose, people became more mobile, moving out of rural areas and farm jobs to cities and abroad. Another lesson was that trade integration would not necessarily reduce migration. Of utmost importance was that international migration was not the solution to poverty. The poorest of the poor usually did not migrate abroad. They had the incentives, but too many constraints, such as the cost of travel itself.
On remittances, he said that studies had found that those were often used for consumption. It was not important how remittances were used, but how they, and migration, affected spending. In terms of what that meant for policy, investment incentives should be created to alleviate constraints on migrant households. Markets should be developed to connect households, and a stable macroeconomic environment should be created, as economic and political instability shook people’s confidence and discouraged remittances. He also advocated improved access to product markets, including by, among other things, improving roads, accessing supply chains and enforcing contracts. Microcredit was critical, as huge efficiency losses were recorded when liquidity was not in the hands of those who could use it. Women were agents of migration and development. Since women comprised nearly half of all international migrants, development policy must be “gendered”. The brain drain could be a static cost of international migration. The solution was to create incentives, such as investing in schooling.
The representatives of the Gambia, Canada, Mexico, Pakistan, Ghana and Italy participated with the professor in the discussion that followed.
BRIAN GRANT ( Canada) said States needed to continue working on cultivating an environment that was respectful of human rights and conducive to sustainable human development. While Canada supported managed migration, it was necessary to ensure that remaining in one’s country was a viable option for all people. At present, the magnitude and the global reach of migration meant that migration would continue to be debated far into the future. Migration was a complex and cross-cutting issue. It was perhaps one of the most urgent outcomes of fragile and failed States, ethno-racial and religious conflicts, the deterioration of ecosystems and natural and man-made disasters. Ultimately, managing migration was an issue for Governments. Governments had the authority to make laws and to ensure the fair treatment of people and respect for their human rights.
Governments also needed to recognize the vital importance of public support for migration, he said. It was not sufficient to say that migration was a positive force in order for a country’s population to see it positively. Social policy building blocks needed to be put into place to build an environment of tolerance. Canada was well known in the world as a country of immigration. This year, Canada would receive close to 250,000 new immigrants. But, Canada was not unique. The Canadian immigration programme was the result of deliberate policy choices that was continually evolving. Less well known was the fact that Canada was also a country of emigration. Every year, thousands of Canadians left to work and live in other countries. In fact, some 2.7 million Canadians, or 9 per cent of the total population, lived abroad.
Migration was a complex phenomenon, he said. The permanent migration movement that had characterized Canada’s history was only one form of migration. The continued use of the binary terms of “sending” and “receiving” countries trapped countries in a conceptual box that impeded global progress on the issue. Characterizing migration as a matter of “us” and “them” could not begin to deal with a phenomenon of such complexity and dynamism. Canada urged all countries to use language consistent with the fact that all countries were “countries of migration” and to resist using outdated and restrictive labels of sending, receiving, origin, destination or transit.
Further dialogue among States should recognize that, in the context of international migration, Governments, as well as individual migrants, had rights and responsibilities, he said. States must be responsible for facilitating the well-being of their citizens, protecting and respecting the human rights of those on its territory and providing an enabling environment for human development in a context of social inclusion. But, migrants also had rights and responsibilities. Migrants must respect the laws, customs and societal norms of their host countries. Documented migrants, as independent agents, were better placed to assert their rights in a country of destination. It was for that reason that Canada decried irregular migration and advocated for legal, orderly migration that provided an environment conducive to respect and protection of the human rights of migrants.
He said Canada strongly supported the continued relevance of the International Conference on Population and Development as a comprehensive road map for international cooperation on international migration. In certain circumstances, migration placed strains on countries. The interaction between migration and development was very complex. The continued use of the term brain drain was simplistic, misleading and incomplete as a description. The strain that was placed on areas within labour markets was a very real concern. But, the interests of the State had to be balanced against the interests of the individual for whom the inability to migrate might represent “brain wastage”. It was also important to understand more fully why people chose to migrate. Leaving home was never an easy prospect.
Concluding, he said the High-Level Dialogue should focus on further exploring the relationship between migration and development and on how managed migration could contribute to development. In terms of follow-up, Canada would support a States-led process that took on the goal of building mutual understanding and facilitating open discussions about all aspects of international migration, including South-South flows.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said that, in past years, dire predictions regarding the future composition and sustainability of the human population had led to radical policies, which had, in turn, been responsible for such serious problems as falling birth rates and imbalances between men and women in the population. If the development of the world’s peoples was to be sustainable and sane, such flawed policies needed to be replaced by truly people-centred ones.
Today, the work of the Commission included examination of the impact of HIV, unknown 60 years ago, and migration of peoples, he continued. Efforts to shape and control migration by political and legal means had not always led to happy results. For that reason, his delegation welcomed preparation of robust information and figures, which could help Member States to judge more wisely and humanely how to address any true problems arising from migration. Migration was sometimes painted as a threat and was manipulated for short-term political gain, at the expense of the most natural rights of human beings -– the right to life, citizenship, work and development. For that reason, the upcoming High-Level Dialogue on the subject was very welcome.
For receiving countries, the net economic impact of international migration was said to be generally positive, he said. Although the presence of migrants might have a small adverse effect on the wages and employment situation, such effects were usually small at the national level. Over the medium and long term, migration could even generate employment and produce fiscal gains. Studies in rapidly ageing populations indicated that migrants could contribute substantially to relieving the fiscal burden on future generations. On the other hand, emigration of skilled personnel could be detrimental to the countries of origin, especially small developing countries. However, skilled migrants who maintained ties with their countries of origin could stimulate the transfer of technology and capital.
Due to low fertility, net migration counted for three quarters of the population growth in developed countries, he added. Therefore, it was no longer an economic question, or one to be examined just from the point of view of its consequences for sending countries. It was now necessary to better understand the social impact of migration on receiving countries, as well. A balance should be struck between the evident benefits of migration, on one hand, and the social impact of large numbers of migrants in receiving countries, especially when they were not yet integrated, on the other. There seemed to be growing awareness that immigration could not be the single solution to demographic and labour problems of receiving countries. He hoped that the resolve expressed by the world leaders at last year’s Summit to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of migrants, migrant workers and members of their families would be built upon, to the benefit of all peoples, without distinction.
TENS C. KAPOMA ( Zambia) said that the national population policy was first promulgated in 1989; however, the country’s population growth rate had remained high, at an average rate of 2.4 per cent. Population factors had continued to seriously challenge sustainable development. To address those challenges, it was necessary to revise the 1989 national population policy, for which the impetus was the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. The Zambian Government strongly supported the outcome document, or action programme. However, its implementation had been slow, owing to the fact that population issues had not been factored into previous national planning documents, such as the 2002-2004 poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP) or the 2002-2005 Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP). The successor planning documents, still under preparation, had integrated population variables into their programmes.
He said that his Government had adopted several policies to address the population challenges, such as a gender and youth policy, and a national employment and labour market policy. Zambia’s experience with international migration had been limited mainly to brain drain, with skilled workers, especially from the health sector, seeking employment elsewhere. To address that, Zambia adopted a comprehensive health strategy. Zambia had a long history of hosting large numbers of refugees, which also had an impact on the population growth rate. Those large influxes had mainly been due to independence struggles in the Southern African region in the 1960s through the early 1980s, and later, the post-independence conflicts. By 2000, large numbers of refugees had again migrated to Zambia. Some of those had been integrated into local communities, while others resided in designated sites. To address international forced migration, Zambia was involved in peace talks in the region and had embarked on a voluntary repatriation exercise to return refugees to their countries of origin. He welcomed continued international support.
CARMEN MORENO, Director, United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), said that, for the most part, women had been invisible in the treatment of migration. The issue of international migration was largely absent from many of the key women’s rights agreements, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action. Yet, women had always been present in migratory flows, traditionally as spouses, daughters and dependents of male migrants. Nowadays, however, women were increasingly migrating as the mainstreaming economic providers for their households -- meaning that they migrate autonomously as “breadwinners” -- a contribution that increased their visibility within migratory flows. In fact, women currently constituted 49.6 per cent of global migratory flows, though the proportion varied significantly by country and could be as high as 70 to 80 per cent, in some cases.
She said that the “feminization of migration” had also produced specifically female forms of migration, such as the commercialized migration of domestic workers and caregivers, the migration and trafficking of women for the sex industry, and the organized migration of women for marriage. In migrating, women were making a courageous decision to place their families’ well-being above their own happiness and their need to be with their loved ones. The global demand for migrant labour now prioritized women’s specific skills and traditional roles, such that paid domestic work was increasingly performed by women who left their own countries and communities, and often their families, of origin. Domestic service drew not only women from poor socio-economic classes, but also women of relatively high status in their own countries. The development of service-based economies in post-industrial nations also favoured the international migration of women workers. In the developed world, the combination of women’s increased participation in the labour force and the failure to develop family-friendly labour policies and child, elderly, and disabled care options had led to a strong demand for migrant women workers.
Migrant women were thus a central support system for women’s freedom in the developed world –- and they made a contribution that was under-recognized and undervalued, she said.
Gender identities were characterized by fluidity, movement and transformation, she went on. Because of transitional migration, ideas about traditional and appropriate gender roles were rapidly shifting, and newly defined masculinities and femininities were evolving as a result of migration. One of INSTRAW’s priority research areas was gender, migration and remittances, through which it aimed to highlight the increasingly influential role that women migrants played in the maintenance of their households and the development of their families and communities -- both in countries of origin and destination. The Institute promoted the inclusion of a gender perspective in research, analysis and policymaking in relation to migration and remittances. The latter had become the most important stabilizing economic force for many developing countries, and INSTRAW had initiated a series of case studies aimed at analysing the gender dimensions of the sending, use and impact of remittances.
The first such study focused specifically on female migration from the Dominican Republic to Spain, she said. It had revealed several conclusions, including that: when a Dominican woman migrated to Spain, in 90 per cent of the cases she left her household in the charge of another woman; 54 per cent of remittances received in the Dominican Republic through official channels were sent by women; remittances in the hands of women tended to be channelled towards family well-being, including basic needs, household improvements, health and education; remittances sent by women were contributing to increasing girls’ access to higher education; and 100 per cent of the migrant women who returned from Spain set up their own businesses. The Institute would be carrying out other case studies on the gender dimensions of remittances in various countries. Many questions remained unanswered, including whether women were empowered by migration, whether girls were acquiring household responsibilities before coming of age, and how families coped with the separation of their mothers.
LAURO LOPEZ SANCHEZ ACEVEDO, Undersecretary for Population, Migration and Religious Affairs of the Minister of Interior of Mexico said Mexico was a country of origin, transit and destination. Its northern border, which had the largest number of border-crossings worldwide, registered a daily average of more than 1 million territorial crossings, resulting in some 400 million territorial crossings per year. On its southern border, an average of 1.5 million crossings was registered each year. In 2005, some 1.2 million Mexicans had tried to enter the United States and another 100,000 Central Americans had traversed Mexican territory in their attempt to cross the northern border. During 2005, some 850,000 Mexicans and more than 100,000 Central Americans had been deported by United States immigration officials. In 2005, Mexico had deported almost a quarter million migrants, mainly from Central America. Thus, in 2005, some 1.2 million migrants had been repatriated from the north to the south. In the last four years, Mexico had transferred about 350,000 Mexicans per year to the United States.
The migratory phenomenon was one of global implications and should, therefore, be addressed under the principle of shared responsibility with a comprehensive, long-term approach, he said. He called on all States to develop public policies and laws that guaranteed the full respect of the human rights and dignity of migrants and their families, regardless of their migratory status. As the twenty-first century would continue to be characterized by migration, it was necessary to eliminate discriminatory policies that impeded, injured or repressed the mobility and rights of migrant workers.
Migration between Mexico and the United States had a long and historical tradition with structural roots, he added. The flow of Mexican migrants had reached unknown scales. With the most migrants in the United States, Mexico also faced the challenges of a continuous growth of transmigrants with the United States as their final destination. For that reason, Mexico promoted a regional approach to the migratory phenomenon which should consider the perspective of all relevant countries.
Mexico promoted the “regularization” of undocumented Mexicans that were already living in the United States and a comprehensive and coordinated programme for temporary workers, he said. Mexico was committed to developing better opportunities in the areas with most intense migratory activity in its territory, as well as to strengthening shared border security with the United States. It was necessary to reinforce international cooperation in a framework of co-responsibility, with a plan that allowed an orderly, secure and legal migration, as well as through mechanisms to guarantee fundament respect for migrants’ human rights.
LAMIN NYABALLY ( Gambia), on behalf of the Vice-President and Secretary of State for Women’s Affairs, Isatou Njie-Saidy, said that approximately 14 per cent of the Gambia’s total population were non-Gambians. For a country with a population of 1.4 million and a land size of only 11,000 square kilometres and an average growth rate of 4.2 per cent, the large influx of migrants was a formidable challenge in terms of the management of population resources, particularly the unskilled population. The Gambia had two broad categories of “in-migrants”: refugees and internally displaced persons; and economic migrants. Since the mid-1990s, the Gambia experienced a high influx of migrants from neighbouring countries, as a result of the conflict in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea-Bissau.
In fulfilment of its international obligation regarding the treatment of refugees, he said his Government elaborated several emergency response strategies to address the refugees’ needs. A significant number of those refugees, however, had taken advantage of their cultural homogeneity with the Gambia and had since integrated into Gambian families and communities. The Gambia adopted the Cairo Action Programme and strongly believed that universal access to reproductive health was a prerequisite to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. In that regard, migrants’ access to reproductive health services had also always been a priority. Migrants in the education sector also deserved special attention. International migration in the Gambia had its merits and demerits. A recent concern had been the increasing number of nurses leaving the Gambia for work in the West.
International migration was a complex issue and addressing it required a multifaceted approach involving the international community and sending and receiving countries, he said. A coherent migration policy could go a long way in ameliorating the problem, but given the divergent geopolitical interests, formulating such policies required enormous political will and commitment from all stakeholders. Every effort should be made to ensure not only that those policies were formulated, but that they were operationalized. The sending countries should create the necessary enabling environment so that a critical mass of trained people would be available at any time to advance the course of development.
ROMY TINCOPA ( Peru) said international migration and development was an important item on the agenda of many countries. The Cairo Programme of Action, which had included the subject of migration and development, and the Millennium Development Goals were complementary. Migration represented benefits and costs for both origin and receiving countries. It also represented opportunities and challenges to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The toughening of migration laws and social pressure against migrants in certain countries was increasingly prevalent. She appealed to all countries to reduce the high costs of the remittance transfers, as remittances contributed to the economies of the countries of origin. Given the importance of migration, Peru had had convened an international conference for developing countries with large migrant flows, to be held in May in Lima. She hoped that potential areas of cooperation could be identified between countries with migratory flows in order to create a new culture of migration.
Peru’s migratory policy included, among other things, measures for the implementation of legal policies, humanitarian assistance, improvement of consular services, support for human rights and promotion of citizenship of Peruvians abroad. Peru was also involved in the fight against human trafficking, adopting national legislation on the subject. It was a priority that the international community continue to contribute their cooperation in order to articulate action that would deal with the many dimensions of international migration, with special emphasis on respect for the contribution of migrants to society.
KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN ( Thailand) shared her country’s national experiences -– as a country of origin, transit and destination. With proper management, international migration could significantly contribute to national development. The Thai Government had taken a proactive approach to encourage the Thai workforce to find employment opportunities abroad and reap the benefits of globalization. Past records had shown that those workers were valuable agents for development, both in their homeland and host countries. Their remittances had also been an important source of development financing for rural communities back home. To assist those workers, the authorities had provided many pre-departure capacity-building programmes to enhance their competitiveness and skills in accordance with labour market demand. One-stop service centres had been established and information campaigns had been launched around the country to raise awareness of prospective migrant workers about societies in destination countries, as well as to help them stay clear of predatory criminal organizations.
She said that illegal migrants should be “brought out of the dark” and be regulated through an open and orderly regime in a way that benefited both national security and the economy, as well as the rights and security of the migrants. That was particularly so for Thailand, where there were currently 2.2 million illegal migrants in the country. Faced with that huge challenge, the authorities embarked on a regularization policy in 2004 by encouraging employers to persuade their employees, who had entered the country illegally, to come forward and register. Through that arrangement, migrants were allowed to work temporarily in Thailand, while benefiting from the rights and basic services equal to those enjoyed by their Thai counterparts. In June, the Government extended the work permit for several hundred thousand registered migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic for another year. That should eventually create a legal and regular regime for labour migration between those three countries and lessen the incentive for resorting to irregular channels.
Closer coordination and cooperation at all levels was vital to combat the threat of people smuggling and trafficking in persons, especially women and children, she said. Those serious crimes dehumanized human beings, undermined human dignity and destroyed human potential. In Thailand, a memorandum of understanding was signed by Government agencies concerned and non-governmental organizations working in the field. It constituted a reference framework for coordination and action among the various actors. Because smugglers and traffickers respected no boundaries, global cooperation was imperative to combat those criminal networks and protect the victims. Prevention of irregular migration was most effective and sustainable when it addressed root causes of the outflow, especially lack of development and economic disparities in countries of origin.
She said that the international community should strengthen their partnerships in support of development in countries of origin, and immediate priority should be given to the prevention of brain drain of health workers from developing countries. That was having a devastating impact on the overall public health system, especially on the capacity to cope with the spread of HIV/AIDS. Greater efforts should also be made to create opportunities for capacity-building of unskilled and semi-skilled workers in receiving countries. Doing so would enable them to better contribute to development of their home countries upon their return. With greater hope and opportunities at home, fewer people would be compelled to leave their countries and place their lives in the hands of smugglers and traffickers. Serious consideration should also be given to how to achieve a coherent and comprehensive global governance of international migration, and the upcoming High-Level Dialogue in September should mobilize momentum towards that goal.
LILIANA STANKOVA ( Bulgaria) said Bulgarian policy in the field of migration and development supported positive migration, which contributed to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Migration, as a positive force for development, should benefit host and home countries and migrants themselves. Bulgaria’s migration policy was an important element of its integration into the European Union, which aimed at promoting the respect for fundamental human rights, while maintaining an optimum balance between the freedom of movement of persons and prevention of illegal migration. As a transit country, the migration situation in Bulgaria had remained the same for the last few years. An interdepartmental working group on the management of migration processes had been established to, among other things, analyse legislative and administrative practices in the social and cultural integration of migrant workers and their families in Bulgaria.
She said Bulgaria was actively involved in international cooperation to improve labour migration management and had introduced international legal standards based on the positive experiences of other countries. In 2005, a Labour and Social Advisory Office had been established within the Bulgarian Embassy in Greece. That process would continue with the setting up of offices in Spain, Germany and other countries. Regarding legal instruments, Bulgaria was looking for opportunities for parallel conclusion of employment and social security arrangements. Employment agreements had been signed with countries including Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, France and Luxembourg.
To prevent cross-border illegal migration, a large campaign on the risks of illegal employment proposals had been launched with the active involvement of non-governmental organizations, employers, trade union organizations and intergovernmental organizations, she said. Bulgaria actively participated in the establishment of a multilateral framework for cross-border migration. The issue of international migration was of global importance and must be a central part of the global agenda.
YASOJA GUNASEKERA ( Sri Lanka), noting that the number of migrants had more than doubled since 1980, said the pattern of international migration was clearly linked to globalization. With the advent of new technologies and the expansion of the global economy, new opportunities were being created all the time. The impact of globalization, however, had been uneven and disparities in living conditions were becoming apparent, contributing to the scale of international migration. International cooperation on migration issues must be enhanced to ensure that the movement of people across borders was managed in an effective and humane manner.
The economic benefits of migration for both sending and receiving countries were increasingly becoming apparent, she said. Migrant workers were actively contributing to the growth and economic prosperity in receiving countries. In addition, sustained levels of migration had been recorded as offsetting natural reduction of the working age population in many receiving countries. Remittances were a significant source of foreign exchange for many developing countries, even surpassing official development assistance (ODA) and revenue from traditional exports and off-setting the impact of the trade deficit. Remittances had a direct impact on the receiving communities. In that context, the migration of Sri Lankans for overseas employment had contributed significantly to reducing unemployment and poverty, especially in rural parts of the country. Migrants could both contribute to the development of receiving countries and transfer and infuse knowledge, skills and technology into countries of origin.
A significant amount of worker remittances were still coming into the country through informal channels, with implications for misuse of those funds by terrorists and other criminal channels, she added. To counter that trend, Sri Lanka’s State banks were expanding their network of branches throughout the country. The Government had attempted to encourage investment and long-term financial planning among returnee migrant workers by offering an array of credit schemes. The welfare of migrants was of paramount importance to Sri Lanka. In a world that was interdependent, it was essential that the international community ensure that all migrants were treated as human beings with equal rights. It was also important to manage migration as a “win-win” situation for countries of both the North and South.
AMINAH ABDUL RAHMAN ( Malaysia) said that the scale, complexity and breadth of the issue of international migration demanded that the international community come together to deliberate and formulate appropriate responses. Many recent events had highlighted the acute problems attributable to irregular migration. The international community, working within a multilateral framework, should tackle those problems, including by addressing the root causes of the phenomenon when necessary. They included poverty, lack of market access, war, armed conflict, and gross and systematic human rights violations. The forthcoming High-Level Dialogue could be used to promote the positive elements of migration, as well as address the whole spectrum of challenges related to it, including irregular migration.
She said that her Government acknowledged the positive elements of international migration on economic development, but there were also risks to both sending and receiving countries from the negative social, economic and political impacts. One key solution in ensuring that the benefits were maximized and the negative impacts minimized was the establishment of appropriate national mechanisms to manage and regulate migration flows. The establishment of those crucial mechanisms called for constructive dialogue and closer bilateral cooperation between receiving and sending countries. Malaysia was a receiving country for largely low-skilled foreign labour. The number of foreign workers with work permits amounted to 15 per cent of the labour force. Malaysia’s intake of foreign workers would continue to be guided by a policy to move to technology intensive and higher value-added economic activities.
Malaysia, therefore, would gradually reduce the employment of low-skilled foreign labour, while continuing to employ highly skilled foreign labour or expatriates, particularly in occupations where it faced shortages and lack of expertise, she said. Employment of foreign labour should be governed by the supply and demand of each country in terms of local market requirements, recognition of qualifications in relation to job descriptions, as well as the local immigration laws and relevant Government policies. By helping to meet labour needs in certain economic sectors, international migration had contributed to Malaysia’s economic development. At the same time, the presence of foreign workers in large numbers, particularly undocumented workers, had been problematic, not only for Malaysia, but for the irregular migrants themselves, who were vulnerable to abuse. To resolve the issue, the Government had taken steps in 2004 to “regularize” the presence of undocumented workers. It had also amended the immigration act to allow for stiffer penalties for undocumented migrant workers.
EASTON WILLIAMS ( Jamaica) noted that, in the nineteenth century, Jamaicans had migrated to Central America and other Caribbean territories in search of employment opportunities. Many Jamaicans had died while building the Panama Canal. Today, many Central American communities retained Jamaican language, culture and genealogical features. Migrants from Jamaica were mainly persons in their prime reproductive and productive years and were predominantly female. Recent studies indicated that Jamaica and other countries in the English-speaking Caribbean had the highest loss of tertiary graduates in the world. Some 70 per cent of tertiary-level graduates emigrated annually from Jamaica to North America and the United Kingdom. Studies concluded that brain drain from Jamaica to North America was quite substantial.
Given its long history of emigration, Jamaica had established large communities in many major cities in North America and the United Kingdom, he said. They had also established numerous informal and formal associations and networks in those cities. In the 1990s, the Government had established a special department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to create formal links with migrant communities in the diaspora and to facilitate their return and reintegration. In recent years, the Government had implemented a number of innovative measures for the mobilization of the diaspora for national development. The Jamaican diaspora had created niche markets in all its major destination countries that had great potential for expansion.
The volume of remittances channelled through official money transfer networks had been increasing since the 1990s and was currently estimated at some $1.5 billion, or 10 per cent of GDP. Remittance was currently the largest source of foreign exchange available to the Government. The reduction of absolute poverty from an estimated 35 per cent in the early 1990s to the current estimate of below 15 per cent was also linked to the increase in the flow in remittances.
DJIHED EDDINE BELKAS ( Algeria) said that the brain drain was real for countries like Algeria, owing to a variety of reasons, including armed conflict and underdevelopment. Since Algeria was a sending, receiving and transit country, it had felt the full brunt of that situation. National development schemes, however, had created hundreds of thousands of jobs as part of a growth consolidation programme for 2005 to 2009. In addition, the State had mobilized other financial means for an incentive programme for unemployed youth. That and other programmes had stemmed the outflow of youth and had had a positive impact on development. Algeria had a national community living abroad, which enjoyed protection under a full series of statutes and regulations. They recognized the Algerians’ role in the political, economic and social architecture of the country. The Algerian migrant had a right to participate in politics and all electoral questions of national interest, regardless of his or her domicile.
In addition, he said, that “fringe” of Algerian society participated in the national economy by taking advantage of all financial and tax incentives offered by the State to stimulate the national economy. Algeria had always been a welcoming land, and it remained so. That aspect of its Statehood had grown in recent years, owing to the expansion of the economy and the right to import labour. The foreign worker in Algeria had a right to residence and labour permits under national law. Irregular migrant workers were at the mercy of individuals and organizations that preyed upon them. Mindful of the gravity of that situation, the Government was doing its utmost to protect them, including by opening up bilateral channels with countries with whom it shared contiguous borders. It also fully supported a recent decision to engage in a frank, comprehensive and inclusive political dialogue with the European Union to examine the migration phenomenon. Solving the related problems lay in achieving development, through real and effective partnership with developed countries and through training that was non-discriminatory in nature.
INIGO DE PALACIO ESPANA ( Spain) said Spain had become a net receiving immigration country. The significant number of migrants in Spain had clearly improved the country’s socio-economic situation. With more than 4 million documented and undocumented foreigners, Spain had the greatest proportion of migrants living in its territory in Europe. That situation had brought with it both challenges and opportunities. In response to the increasing number of unregulated migrant workers in Spain, the Government had, in 2005, adopted exceptional measures, including the implementation of a process aimed at the normalization of already existing labour relations. The results had been satisfactory, as some 600,000 immigrant workers had been regularized.
Spain’s plan for integration of its immigrants was based on the principle of equality and non-discrimination, he said. The plan was structured in 12 areas, including education, housing, health and social services. For its implementation, a fund had been created to develop the integration of immigrants in regional and local areas. Cooperation with social agents and the community was key for designing, managing and evaluating policies on the integration of immigrants. The effective management of migratory flows was not possible without close cooperation between sending, receiving and transit States. Spain had also signed various bilateral labour agreements.
Spanish cooperation was focused on, among other things, strengthening of public institutions in countries of origin, vocational training, and encouraging co-development efforts to strengthen the role by immigrant associations in economic development. Some 3.18 per cent of total global remittances were from Spain, which ranked eighth in countries sending remittances. In light of its experience, Spain was ready to identify measures to help increase the impact of remittances as a tool for development. It had identified a series of measures to increase competition in the financial market for remittances, including lower transfer costs. As a complex phenomenon, migration presented both challenges and opportunities for development and required a multidimensional response.
HOPE P. WHITE-DAVIS, President, the World Association of Former United Nations Interns and Fellows addressed her remarks to the report of the Secretary-General on world population monitoring, focusing on international migration and development (document E/CN.9/2006/3). Among her observations, she said it was valuable to capture the reality of the dynamics of international migration and its relationship to the development process. However, the attempt to frame the discussion under the North-South dimension limited understanding of other important dimensions. New studies should be undertaken to address the impact of migration flows of both skilled and non-skilled migrants in the development process among the countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Those countries hosted the greatest number of international migrants with tertiary education. Both North America and the European Union were presently competing for the best and the brightest trained by the South, as a way to ensure their competitive edge in a globalized economy.
She said that the developmental impact of that key component of international migration –- skilled migration in both developed and developing countries -– continued to raise methodological and policy challenges both to Governments and to the United Nations. As such, the negative effects of the reverse transfer of technology was an area where the United Nations could do more in terms of adjudicating more resources to tackle the long-term effects of that phenomenon.
The fact that remittances now surpassed the level of ODA clearly showed that the international commitments made at Monterrey or contained in the Millennium Development Goals would not be reached, she said. Remittances “euphoria” was not justified, and, as such, recent studies showed that unattractive investment environments and restrictive immigration policies that interrupted circular migration patterns prevented the high development potential of migration from being fully realized. Although specific policies could enhance that potential by facilitating remittance transfers and investments, the key lay in encouraging “circular migration”. Her comments were intended as modest input to the discussion on the reciprocal relationship between migration and development, as it affected both the North and the South, she said.
MARY KRITZ, of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, said her organization was the only international professional association of population specialists. Since the early 1970s, the Union had worked to improve the quality of data on international migration and to study the consequences of international migration for sending and receiving countries. In 2005, the Union had organized 12 sessions on international migration and development issues at its International Population Conference in July in France. Each of the sessions on international migration focused on specific topics and compared patterns for different countries. The effects of labour migration on both receiving and sending countries were considered, as were gender issues, forced migration and return migrations.
While most international migrants were unskilled workers, many were highly skilled workers sought by receiving countries for their managerial, professional and technical skills, she said. To attract highly skilled workers, countries had introduced special visa-entry programmes and regularly sponsored trade fairs at which businesses recruited highly skilled workers. Growing numbers of countries in Europe and North America wished to attract foreign skilled workers, actively recruit foreign students and encourage them to stay after they completed their studies.
Introduction of Report
Following the conclusion this afternoon of the general debate, the Commission began its consideration of the agenda item entitled “Programme implementation and future programme of work of the Secretariat in the field of population”, for which it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Population Division in 2005 (document E/CN.9/2006/6). ARMINDO MIRANDA, Senior Population Affairs Officer, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the report.
Speakers on agenda item 5
PETER WAY ( United States) said that the Population Division continued to play an essential role as a source of policy-neutral population expertise -- producing analytical reports, compendia of data and policies, and other informational products. Those were widely used by policymakers, programme planners, technical experts in Government and academia, and the general public. No other single agency or organization could fill that role. The products of the Population Division represented the definitive international references on a wide range of population-related topics, including, among other things, population estimates and projections for all countries of the world. The global understanding of population concepts, demographic trends, emerging demographic issues, and programmatic achievements had been much enhanced by the work of the Division in recent years.
He said that a key role of the Division was that of support to the Commission. In that context, the work of the Division on international migration was essential to the deliberations at the current session. Among the other outputs, he highlighted the important global resources in the form of topical databases and websites that continued to be developed and released by the Division. Those represented important global and regional resources for information on population. He commended the increased distribution of databases and other information via CD-ROM. Those databases and websites provided a global resource for national population programmes, non-governmental organizations, and international agencies in their efforts to assess progress, make regional comparisons, and allocate scarce resources to programmes within national boundaries and around the world.
Mr. HAUG ( Switzerland) also congratulated the Population Division for its professional work. The scientific background it produced was unique on the global level. The data available on migration, particularly that relating to migration and development, were insufficient to face the challenges before the international community. Statistics on return migration, irregular migrants and temporary migration flows was lacking. He welcomed the further strengthening of the Divisions’ work regarding the enlargement of databases on the relationship between migration and development.
Mr. BRUNBURG ( Norway) joined previous speakers in commending the Population Division for its excellent work and the background documents it had provided. The compendium was very useful and would serve as an important reference source in the future. He also highlighted the importance of the other work done by the Division, including the world mortality report.
Mr. BUTOR ( France) also praised the quality work done by the Division. The production of demographic information must meet quality criteria, including statistical accuracy, the number of updates and adaptation to users’ needs. On all those levels, the Division was making constant progress and had achieved a remarkable level of quality. He welcomed the Division’s efforts to make available a considerable quantity of data and analysis on its website. The branch was playing its role and he hoped the international community would be able to continue to benefit from it.
KEIKO OSAKI, Chief, Population and Social Integration Section of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said that body placed great emphasis on the ICPD, the Millennium Development Goals and other global mandates. The ESCAP strove to accomplish its goals throughout the region primary by building capacity at the national level, conducting training courses, providing technical assistance and disseminating information. During the 2004-2007 project cycle, ESCAP was implementing a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-funded project entitled, “Population, Development and Poverty: Emerging Challenges”. The overall goal was to contribute to more effective national and sectoral development plans that incorporated emerging population issues in ways that reduced poverty, improved reproductive health and empowered women in accordance with the Cairo Programme of Action.
Outlining other activities, she said ESCAP was gratified by the number of requests for technical assistance that it received from Governments. In that regard, ESCAP provided technical assistance in population policy formulation and strategy development. It also disseminated population information throughout the Asia-Pacific region through both printed public publication and electronic means. She welcomed suggestions by Governments on ways that ESCAP could be of even greater assistance.
* *** *