|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
19th Meeting (AM)
Migration Could Greatly Benefit Both Origin, Destination Countries,
Agency’s Permanent Observer Tells Second Committee
Speakers Underscore Importance of Upholding Migrant Workers’ Human Rights
If managed effectively, migration could be greatly beneficial to countries of both origin and destination, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) heard today as it began its consideration of international migration and development.
The Permanent Observer of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that was the central message of the 2009 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the IOM’s 2008 World Migration Report, which advocated for improving protection of migrants’ rights and lowering the barriers to human mobility so as to advance human development. Migration, when humanely managed, positively supported the right to development and pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals.
Migration was neither an obstacle to development nor a “magic wand” for its achievement, she cautioned. Given that most strategic development frameworks still did not integrate migration concerns, despite growing awareness of the connection between migration and development, she called on States to make those issues a more regular component of their development policies and planning.
Calling for a comprehensive approach to migration and development, she said it must be based on respect for human rights, both nationally and internationally, stressing that all forms of discrimination, intolerance and racism must be firmly rejected. There had been significant progress in recent years on migration-related inter-State dialogue, she noted. That dialogue had evolved from focusing exclusively on economic aspects, particularly remittances, to include social aspects such as health, gender, children, family relations and migrants’ rights, she added.
An official of the International Labour Organization (ILO) emphasized that modern migration was about labour, pointing out that an estimated 105 million of the total 214 million persons living outside their countries of origin in 2010 were economically active and engaged in the world of work. The global financial crisis had had an enormous impact on labour mobility and migration, leaving migrants disproportionately affected and suffering from reduced access to social protection, as well as scapegoating and xenophobic violence.
Efforts toreduce exploitation and ensure equality in developed and developing countries were crucial in building prosperity, social cohesion and democratic governance, she said. In that context, the “ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration: non-binding principles and guidelines for a rights-based approach to labour migration” called for expanded public support for employment-intensive recovery measures in both origin and destination countries.
Serbia’s delegate noted that high unemployment rates had driven many of its citizens to migrate, particularly the young and highly educated. The representative of South Africa added that the emigration of highly-skilled workers, particularly in the medical field, was a serious concern in many developing countries. In that regard, he expressed support for the World Health Assembly’s adoption of the Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, which required States not to recruit from developingcountries facing critical health-care shortages.
The representative of the Philippines said that increasing remittances from Filipinos abroad in the last two years had kept his country from falling into recession during the economic downturn, adding that migration could also make significant contributions to the economies of host countries. Also citing the 2009 Human Development Report, he said immigrants increased employment, with no evidence of crowding out locals, and helped produce gains in such areas as social diversity and capacity for innovation.
He added that the Philippines had been recognized as having one of the most developed programmes for addressing the welfare and protection of its own migrants. “Our policy is not to send away our people abroad; our policy is to accord the fullest protection to our nationals wherever they may be and regardless of their immigration status,” he said, urging more countries to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
Hania Zlotnik, Director of the Population Division in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, presented the Secretary-General’s report on international migration and development.
Earlier, the Committee concluded its consideration of information and communications technology for development.
Also speaking on international migration and development were the representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Mauritania (on behalf of the Arab Group), Switzerland, Peru, Sudan, Greece, Republic of Moldova, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Algeria and Mexico.
Speaking as the Committee concluded its consideration of information and communications technology for development were representatives of Lithuania, Russian Federation and the United Kingdom.
Officials of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also spoke.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, 28 October, to take up agriculture development and food security.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to conclude its consideration of information and communications technology for development and take up international migration and development.
Before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report on international migration and development (document A/65/203), which reviews trends, discusses the consequences of the economic crisis for migrants in destination countries and focuses on actions within the United Nations system to ensure respect for migrants’ human rights and promote a rights-based approach to the management of international migration. The Secretary-General recommends reinforcing activities and maintaining efforts to safeguard the rights of all immigrants and to protect those in vulnerable situations.
According to the report, the Secretary-General concludes that the effectiveness of the Global Forum on Migration and Development depends on the willingness of Governments to cooperate and communicate openly in devising common solutions to shared problems. Maintaining such a spirit of cooperation is essential to ensuring success ahead of the General Assembly’s High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in 2013, he says, urging the authorities in countries affected by the financial and economic crisis to take a long-term view in managing international migration, particularly if it is to be maintained as an option in addressing specific population and development issues.
The Committee opened the meeting by concluding its consideration of information and communications technology for development.
DALIUS ČEKUOLIS (Lithuania), associating with the European Union, said his country had been honoured to host the fifth meeting of the Internet Governance Forum in Vilnius earlier this year. The Forum had taken up several suggested improvements made during a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in 2009, and had increased remote participation. The introduction of a new format that placed high priority on development had shown that the Forum’s strength lay in cooperation among multi-stakeholder groups, based on the exchange of information, he said.
In that regard, the Forum provided an excellent framework for an ever-evolving, self-improving and non-binding multi-stakeholder approach, he said, adding that his country staunchly supported the extension of its mandate for a further five years. Quoting paragraph 77 of the Tunis Agenda, he stressed that continuing the Forum would help to further expand its potential as a “unique, neutral, non-duplicative and non-binding process with no involvement in day-to-day or technical operations of the Internet”. Lithuania encouraged the General Assembly to focus its discussions on the matter.
IVAN IZOTOV ( Russian Federation) applauded the global trend to develop information and communications technology, which had been fuelled particularly by the growth in mobile telephone use. Increasing access to technology was one of the most positive changes in the world over the last 10 years, he said, noting that more and more people in developing countries had access to the Internet. However, there was still a large digital divide, and people lacked access to broadband services and quality technology, particularly in developing countries, due to complex problems concerning national portals and content.
Expressing support for the annual “flagship” United Nations surveyed of e-governance practices, and for the further strengthening of the role of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development, he pointed out that the Internet had become a global public good, and its use internationally must be multilateral, transparent and democratic. The Russian Federation’s national policy was to ensure equal participation of all States in Internet management, he said, recalling that in the past, the activities of the Internet Governance Forum had not been effective. Despite significant resources spent on the Forum over the last five years it had not achieved the desired results. Its work should continue under the guidance of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in order to raise the level of the business sector’s participation in it, he said.
AARON HOLTZ (United Kingdom), associating with the European Union, said the sustained high level of involvement in the Forum provided clear evidence that the non-decision making, bottom-up, multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance had proven its worth as a platform for sharing ideas and promoting innovation. The Internet continued to evolve rapidly and could be very different in five years time, he said, noting “happily” that the Forum had discussed at its main session the impact of spreading multilingualism on the Internet and the increasing opportunities for developing countries in the global information economy.
The scale and range of interaction amongst stakeholders at the Forum would not work as effectively if it sought to take decisions or make recommendations, he continued, pointing out that the absence of pressures during negotiations would therefore serve to enhance its role as a unique, flexible and adaptive global platform for sharing expertise, innovation and solutions from around the world. In that context, the United Kingdom supported the Forum’s continuation, as well as the establishment of a working group. The latter should work in an open and fully inclusive way in taking stock of self-improvements made to date, as well as those that could be made in future.
QAZI SHAUKAT FAREED, Special Adviser to the Director-General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said the agency was fully committed to harnessing information and communications technology for development and embracing international efforts to bridge the digital divide. Well-prepared use of information and communications technology could increase the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries. However, major access to barriers prevented most of the developing world from reaping the benefits of digital technology, he said, adding that UNIDO encouraged global business players to form effective linkages to turn the digital divide into an opportunity for all. The agency had successfully established business-partnership programmes with leading information and communications technology firms, including Microsoft and HP, he added.
GARY FOWLIE, Head, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Liaison Office to the United Nations, said the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a joint initiative of the ITU and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), had presented its report, titled “A 2010 Leadership Imperative: The Future Built on Broadband”, to the Secretary-General on 19 September. The report, which included a high-level declaration calling for “broadband inclusion for all”, comprised a detailed framework for broadband deployment and 10 action points aimed at mobilizing all stakeholders to prioritize the roll-out of broadband networks to all.
Broadband was the next truly transformational technology, he said, adding that it could generate jobs, drive growth and productivity and underpin long-term economic competitiveness. It had extraordinary potential for human progress, in delivering health care and education services, in managing climate change and in giving people greater access to credit and control over their personal economy. However, better use must be made of broadband, he said, stressing that Governments must put it at the top of the development agenda and expedite its roll out. It must also become more affordable.
He noted that in developed countries, broadband subscriptions cost up to 3 per cent of average monthly income, while in least developed countries they consumed more than the average person’s entire monthly income. There must be a way around that because research showed that broadband services could quickly pay for themselves. Investing in information and communications technology, particularly higher-end technology like broadband, directly fuelled growth in gross domestic product (GDP), he said. The content generated by that expansion could help strengthen social cohesion, promote linguistic and cultural diversity and ensure that local culture was represented worldwide. The information society must go beyond connectivity and embrace information literacy and multilingualism, he emphasized.
EVGENY STANISLAVOV, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said the agency was thankful for all statements supporting information societies globally and nationally. “C4D” was a cross-cutting function used by UNICEF to apply specific principles and methodologies across all sectors, in the context of development and disaster preparedness and response. The Fund fully supported inter-agency efforts and was pleased to host the Twelfth United Nations Round Table on Communications for Development in India, in November 2011. It also looked forward to a year of discussion and planning with agencies, partners and interested Member States.
The Committee then took up international migration and development.
HANIA ZLOTNIK, Director, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on international migration and development, noting that there were today 214 million international migrants worldwide. Of that number, 182 million lived in developed countries, with 28 per cent of them originating from the developing world. Migration growth had been slow in developed countries, passing from a gain of 13 million migrants between 2000 and 2005, to 11 million from 2005 to 2010. Despite the global financial and economic crisis, the number of international migrants worldwide continued to grow, she said, noting that increases in return flows were rare.
However, the crisis had resulted in a reduction of remittances to low- and middle-income countries from $336 billion in 2008 to an estimated $316 billion in 2009. Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Latin America and the Caribbean region were the most affected by falling remittances. Rising unemployment in the countries most affected by the crisis had disproportionately impacted international migrants, she said, adding that in response, Governments had tried to adjust the inflow of migrants by reducing quotas, adopting more stringent labour-market tests and facilitating return migration.
Highlighting actions taken by various stakeholders, she said a growing number of States were developing innovative ways to engage their expatriate communities, including the issuance of “diaspora bonds” to raise capital. International financial institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) had focused their multilateral initiatives on reducing remittance-transfer costs. Multilateral assistance to projects on international migration and development had reached about $250 million, she said, listing major donors such as the European Commission, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Global Forum on Migration and Development, in its three meetings since 2007, had seen strong participation, with representation from about 160 States.
CHRISTOPHE DE BASSOMPIERRE ( Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said migration and mobility, if managed well, could benefit countries of origin and destination as well as migrants. It could help reduce poverty in developing countries and contribute indirectly and directly to realization of the Millennium Development Goals. Within the framework of its Global Approach to Migration, the European Union sought to reinforce dialogue on migration and development issues, and to integrate migration concerns and challenges into development cooperation and initiatives with partner countries. It sought to capitalize on migration’s positive aspects for the benefit of European Union and partners countries, he added.
In the context of the current global economic and financial turmoil, he continued, the European Union sought to maintain its long-standing commitment to an open Union, responding to the needs of its economic system and demographic trends, including through its migration and development policies. The regional bloc supported the work of the Global Forum on Migration and Development as appropriate and useful for addressing migration and development, he said.
The Global Forum had successfully enabled States to identify common ground on a broad range of migration and development issues, he said. They included policy coherence, cooperation between countries of origin and destination, increasing the development impact of remittances, enhancing diaspora groups as agents for development, preventing brain drain, facilitating circular and temporary migration, and protecting migrants’ rights. The Global Forum process must remain State-led, informal, non-binding and voluntary, he emphasized, describing the Forum as an excellent platform for States to discuss migration and development questions at a multilateral level, without the sensitivities sometimes observed in other forums.
SIDATI OULD CHEIKH (Mauritania), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, affirmed that Arab and Gulf countries ensured human rights for all legal immigrants. The Secretary-General’s report recognized that legal immigration had considerable potential to improve development and that the flow of migrant remittances was a source of external financing for developing countries. A widening economic and social gap between developing and developed States, due to the uneven impact of globalization and deregulation, as well as the absence of peace and security, had contributed to the influx of large numbers of migrants between countries, he noted.
In that light, the Gulf States and other Arab countries had accommodated large numbers of migrant workers and other immigrants for decades, he pointed out. In current times, immigration had, become a complex phenomenon and a key issue of international concern. As evidence of the Arab Group’s commitment to follow up on the outcome of September’s Third International Conference on Migration and Development, Arab countries had adopted the Doha Declaration in an effort to review achievements and challenges. Finally, he stressed that the international community needed a global approach that would necessitate coherent and comprehensive international policies for the effective management of migration, he said.
FABIO MOREIRA FARIAS ( Brazil) said that since the beginning of the global economic downturn, his country had been a steadfast advocate, at the United Nations and in the Group of 20 (G-20), of implementing plans and policies to promote an employment-centred economic recovery. Brazil encouraged all States to adopt the International Labour Organization (ILO) Global Jobs Pact, which should be mainstreamed throughout the United Nations development system, he said, emphasizing that, while the worst phase of the financial crisis was over, the global jobs crisis remained a threat to most national economies.
The number of workers living in extreme poverty had increased by more than one third in 2009, he pointed out, emphasizing that the crisis had exacerbated the vulnerability of migrant workers and their families. The Secretary-General’s report indicated that apart from being the first to lose their jobs, they were often blamed for some of the worst aspects of economic downturns, such as unemployment, further exposing them to discrimination, xenophobia and racism. Discriminatory practices were not only a human rights concern, but an obstacle to the inclusion, acceptance and integration of migrants into destination countries.
Human rights-based regulations and policies promoting decent work, health care, education and adequate housing were important in protecting migrants and fostering their social inclusion and integration, he continued. Developing countries needed support in implementing development policies and creating new opportunities for income- and job-creation in their own economies, he stressed. “We need to make development cooperation more effective, not through the imposition of pre-conceived frameworks and conditionalities, but through the fostering of national capacities in accordance with developing countries’ plans and priorities,” he said. Brazil called for more untied resources, unconditional official development assistance (ODA), productive investment and an end to protectionism.
NADIA ISLER (Switzerland) said the Secretary-General’s report showed that migrants had suffered disproportionately amid the hardships of economic downturns, a pattern repeated throughout history and deserving particular attention from national policymakers. The report also demonstrated the success of the first United Nations High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in facilitating initiatives and activities at all levels.
Nationally, a growing number of Governments acknowledged the importance of mainstreaming migration issues into their development strategies and poverty-reduction plans, she said, noting that they had begun to see migrants as important agents of development. Bilaterally, origin and destination countries increasingly formed substantial partnerships for migration and development. Regionally, Governments were engaged in a growing number of forums dedicated to the challenges and opportunities of regional migration and development. Internationally, the Global Forum on Migration and Development had become a true process for informal, action-oriented dialogue, to which Switzerland was strongly committed.
All those activities showed the undeniable impact of the United Nations on the objectives and priorities of Member States in terms of international migration and development, she said. The Organization ought to be both a catalyst and focal point for dialogue on the subject at all levels. However, despite progress in recent years, migration was still widely seen as a problem while its opportunities were all too often ignored. It was a global challenge to engage the public in a thorough, objective discussion on migrants’ contributions to society. Only by changing that distorted perception would migrants be able to unfold their potential fully in favour of sustainable development, she said, stressing that the United Nations must play a key role in engaging Member States in a constructive dialogue towards that end.
GONZALO GUTIÉRREZ ( Peru) said the issue of international migration required a positive approach. The principle of shared responsibility was essential given the need for comprehensive dialogue between origin and host countries effectively to link migration to promoting development. He underscored the need to enhance political coordination and to boost international cooperation so as to ensure safe and orderly migration. There were nearly 3 million Peruvian migrants, he noted, adding that the Government of Peru, aware of the multifarious implications of the issue, had adopted various measures to improve its services to them.
Remittances from Peruvians abroad were an important resource representing 2.2 per cent of GDP, he said. That amount indicated that migration had increasingly been considered a key element of the national economy since the 1980s. In that light, States must meet their commitments to reduce the cost of remittances and increase transparency. While it was impossible to advocate for the movement of capital, services, products and persons between countries, Peru strongly condemned repressive laws against migrants and any other “xenophobic and discriminatory” actions by Governments. It was a State’s moral and legal duty to ensure the human rights and dignity of international migrants, he stressed.
DOCTOR MASHABANE ( South Africa) cited statistics showing that the number of international migrants had increased and was expected to reach 214 million in 2010. Since almost half of then were women, international migration policies and programmes must be gender-sensitive and protect women migrants in particular from all forms of violence, discrimination, trafficking, exploitation and abuse, he said. Activities relating to migration and development by the United Nations and other international organizations had multiplied, he noted, applauding projects to support developing countries in building capacity and using international migration to spur development, as well as efforts to protect migrants in vulnerable situations through a rights-based approach.
Despite advances so far, the United Nations system must be reinforced, he said, recalling that the African Union had adopted the Migration Policy Framework for Africa in 2006. The emigration of highly-skilled workers, particularly in the medical field, was a serious concern in many developing countries. He expressed support for the World Health Assembly’s adoption of the Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, which required States to refrain from recruiting from developing countries facing critical health-care shortages. That would undoubtedly address the “brain drain” of health personnel, especially in Africa, he noted. He also emphasized that the cost of transferring remittances was too high, and called for the promotion of cheaper, faster and safer transfers, bearing in mind that remittances were not a substitute for foreign direct investment (FDI), ODA, debt relief or other public sources of financing for development. Efforts by developing countries to address migration concerns within their respective development strategies, particularly those aimed at reducing extreme poverty and hunger, deserved support, he stressed.
AMAR A. I. DAOUD (Sudan), associating with last week’s statement on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and today’s statement on behalf of the Arab Group, said migration served to strengthen ties among peoples. In that light, there was a need to deal with its shortcomings and to consolidate a level of tolerance on the global level. The international community must make migration an element of development and strive to create a healthy migration process. Origin and host countries must work together to ensure that the process was a positive one for all, he said.
Sudan was highly concerned about violence against migrants and their declining ability to exercise their religious freedoms, he said. Social integration had become more difficult for migrants in some countries, and there was a need to counteract that trend through comprehensive dialogue involving all affected parties in order to generate a spirit of tolerance and respect for migrants’ fundamental human rights. Over the last 25 years, migrants had helped in Sudan’s reconstruction efforts, and successive Governments had developed mechanisms seeking to bring them closer to their families and countries of origins, he said, adding that his country was working to rebuild, achieve peace and integrate migrants.
IOANNIS PAPAMELETIOU ( Greece) said his country had traditionally been a country of emigration, but over the last 20 years, it had become a destination for immigrants, who formed 9 per cent of its present population. Greece was also a transit country and on the European frontlines for undocumented migrants. In November 2009, Greece had hosted the Third Global Forum on Migration and Development, the main objective of which had been to highlight the links between migration and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, strengthening the human development aspects of migration and policy discourses, presenting concrete and workable policy recommendations, and consolidating the Global Forum process.
He said the meeting had explored ways to better mainstream migration into development planning and foster engagement by diaspora communities and migrants into development policies. It had also examined the root causes of migration in light of the ongoing crises. Furthermore, the meeting had addressed issues of immigrant empowerment and integration, as well as the reintegration of returning emigrants, he said, adding that it had also pursued the debate on policy and institutional coherence initiated in the previous Brussels and Manila meetings.
Gender had been addressed as a horizontal issue throughout the meeting, which had highlighted the need to better streamline a gender perspective into the migration and development nexus, he continued. Overall, it had provided a valuable contribution to the international community’s efforts to promote a balanced, coherent and comprehensive approach, while confirming the role of the Global Forum in contributing to the development of a holistic approach to migration and development, he said.
CAROLINA POPOVICI (Republic of Moldova), associating with the European Union, said migration was an essential element of her country’s national development policies since it was one of the most affected by migration in the region. While the circular mobility of people contributed to reducing poverty and raising living standards, massive migration flows created significant distortions on the labour market as the economically active segment of the population had decreased by 20 per cent. At the same time, the population exodus had roused an acute demographic crisis at the national level, which, combined with a low birth rate and a high mortality rate, had contributed to a drastic ageing of the population and an overall decrease in the population as a whole.
In that regard, the Government had prioritized the efficient monitoring and management of migration flows, she said, highlighting several of her country’s efforts to that end. The role of international organizations and development partners remained crucial for monitoring legal and illegal migration and for implementing legal frameworks for its regulation. The human rights dimension in addressing migration challenges was a prerogative for both destination and origin countries, she stressed, adding that legislative constraints only served to intensify illegal immigration, trafficking in persons and criminality. The best way to solve that problem was to create opportunities for legal and balanced mobility, and to develop an open and constructive dialogue with all stakeholders.
MOHAMMED ABDUL HANNAN ( Bangladesh) said it was in the world’s collective interest to develop approaches that would facilitate migration and strengthen its links to development. Globalization had dismantled trade barriers, but while foreign capital received preferential treatment, foreign labour often faced discrimination and intolerance, he pointed out. That should not be the case, he emphasized, urging the international community to take quick steps to liberalize markets for the movement of service providers under Mode 4 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
Enhanced labour mobility could contribute to orderly,safe migration and prevent the smuggling and trafficking of persons, he continued. Efforts were needed to end the exploitation of – and discrimination against – migrant workers through protection, fair treatment, decent work, equal pay for equal work and legal recognition of migrants’ status. The process for integrating migrants must also be simplified, he said.
Noting also that facilitating remittance flows had a potentially high pay-off, he said Governments could work with the private sector to achieve that goal. Host countries must ensure the unhindered transfer of funds to countries of origin with minimal transaction costs. Sending countries should also help migrants use remittances properly and invest in productive sectors. He said remittances from the more than 6 million Bangladeshis living abroad now exceeded 15 per cent of GDP. That amount was five times larger than total ODA and 10 times larger than the FDI that Bangladesh had received in 2009. However, the financial crisis posed a big challenge to millions of migrants worldwide, and policy reforms in many host countries were putting them at a disadvantage. Since economic recovery would not come from fiscal stimulus, but from employment creation, there were many economies for which migrant workers could be part of the solution, he said.
DRAGAN MIĆIĆ (Serbia), associating with the European Union, said the impact and consequences of migration surpassed national boundaries, and his country had faced numerous challenges in that last few years as it still provided shelter to a large number of refugees and internally displaced persons. Furthermore, many young, educated Serbians had left the country while a number of citizens had returned under re-admission agreements. In order to regulate migration flows, the Government had adopted the Strategy for the Management of Migrations in 2009 and established a coordinating and monitoring body, he said.
The average age of Serbian people was 40.7 years, making the country the fifth oldest in the world, he said, adding that high unemployment rates were driving people out. Serbia was working to launch programmes aimed at temporarily bringing back some of its young, highly educated workforce currently employed abroad. It also aimed to make it possible for young people to study and specialize at universities abroad and then return home. He affirmed his country’s full support for the Global Forum on Migration and Development, saying its upcoming meeting would be an excellent opportunity to consider how to reduce migration costs and maximize human development.
PALITHA KOHONA ( Sri Lanka) said migration was a priority of his country’s national development policy, given that an estimated 1.8 million Sri Lankans, or 8 per cent of the population, lived and worked abroad. The private remittances of migrants had significantly augmented the country’s foreign currency reserves and national income. They were estimated at $3 billion this year, and the national economy was poised to take off following the end of the three-decade-long conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The Government was investing heavily in infrastructure and the development of productive assets to optimize Sri Lanka’s strengths, he said, adding that it had taken steps to ensure migration was a key contributor to national development. A rights-based approach to managing international migration was critical, he said, pointing out that his country had ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Member of Their Families. He also applauded the recent adoption by the ILO Conference in Geneva of a resolution calling for the drafting of an international convention and supplementary recommendation to extend labour standards and social protections to domestic workers.
Concern over the exclusion by host countries of migrants from such essential social services as health care, formed the basis of a resolution endorsed by the Sixty-first World Health Assembly in May 2008, he continued. Sri Lanka was spearheading a multi-stakeholder and evidence-based process to develop a national policy on health and migration, with help from the International Organization for Migration, he said, expressing hope that it could be a model for other countries. Sri Lanka had adopted a national labour migration policy in 2009 to improve governance and regulation, provide protection and welfare services to migrant workers and mobilize remittances for development purposes.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), associating with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, said migrant workers were generally the first casualties during such a time, and thus today’s discussion was “an opportunity to think together” about the best way to promote convergence between the ideas of migration and development. Policies on that link must be based on the principles of human rights, solidarity and shared interest, he said. Furthermore, it was necessary to ensure universal ratification of the relevant international instruments, including the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
Emphasizing that the United Nations was the appropriate forum for discussions on international migration, he said his country supported its efforts to establish a follow-up mechanism that would promote dialogue while exploring ways to make migration work for development. Due to its geographical location and the policies implemented by some countries to restrict migration, Algeria had become a destination for migrants, he said, stressing in that regard, the need to for international consideration of the root causes of illegal migration. All efforts undertaken to combat it must be carried out with due respect for migrants’ human rights, and built upon the principle of shared responsibility among origin, transit and destination countries, he said, urging States to encourage and promote legal migration.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said that, in addition to its impact on economic growth and development, migration could, with the right policies, make communities more tolerant, open, universal and respectful of human rights. However, there was a tendency to criminalize migration, he said, noting that some legal initiatives and actions targeting ethnic minorities in different countries codified racism and xenophobia, creating barriers between communities and nations. That was unacceptable, he stressed.
As an origin, transit and destination country, Mexico had experienced the consequences of exploitation and violence executed by organized crime groups engaged in the trafficking of people and other horrible acts, he said, referring one such unfortunate incident involving migrants in August. The authorities, in coordination with the Governments of the affected nationals, continued to investigate that case and to establish coordination mechanisms that would prevent similar incidents from happening in the future while improving protection for migrants, regardless of their origin and immigration status.
Unemployment disproportionately affected the rights of migrant workers, and often increased the stigma and discrimination against them, he said, calling for measures to tackle that pattern. Mexico would host the Fourth Global Forum on Migration and Development in November, and it was to be hoped that the meeting would result in public policies that addressed the challenges migration created for origin, transit and destination countries of. The Forum would provide a framework for cooperation and dialogue among all stakeholders, as well as a “common space” to strengthen that interaction.
LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines), associating with the Group of 77 and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted that more Filipinos had gone abroad in the past two years and their remittances continued to increase on a month-to-month basis. It was for that reason that the Philippines had not fallen into recession during the recent global downturn. Migrants could also make significant contributions to the economies of host countries, he pointed out, adding that immigration increased employment with no evidence of crowding out locals. There was also evidence of gains in such areas as social diversity and capacity for innovation.
He said his country had one of the most developed programmes for addressing the welfare and protection of its own migrants. “Our policy is not to send away our people abroad; our policy is to accord the fullest protection to our nationals, wherever they may be and regardless of their immigration status.” More countries must ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, he said, adding in closing that everyone in the room could be “considered as temporary migrants or perhaps from migrant nations”. In that light, the Committee must give the issue its utmost attention, consideration and cooperation, he said.
MICHELE KLEIN SOLOMON, Permanent Observer, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said migration was good for receiving countries and helped break the cycle of poverty in sending countries. That was the message of the 2009 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and IOM’s 2008 World Migration Report, which advocated for improving the protection of migrants’ rights and lowering barriers to human mobility in order to advance human development. Emphasizing that migration was neither an obstacle to development nor a magic wand for achieving it, she said humanely managed migration provided positive support for the right to development and realization of the Millennium Goals.
She said that despite growing awareness of the connection between migration and development, most strategic development frameworks, including the Millennium Goals and Government development policies such as poverty reduction strategy papers still did not integrate migration concerns. The IOM encouraged the international community to make migration concerns a more regular component of development policies and planning, she said. With partner agencies of the Global Migration Group, it was preparing a handbook to help countries make the link between migration and poverty reduction a reality. The IOM worked to identify “development-friendly” migration policies, she said.
Successfully addressing migration and development required a comprehensive approach, she continued. Health was often overlooked in that debate, and needed more careful consideration, as did education and the environment. Migration governance must be a priority focus nationally and internationally. Respect for human rights was crucial for migration governance, she stressed, calling for the firm rejection of all forms of discrimination, intolerance and racism. Special consideration for vulnerable migrants must remain a priority.
She noted tremendous progress in recent years in inter-State dialogue on global migration, which had evolved from focusing exclusively on migration’s economic aspects, particularly remittances, to include social aspects, including its implications for health, gender, children, family relations and migrants’ rights. She applauded the Mexican Government for its leadership in constructively addressing those topics as Chair of next month’s Global Forum on Migration and Development, while seeking to identify practical approaches and stressing the principle of shared responsibility.
AMBER BARTH, Programme Officer, International Labour Organization (ILO), said the issue of migration was about labour, pointing out that an estimated 105 million of the total 214 million people living outside their home countries in 2010 were economically active and engaged in the world of work. The global financial crisis had had an enormous impact on labour mobility and migration, she noted, adding that migrants had been disproportionately affected, and had thus suffered from reduced access to social protection, scapegoating and xenophobic violence.
The experiences of developed and developing countries showed that efforts to reduce exploitation and ensure equality were crucial in building prosperity, social cohesion and democratic governance, she said. To that end, the “ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration: non-binding principles and guidelines for a rights-based approach to labour migration” called for expanded public support for employment-intensive recovery measures in both origin and destination countries. It also called for the strengthening of labour standards to ensure that decent work conditions were upheld for all migrant workers despite their status.
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