Italy’s Representative Mourns Loss of Migrants at Sea, as General Assembly Concludes High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development
Italy’s Representative Mourns Loss of Migrants at Sea, as General Assembly Concludes High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
27th & 28th Meetings (AM & PM)
Italy’s Representative Mourns Loss of Migrants at Sea, as General Assembly
Concludes High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development
Lamenting the deaths of more the 100 men, women and children shipwrecked in Lampedusa and the tireless search for more than 100 other migrants still missing, Italy’s representative said today that it was now up to the international community to address migration issues.
Speaking in the General Assembly as it concluded its High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development today, he said migrants brought rich benefits to both source and destination countries, and urged greater cooperation among agencies and source, transit and receiving countries to combat illegal migration. “International mobility is a multiplier of economic growth,” he said, noting that contributions from migrants made up 12 per cent of his country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
A common theme throughout the day mirrored that message. The delegate of Cameroon said the world needed to develop thought-through policies that recognized migration’s positive elements and to take a comprehensive approach where, not only the linkage between migration and development was considered, but how that linkage was connected to other spheres. “Hundreds of millions of people are in this global village together and we must seek common responses to the challenges,” he said. “A balance between the interests of the stakeholders must be struck to make the origin and destination countries mutual winners.”
The urgency of tackling migration challenges was obvious, many delegates said. Cape Verde’s representative said the fact that, in the twenty-first century, hundreds of people had drowned while pursuing their dreams was beyond shame and rested on the conscious of the world. “Climate refugees”, born from desertification, floods and other extreme conditions, were causing explosive migration worldwide, with millions displaced externally and internally.
“This is a force that cannot be stifled or stopped, so this issue must be dealt with together,” he said, stressing that, “if there’s an area where multilateralism is needed, it is this one. Unilateral action is of little use.”
The delegate of Nicaragua agreed, saying the international community should muster the necessary political will to protect migrants and effectively tackle the unjust economic order that was driving millions of people from their homelands in search of a better life in other countries. A globalized world called for coherent migration policies and a framework for the intelligent management of migration flows that would prevent human trafficking, she said.
Source countries faced a special challenge, said Myanmar’s representative. With Myanmar’s estimated 3 million overseas migrant workers, the Government, in cooperation with host countries, had been helping its migrant workers in neighbouring countries by issuing temporary passports so they could engage their labour rights. Myanmar was undergoing a rapid political and social-economic transformation, and there was hope that employment opportunities generated by foreign investments would attract its overseas expatriates and migrants to return home. “We are confidant that migrants can play an important role in promoting trade and investment through their financial capital, business networks, knowledge and skills,” he said.
Sodnomzundui Erdene, Mongolia’s Minister for Population Development and Social Protection, said that of his country’s population who had migrated abroad for more than six months, 41.3 per cent had moved for employment and 37 per cent for education. At the same time, the number of foreigners in Mongolia, most coming to work in the mining industry, had doubled since 2000. While policies were being implemented to ensure migrants’ rights efforts were also being made to create conditions that would enable Mongolian nationals to find decent work at home and to encourage those abroad to return.
Meanwhile, Malta’s representative said his delegation was not satisfied with the Declaration of the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, which should have reaffirmed in no uncertain terms, readmission of nationals irregularly staying in other States. Malta’s geographical location was at the crossroads of migratory flows, particularly from the south and the country had experienced heavy influxes of irregular migration from North Africa since 2002. Almost all those who reached Malta irregularly proceeded to apply for international protection, resulting in the asylum recognition rate rising 50 per cent over the past years.
The delegate of Libya had a similar concern, saying that his country had experienced the negative effects of migration, particularly due to the large flow of migrants that passed through Libya on their way to their country of destination. Many migrants came into the country illegally, and Libya ultimately had to cover the cost of returning those individuals to their country of origin.
Echoing a wide-spread concern among many delegations, he said Libya, like many developing nations, had experienced “brain drain”, especially as many doctors, engineers and other professionals left the country under the previous regime. The current Government was encouraging those individuals to return home and contribute to the development of Libya.
Closing the two-day Dialogue, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Migration, Peter Sutherland, praised delegates for covering a broad range of issues. Chairs of the four round tables held concurrently to the Dialogue summarized their discussions.
In his closing remarks, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson asked the participants to rise for a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Lampedusa boat crash. He then told the Assembly how impressed and encouraged he had been by the Dialogue and by the common ground identified during the discussions.
“Our milestone joint declaration on the significance of migration for development and on the protection of the rights of all migrants points to the remarkable strides we have made,” he said, adding: “It is within our power to make migration a positive force for development, as well as for peace and security and human rights.”
Also delivering statements, mostly at the ministerial level, were representatives of Romania, Mongolia, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Viet Nam, Dominican Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Yemen, United Republic of Tanzania, Colombia, Senegal, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, Egypt, Montenegro, Singapore, Gabon, India, Myanmar, Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, Portugal, Cape Verde, Zimbabwe, Slovenia, Haiti, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Iraq, Pakistan, Ukraine, Cyprus, Guatemala, Argentina, Uganda, Malaysia, Uruguay, Rwanda and Tonga.
Others speaking today included representatives of the International Organization for Migration, International Development Law Organization, League of Arab States, International Centre for Migration Policy Development, Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, Organization of American States and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The representatives of the Building and Woodworkers’ International and the World Economic Forum also spoke.
General Assembly Vice-President Mamadi Touré ( Guinea) delivered closing remarks on behalf of the President.
The General Assembly will reconvene on Monday, 7 October, to open the sixth High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development.
Continuing the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development this morning, the General Assembly had before it the report of the Secretary-General on international migration and development (document A/68/190), and his note titled Organization of the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (document A/68/162). For details, see Press Release GA/11434.
CRISTIAN DAVID, Minister Delegate for Romanians Abroad of Romania, said that over the last 10 years, remittances within the European Union space had become one of the engines for his country’s economic growth. However, aid coordination was a structural instrument that the international community should strengthen in order to ensure a balanced distribution of benefits between origin and destination countries. There was an urgent need for close cooperation among all stakeholders, origin and destination countries, local and central authorities, as well as civil society.
Full respect for the human rights and freedoms of migrants was a critical necessity, he said. It was a fundamental task of leadership, particularly with regard to vulnerable migrants exposed to a high risk of abuse. Setbacks relating to discrimination and xenophobia were also of concern, he said. A full spectrum of integration policies should be developed in the social, economic and education areas. International labour standards should be respected and proactive measures adopted.
SODNOMZUNDUI ERDENE, Minister for Population Development and Social Protection of Mongolia, said the 2010 census estimated that over 4 per cent of his country’s population lived abroad. Of those who were out of the country for more than 6 months, 41.3 per cent had moved for employment and 37 per cent for education. At the same time, the number of foreigners in Mongolia, most who came to work in the mining industry had doubled since 2000. While human mobility across national borders was increasing, the lack of comprehensive data and inadequate regulation led to an inability for migrants to engage in decent work and avoid trafficking and crimes against their rights.
Policies were being pursued, he said, to ensure migrants’ rights and maximize the positive impact of migration on development. Priority was given to ensure conditions for Mongolian nationals to find decent work at home and to encourage those abroad to return. Efforts were also underway to improve laws on migration management, ensuring migrants’ rights and to redesign regulations to align labour migration with the needs of the domestic labour market. Further the Government was engaging in bi-lateral agreements to, among others, ensure social guarantees for nationals living abroad, particularly women and children, and those who had become multi-cultural families.
SAEED Al-SHAMSI, Assistant Foreign Minister for International Organizations of the United Arab Emirates, calling the High-level Dialogue a new phase of international cooperation, pointed out that the Arab Gulf was regarded as one of the world’s most attractive regions for mobile labour. The States of the Gulf Cooperation Council hosted nearly 17 million workers of various nationalities. While the contributions of those workers were clear and measurable, his Government’s efforts were directed at ensuring that the output of labour mobility would reach out across borders and that all parties concerned would benefit from it.
The fundamental rights of mobile labour were the “gateway to human development”, he continued. Thus, the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, composed of Asian source and receiving countries and chaired by the Philippines, had undertaken different initiatives, such as the development of workers’ skills before their arrival to the United Arab Emirates and the documentation and recognition of skills acquired during their stay, as well as the development of information systems to match supply and demand. His Government looked forward to cooperating with international entities, particularly the World Bank, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, to implement several additional projects that were under way with member States of the Dialogue.
GÖTZ SCHMIST-BREMME, Director of Consular and Migration Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, said the Lampedusa tragedy was a sober reminder of the need to turn attention to migration issues. Syrians pouring out of their country was another example of the current global reality. Germany had shaped its own migration policy with other countries and continued to ensure equal chances of integration and equal chances for all.
He went on to say that areas specifically being focused on included the integration and self-organization of migrant women and youth, a better recognition of educational certificates and lowering remittance transfer costs. In efforts to address migration issues in the region, his Government had also worked with other countries and deepened partnerships bilaterally. Because migration was clearly linked to development, he stressed, it should be so considered during discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.
LY QUOC TUAN, Deputy Director-General at the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said his country’s policy was aimed at managing migration and combating illegal migration and human trafficking, especially those involving women and children. Ministries and unions had been set up to deal with those and other related issues. Measures for prosecution and prevention had also been one of the Government’s activities along with the Colombo Process and other regional and international efforts, including with non-governmental organizations.
In recent years, his country had made a number of commitments, he said, including ratifying the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and other bilateral instruments with countries in the region. Emphasizing that migration, development and related issues should be on the post-2015 development agenda, he emphasized that Viet Nam would continue its cooperation on migration issues at all levels.
JOSÉ RICARDO TAVERAS BLANCO, General Director of the Department of Migration, Dominican Republic said his country, a melting pot of races where migration had great influence, was one of origin, destination and transit. Further, migration was recognized as a multi-dimensional issue that had a major impact on the Dominican Republic’s development. Since migration took place in the quest for opportunities not yet found, it should not be analysed strictly in human or economic terms, but allow for all underpinning factors to be considered.
Urging that all efforts be made to provide protection of migrants basic rights, in particular with the trafficking and smuggling of individuals, he stated that he believed the unfair distribution of wealth in the world was a major driver of migration. Remittances provided new hope for those who had been denied access to opportunities. Until world leaders devised a systematic programme and reduced the unjustified realities that exist in many nations suffering from poverty, migration would continue in different forms. The international community also needed to find ways to protect the security and identity of nations and ensure the rights of States to govern their own affairs.
RUZMIRA TIHIC-KADRIC, Assistant Minister for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, stressed the need for the final outcome document from the High-level Dialogue to make serious efforts aimed at mainstreaming international migration into foreign, development, educational, social and all relevant policies at the national, regional and global levels. Migration was a global issue and must be regulated at the global level, she said, adding that her country wished to be a part of a global solution.
She said that for five years now, national institutions had independently prepared annual migration profiles which included sections on emigration and remittances. In the last few years, the Government had hosted major regional events on migration and development. Furthermore, it had participated in studies and projects with the International Organization for Migration and non-governmental organizations, she said. The Government had signed a Migration Partnership with Switzerland to strengthen development-oriented cooperation with the diaspora and foster bilateral relations on migration and development between the two countries.
MARÍA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO ( Nicaragua) said an unjust economic order was driving millions of people from their homelands in search of a better life in other countries. A globalized world called for coherent migration policies and a framework for the intelligent management of migration flows that would prevent human trafficking. Long overlooked, the contributions of migrants to the socio—economic development of both sending and receiving countries had not yet been duly recognized, she said, pointing out that the 10 per cent of Nicaraguans lived in other countries and were the main source of remittances sent back home. The Government had established mobile consulates in those countries and provided information on investment policies and free education and health in their homeland. Those and other efforts had led to the return of some Nicaraguans citizens. “Without political will, we cannot effectively deal with this matter,” she cautioned. “Member States must make an effective contribution to help migrants.”
DIMITRIS CARAMITSOS-TZIRAS ( Greece) said migration and development were intrinsically linked and required partnerships between sending and receiving countries, as well as between the private sector and other stakeholders. Greece continued to deal with significant migration flows while coping with financial crises and regional geopolitical problems. It tackled both illegal and legal immigration by respecting immigrants’ asylum queries and managing migration flows. Greece promoted a policy of cooperation among the main actors involved, including with the European Union, in order to prevent illegal immigration. He called for a policy framework that could help migrants returning to their homelands and ease the way for those preferring integration into the European Union.
MUGAHEED ABDULLAH AL QUHALI, Minister for Immigration Affairs of Yemen, said migration had brought people and practices together since the beginning of time. Migrants were ambassadors and they brought their culture with them. Migration also reduced violence, brought stability and filled gaps between States. The Arab Spring had not been caused by the violation of rights, but rather, it was the awakening of a generation of young people who had been living in extreme poverty. Yemen had faced major challenges of unemployment and refugees from the Horn of Africa fleeing conflict situations, he said.
Yemen’s leaders had provided as much assistance as they could, while upholding the rights and dignities of migrants, he continued, expressing hope that foreign assistance would continue to flow for development programmes. Without international assistance, Yemen would have been the victim of a civil war that would have destroyed the country, he pointed out. Despite difficulties, it had developed a system for regularizing migration on a positive, modern basis. Yemen had established a training plan for foreign workers and coordinated efforts with various bodies to confront and combat illegal migration. The Government had also adopted social protection laws and hosted a conference for workers every four years.
CELESTINE J. MUSHY (United Republic of Tanzania) said countries like his own which were both transit points and destinations for migrants faced myriad challenges, ranging from armed criminality to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and violations of wildlife and conservation rules and regulations. Most countries that were surrounded by conflict/war-prone countries had experienced the same situation, he noted, emphasizing that each Government must, therefore, be given ample space to determine its migration policies and priorities, consistent with its geopolitical location and international standards. “There is no one size fits all in this regard,” he stressed. While supporting the Dialogue’s outcome, he said, the Declaration to be adopted lacked focus and a clear link between migration and development in the context of the post-2015 development framework. Consultations on the subject must continue in order to give a clear picture of migration’s role in the future development framework.
ÁLVARO CALDERÓN PONCE DE LEÓN, Director of Consular and Migration Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, said that the governance of migration must be the result of a global commitment in the form of an international convention. Although Colombia had traditionally been a country of origin, in the last decade there had been an increase in the number of migrants coming into the country. As well, his country had become a point of transit for irregular migrants who often became victims of international trafficking networks. His Government was building institutions which provided assistance to victims and punished those trafficking migrants.
He stated that a new law was recently created that coordinated migration policies, including regulations for the return of Colombian migrants. He explained that Colombia also had a new migration initiative built on service, security and human rights and his country hoped to present it to the international community as a model of best practices. The system provided services to migrants and guaranteed protections for those that were vulnerable to trafficking or smuggling.
TOMMO MONTHE ( Cameroon) said that at a time of unprecedented human mobility, enhanced management of migration flows must include practical measures to better serve the goals of development and improve the lives of migrants. The enormous opportunities emerging from globalization and the technology and communications boom had only accentuated that fact. “Hundreds of millions of people are in this global village together and we must seek common responses to the challenges,” he stated. While migration could be the by-product of the lack of development in origin countries and could also exacerbate underdevelopment, migration could not be labelled as an obstacle to development nor was it a “magic wand” to help development. It was incumbent on the world to develop thought-through policies that recognized migration’s positive elements and to take a comprehensive approach where, not only the linkage between migration and development was considered, but how that linkage was connected to other spheres.
Further, he said, an integrated, consolidated coordination of national capacities and the cooperation between the United Nations, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was needed to improve the consistency and inter-activity between international migration and development. His Government was developing a national policy of protection for the diaspora and was negotiating the management of migration flows with other countries, including France and Switzerland. “A balance between the interests of the stakeholders must be struck to make the origin and destination countries mutual winners,” he said. Co-development remained the key to this for the countries concerned and he urged the international community to commit to a political dialogue on international migration for development.
WANG MIN ( China) said that because migration and development were closely linked, it had generated over $400 billion in remittances, contributing to poverty eradication and towards achieving the Millennium Goals. Yet, recently discrimination and illegal immigration existed while the “brain drain” also weighed heavy on countries of origin. Noting his country’s support in promoting the development of all countries, he said there must be a way to cap the positive elements of migrants’ contributions. Sustainable development worldwide could not exist when some countries grew their economies while others lagged behind. Developed countries should provide financial and technical assistance towards achieving the Millennium Goals.
Also needed, he said, were effective measures to eliminate discrimination and remove irrational policies, facilitating the migrants’ integration. Joint efforts were needed among origin, transit and destination countries, to share the benefits of migration. Migration should be included as a positive element in achieving sustainable development objectives. Due to economic growth, China was becoming a destination country and the Government was working on policies to prevent illegal migration and to promote normal population flows across the world.
KHALY ADAMA NDOUR, Counsellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Senegal, aligning with the statement of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, observed migration enabled destination countries to receive a labour force, while remittances sent to countries of origin enhanced growth and the quality of life. That was especially true for his country, given the more than 1 million Senegalese nationals working abroad. Senegal recently launched a partnership with international agencies and States through which specific projects had been created for Senegalese expatriates.
However, he said, the conditions for sending remittances should be further improved to reduce costs and decrease the amount that flowed through informal channels. As well, the violation of the rights of migrants and irregular migration were two other major challenges. Senegal had established a strategy to curb clandestine flows leaving the Senegalese coast, and in 2005, adopted a law geared towards reducing trafficking. He urged all countries to comply with all relevant conventions in the field.
JUN YAMAZAKI ( Japan) pointed out that international migration included not only voluntary migration, but also involuntary migration resulting from conflicts or natural disasters. It was, therefore, important to take into account all underlying reasons in discussing that issue. His country had been undertaking various programmes in addressing migration issues, such as supporting refugees, internally displaced persons and human trafficking victims, helping a number of countries strengthen border control, promoting regional cooperation and information sharing in combating human trafficking, and providing assistance for migrant capacity-building. Stressing the importance of the nexus of international migration and development, he said Japan would continue to actively participate in the discussions on that topic.
DAVID ROET ( Israel ) observed that the Jewish people had been born in migration over three thousand years ago and had repeatedly been exiled, uprooted and displaced. His father, a child survivor of the Holocaust, who immigrated to Israel in 1949, devoted his life to promoting human rights and community engagement. Indeed, migrants made rich and lasting contributions to their communities. Since its inception, Israel had opened its doors to millions of them, including from the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it welcomed an influx of immigrants from Ethiopia and one million Soviet refugees.
He recalled the broad range of policies offered to immigrants, including financial assistance, Hebrew lessons and access to the justice system. Addressing further challenges required the combined efforts of Government and civil society, as the latter played a fundamental role in assisting migrants. He rejected the silencing of non-governmental organizations, stating that the barring of certain Israeli organizations from participation was clearly as a result of where they were based, rather than on the basis of their work.
ELMAHDI ELMAJERBI ( Libya) said that, as both a country of origin and transit, his country had experienced the negative effects of migration, particularly due to the large flow of migrants that passed through Libya on their way to their country of destination. Many migrants came into the country illegally, and Libya ultimately had to cover the cost of returning those individuals to their country of origin. While many such migrants had been returned home, Libya had settled more than 1 million migrants who were now legalized and sending remittances back to their country of origin. As well, like many developing nations, his country had experienced “brain drain”, especially as many doctors, engineers and other professionals left the country under the previous regime. The current Government was encouraging those individuals to return home and contribute to the development of Libya.
STEPHANIE LEE ( New Zealand) said her country was, to a large extent, a country of migrants, both coming to and leaving the country. More so, immigration would play a huge role due to the large number of workers that would be required to rebuild Christchurch following recent earthquakes. New Zealand had a distinctive history of providing opportunities for people from Pacific island countries to access employment both in skilled and unskilled roles. The Government had introduced the Recognized Season Employer scheme for managed labour migration in 2006. The scheme allowed for up to 8,000 people a year to come to New Zealand to work in horticulture and viticulture industries. It was regarded as a win-win migration policy; it fulfilled a labour need in a developed country and provided job opportunities and remittance flows back to developing countries.
ANTONIO BERNARDINI (Italy) said that it was with sorrow that he was taking the floor today after the events off the cost of the Italian island of Lampedusa: so far, 111 bodies had been recovered and over 100 were still missing, most of them children, women, pregnant women and men, all looking for a better future. Emphasizing that international migration should be included in the post-2015 development agenda, he said that Italy had taken many initiatives, such as the adoption of “migrant centre strategies”, as well as bilateral and multilateral accords, one of which had also been showcased by the United Nations Development Programme and the International Organization for Migration.
Further, he said, Italy had a tradition of migration as a source country and today it had become a receiving one. International mobility was a multiplier of economic growth, with 12 per cent contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). His country was focusing on reducing the cost of remittances from more than 10 per cent to 5 per cent over a time span of five years. In the current year, that had been decreased to 7.3 per cent. Turning to human trafficking affecting so many migrants, more cooperation among agencies and source, transit and receiving countries was needed to combat it, with the International Organization for Migration having a leading role. It was up to the international community to pave the way, as the stakes could not be higher, he concluded.
MOOTAZ AHMADEIN KHALIL ( Egypt) said the issue of migration should become a vital part of international deliberations on the post-2015 agenda as a cross-cutting enabler of development in all its dimensions. Migration offered endless opportunities and brought about a multitude of challenges. However, migrants were humans who did not relinquish their dignity or rights at the borders they crossed. Calling for greater efforts to combat human trafficking, he urged States to do more to improve public perceptions of migrants, end religious intolerance and xenophobia, and better integrate migrants in society. Highlighting Egypt’s strong links with its nationals living around the world and the need to streamline the remittance process, he said the development dimension of migration was broader than the issue of remittances.
MILORAD ŠĆEPANOVIĆ ( Montenegro) said poor economic conditions in the past had made his country an origin of migration. European migratory flows also made it a transit country. With economic growth, the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia and liberalization of the European Union visa regime, his country had become a destination for migrants. As such, it was clear why Montenegro needed a strategic approach to migration that was based on full respect for human rights. While States bore the primary duty for managing migration, cooperation and coordinated actions among all stakeholders — including States, global organizations, civil society and the private sector - was needed. He urged States to make more decisive efforts to ensure broader involvement of migrants in society.
KAREN TAN ( Singapore) said that foreign workers accounted for one third of the country’s workforce and that their number had increased by 45 per cent to 1.3 million over the past five years. Further, Singapore’s growth and development would not have been possible without migrants. “Most Singaporeans are descendents of migrants and so we celebrate their presence in our society,” he stated.
He pointed out that his country had adopted many policies and measures to promote the well-being of migrants and ensure their equal treatment, including requiring employers to provide migrant workers with adequate food, rest, accommodation and medical insurance, as well as mandating a weekly rest day for domestic workers. Member States were responsible for providing decent work opportunities for their citizens, so as to make migration a choice instead of a necessity, he stated, and he called on all countries of origin, transit and destination to cooperate in dealing with the challenges of migration.
NELSON MESSONE ( Gabon) pointed out that his country was both a transit and destination nation for migrants that welcomed people from other African States. Although migrant labour contributed significantly to the economies of the countries of destination, countries of origin experienced a loss of qualified workers. His country had put in place policies to attract those skilled workers back. It had also integrated the rights and protection of migrant workers into its legislation since 1987. In January 2014, a new law was to be adopted, which would allow free circulation among countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community. In terms of bilateral agreements, Gabon was cooperating with France on the management of migratory flows, and supported the Moroccan initiative of an African Alliance for Migration and Development.
ASOKE KUMAR MUKERJI ( India) said that although remittances from international migrants contributed to development in the countries of origin, they were not a substitute to official development assistance (ODA) or other forms of development financing, as was often suggested. “They represent the sheer dint of hard work and efforts of migrants in the countries of their destination,” he pointed out. In that regard, international commitments on ODA and development financing could not be diluted.
Further, he said, greater policy support was needed at the international level on the issue of short-term migration, in particular on issues related to portability of pensions and social security contributions. Attention also must be paid to the temporary movement of natural persons to supply services which was a response to specific skill shortages and thus provided direct benefits to the destination economies. It was a matter of grave concern that instead of facilitating such movements, Governments in some major economies had recently imposed greater restrictions by way of steep hike in visa fees, and quotas.
KYAW TIN ( Myanmar) said that with its estimated 3 million overseas migrant workers, his country was one of the source countries facing both challenges and opportunities of migration. The Government, in cooperation with host countries, had been helping its migrant workers in neighbouring countries by issuing temporary passports to make them legal and able to enjoy their labour rights.
Noting that his country was undergoing a rapid political and social-economic transformation, he expressed hope that the employment opportunities generated by foreign investments would attract its overseas expatriates and migrants to return home. “We are confidant that migrants can play an important role in promoting trade and investment through their financial capital, business networks, knowledge and skills,” he said. Stressing the importance of reliable data and information for policy implementation, he said the forthcoming 2014 census would produce more accurate figures.
CHRISTOPHER GRIMA ( Malta), aligning with the European Union, stated that, while migration offered opportunities for many, it was also often a source of abuse. Malta’s geographical location was at the crossroads of migratory flows, particularly from the south and the country had experienced heavy influxes of irregular migration from North Africa since 2002. Almost all those who reached Malta irregularly proceeded to apply for international protection, and the asylum recognition rate in Malta had consistently exceeded 50 per cent over the past years.
Further, irregular migration undermined legal migration policies, he said, exposing migrants to situations of exploitation and even in certain regional scenarios, to the risk of loss of life in the desert and at sea. As a result, he concluded, the Maltese delegation was not satisfied with the Declaration of the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, which should have reaffirmed in no uncertain terms, readmission of own nationals irregularly staying in other States.
RODNEY CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago), aligning himself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said his country was increasingly becoming a transit point for migrants heading north. Recognizing the nexus among labour, migration and development, his Government had implemented structured labour programmes to encourage those migrants to stay and work in the country. Through such programmes, health professionals from abroad now resided and worked in his country, making valuable contributions to the health sector. Skilled nationals of China also worked in the local construction business.
However, at the same time, he said, many skilled and highly educated nationals were migrating to developed countries, such as the United States and Europe. That included the migration of skilled workers from the more than 100‑year-old oil industry to other countries to assist in the development of their oil and gas industries. Outward migration did contribute to the economy through remittances and provided a vibrant market for cultural exports, but it also presented the challenge of “brain drain”.
CRISTINA PUCARINHO ( Portugal) highlighted the benefits of migration for all stakeholders. There were a myriad of contributions to countries of origin and destination, including economic growth and human development, and enriched societies through cultural diversity. Her country’s national action plan aimed to promote integration, including through employment opportunities, access to health and education services, and family reunification.
Yet despite the many benefits of migration, she said, protection of migrants remained an urgent and growing human rights challenge. Migrants experienced the denial of access to fundamental economic and social rights and were closely linked to discriminatory laws and practices, and deep-seated attitudes of prejudice and xenophobia. In that regard, Portugal had developed a legal and institutional framework that ensured safe and secure migration, the protection of their rights, with special support aimed at the most vulnerable populations such as women and children.
ANTONIO PEDRO MONTEIRO LIMA ( Cape Verde) said the fact that, in the twenty-first century, hundreds of people drowned while pursuing their dreams was beyond shame and rested on the conscious of the world. The terrible tragedy of Lampedusa underlined that nothing could stop those migrants from their dreams or their will to live and succeed. “This is a force that cannot be stifled or stopped, so this issue must be dealt with together,” he stated, stressing that “if there’s an area where multilateralism is needed, it is this one. Unilateral action is of little use.” With 230 million migrants on the eve of 2015, the world must aim to better regulate flows while taking human rights into account.
He went on to say that a firm and sustainable method was the cornerstone for that common enterprise. Remittances, for instance, were an important part of the national budget, and Cape Verde was working to coordinate relevant policies. In the case of the partnership of mobility with his country and the European Union, efforts included aid for economic inclusion and for nationals to enable them to return to their country of origin. “Climate refugees”, born from desertification, floods and other extreme conditions, was causing explosive migration worldwide, with millions displaced externally and internally. Since most delegates in the room were migrants, he reminded them that immigration allowed for contributions that benefitted both countries and individuals. Hope was always present when an immigrant arrived to build a new future, he concluded.
LANGTON NGORIMA, Chief Labour Officer, Ministry of Labour of Zimbabwe said that apart from sending remittances, migrants and diaspora communities could also promote trade, facilitate technology transfer and strengthen cultural ties. With the right policies, they would make significant contributions to the development of both countries of origin and destination. In that regard, his country had suffered from the loss of highly-skilled workers, particularly in the fields of health and engineering. Stressing the need for more coordinated policies to ensure both origin and destination countries could benefit from migration, he also expressed concerns about the strains placed by irregular migrants on his country’s resources, and he called for more international assistance in dealing with the burden.
ANDREJ LOGAR ( Slovenia), stating support for a global agenda of action on international migration and development, said protection of the human rights of all migrants was of particular importance to his country, adding that providing support for vulnerable groups such as women, children and human-trafficking victims was crucial. He also called for more synergy and better coordination between the various United Nations agencies as well as other regional and international organizations. To highlight migration benefits and deal with the challenges, a holistic approach was needed to address all the aspects in a balanced way, he said, underscoring, as well, the importance of better data collection and research.
ASTRIDE NAZAIRE ( Haiti) said that one fifth of her country’s population lived abroad. In the second half of the last century, Haiti had experienced a massive “brain drain” with consequences in all spheres of life. Today, the Haitian diaspora, however, was a fundamental well of financial, intellectual and professional resources. However, there was concern for the challenges posed to migrants’ human rights both in transition and destination countries. Such challenges had only been intensified by the global financial crisis. Further, it seemed as if the international migration flows — legal and non-regulated — would only increase in the future, due to different factors.
Her Government, she said, encouraged the recognition of the crucial role played by migrants in their countries of destination. This was the only way to improve the way foreign workers were perceived. An action-oriented approach was needed, with particular attention to human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and children. The foundations of such action were to be found in multilateral instruments, such as the Migrant Workers Convention and the Domestic Workers Convention. Concluding, she emphasized the importance of international concerted efforts aimed at benefiting both the source and destination countries, and expressed her disagreement for unilateral, “ex cathedra” decisions.
COLIN BECK ( Solomon Islands) said globalization, technology and modern transportation had made the world smaller, making migrant workers agents for development. More was needed, however, to address the negative impact of migration. While South-South migration was growing, South-North migration was still important, as economic migration was common for families seeking support for themselves. In the Pacific, there was a seasonal labour measure that looked after the welfare of migrants. With a high youth population and unemployment, many were looking for work and some developments included an economic boom in Papua New Guinea that had created jobs. However, migration also stemmed from those fleeing conflict and climate change. Discussions should thus focus on those issues as well as on conflict prevention.
GEORGE WILFRED TALBOT ( Guyana) said that, while the interrelationships between migration and development were complex, no one could deny that migration had benefited countries of destination and origin and the migrants themselves. Migration was a reality and the international community bore a responsibility to protect migrants. As a country of origin, transit and destination, his country recognized that migrants had made contributions to Guyana and, likewise, Guyana’s citizens had made contributions in the countries in which they had settled.
However, he went on to say, migration had also led to a loss of critical skilled professionals, with many Guyanese leaving after completing their education for opportunities abroad. Those leaving often sent help home, with recent remittances sent to Guyana comprising almost 10 per cent of its GDP. Guyana was now working on a diaspora project to enable contributions of migrants abroad to bolster development at home. Mixed migration flows, including human trafficking, were a growing concern, though, and safeguards were needed for the protection of such vulnerable populations.
NORACHIT SINHASENI ( Thailand) said migration should be seen as a dynamic and long-term process, in order to manage it in a sustainable manner. The positive and negative sides of migration needed to be discussed in a more open atmosphere, in order to find ways of integrating migration policies into the national agenda. Thailand was in the unique position of being a country of origin, transit and destination for regular and irregular migrants. Therefore, it had always exerted tremendous effort towards comprehensive and holistic management. The goal of guaranteeing safe and humane migration conditions must go hand in hand with prospects for growth and development. It was then necessary to have accurate data collection and cooperation among different sectors of society. Adequate reflection of migration-related aspects would encourage greater mainstreaming of migration into national development policies of countries.
MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM (Iraq), associating with the statement of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that the transfer of Iraqi skills was one of the main factors that affected development, particular health and education. “It is a loss,” he continued, noting that the main reasons behind Iraqi migration were due mostly economic and security factors. Therefore, it was crucial to enhance his country’s development and to combat terrorism as a way of reducing Iraqi migration. His Government had found it challenging to gather data on migration and its influence on Iraqi economy. It had, nevertheless, taken measures to include the issue into national plans and development strategies, which aimed at regulating migration and reinforcing cooperation with regional organizations.
SAHEBZADA A. KHAN (Pakistan), joining the statement of the Group of 77 and China, said that international cooperation on migration should address the factors that trigger migration, and establish a single integrative framework to govern its economic, financial and human rights aspects. Further, States should introduce temporary migration programmes addressing the needs of sending and receiving countries, while ensuring an adequate legal framework to protect migrants’ rights. As well, an efficient regulatory framework to make low-cost remittances to families back home should be developed.
He also said that international collaboration could produce coherent policy and coordination on migration at the national and international levels and undertake comprehensive analytical studies on the benefits of migration to development, while strengthening regional consultative processes in that area. Urging that the Global Migration Forum be strengthened, he said: “ Pakistan believes that without the requisite machinery and institutional support, it will be difficult to advance the objectives of generating and sustaining the much-needed coherence and coordination on migration issues.”
YURIY SERGEYEV ( Ukraine) said that while migrants’ remittances effectively complemented the social function of his Government, it also deprived the country of precious human resources. The outflow of citizens created demographic disparities, raised the risk of violation of the rights and freedoms of Ukrainians abroad, and threatened to undermine family relationships. It also deprived the country of fresh ideas, innovation and talent for the future. Ukraine was constantly developing State institutions and legislation in order to address those problems.
“We believe that the strategic objectives of our activity should be the return of migrants to their homeland and the creation of conditions for the most productive and efficient use of the experience gained abroad,” he stated. On the other hand, the protection of rights and interests of Ukrainian citizens abroad was a core priority of his Government. Building partnerships on migration, ensuring cross-border cooperation and stimulating an open exchange of best practices were key elements of addressing and minimizing the negative effects of migration.
NICHOLAS EMILIOU ( Cyprus) said that the international community recognized that migration affected development, and thus, it required a political response. After six years, the Global Forum had become indispensible, creating a common understanding on migration. His country supported its work although he called for the body to be strengthened.
He also said that countries of origin and destination both faced a number of common issues, including, among others, human smuggling and trafficking and national security. Because of its very strategic location and proximity to conflict areas, Cyprus received a disproportionate number of asylum seekers. His country had made significant strides in that matter, including action plans for the integration of migrants into society and combating the trafficking of human beings, while improving its asylum system. The challenge of the voluntary return of migrants to their country of origin, however, remained.
RITA CLAVERIE DE SCIOLLI, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said that, as a country of origin, transit and destination, there were recommendations her country would like to see implemented. Among them was the inclusion of migration in the post-2015 development agenda, as migrants should be seen not only as recipients, but also as an active part of human development. Further, the international community should be able to provide data on migration and recognize equity as the guiding principle in the relation between migration, development and human security. Migrants should know that, irrespective of their migratory status, they could have access to justice, health and education. That would be the only way to break the link between migrants and organized crime. Ensuring that the human, social and economic dimensions of migration be included in the post-2015 development agenda would equate to “ensuring a full human development”, she said in conclusion.
MATEO ESTREME (Argentina), associating with the statement of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that, because his country believed all migrants should be treated with respect, regardless of their migratory status, a rights-based approach had been implemented 10 years ago. Migrants were included in the economy and labour market, received social services and cultural respect. Because the regularization of migrants was of critical importance, he called for an international convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and their families, with the underlying forces of migration being considered in the context of the full international system. Not enough had been done to combine migration and development issues, but he believed the United Nations was the place to have a policy debate, which he hoped would lead to an international convention on migration.
RICHARD NDUHUURA ( Uganda) said the Dialogue was a special opportunity to seek ways of maximizing development benefits of international migration, while reducing negative effects. He urged an exchange of views on governance of international migration and its part in sustainable development, and the role of the United Nations and Member States in managing migratory flows. Underscoring the need to promote conditions for cheaper, faster and safer transfers of remittances in both source and recipient countries, he called for a greater commitment by the international community to respect and protect all migrants’ human rights. The ratification and implementation of relevant international instruments and the adoption of effective national and regional policies would be an effective way of preventing and combating human trafficking and protecting victims.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said the key challenge for his country was striking a balance between the need to maximize the economic benefits from migration and the desire to protect the interests of all concerned. Malaysia’s foreign worker policy was, thus, premised on the need to manage migration in cooperation with source countries so all stakeholders would benefit. He underlined the importance of formulating and implementing policies and measures at the global level that met the needs of all sides. The issue of remittances was crucial for migrants and correlated to global development, he said, emphasizing that Malaysia imposed no restrictions on foreign workers sending money back home. Further, those workers enjoyed the full protection of their human rights in accordance with Malaysian laws.
JOSÉ LUIS CANCELA ( Uruguay) said no effective protection of migrants’ human rights had been achieved, nor had a shift in public perception of stereotypes of migrants taken place, either. With hope that the High-level Meeting would prove to be a decisive forum for future actions, he echoed the view of other countries that migrants should have universal access to health services, particularly sexual and reproductive, irrespective of their migratory status. A holistic approach should in fact be adopted. As well, even though remittances contributed significantly to countries’ economies, in no way could they replace ODA. He then recommended that an entity within the United Nations, which should follow the leadership of IOM, should be devoted to migration.
JEANNE D’ARC BYAJE (Rwanda), aligning with the statement of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, and endorsing the statement of the African Union and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said it was time that the positive role of migration was recognised in many areas. Migrants were drivers of innovation and, therefore, countries should implement policies to protect their rights in the workplace. Further, it was time to address xenophobia and racism and carry out a discussion that ensured migration issues would be part of global political debates.
She went on to say that human mobility should be recognized as a fundamental component of people’s rights. Migration policies were often changed to fit political agendas, with adverse affects on immigrants all over the world. There should be a comprehensive approach to migration, with civil society in a critical role that stressed the power of partnerships and the protection of migrants’ rights. Her country had policies that valued people, irrespective of their country of origin and had in place a no-visa requirement for Africans who wanted to travel to Rwanda. Migratory flows had been reversed in Rwanda, and the country was experiencing an influx of its nationals being repatriated.
MAHE ‘ULI’ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA ( Tonga) said his country was a “mature-migration remittance economy”, with remittances representing 39 per cent of its GDP. They improved income distribution, alleviated poverty and stimulated business activity. However, recently, remittances had declined, which begged the question of how to buffer the impacts on migrants. To increase labour mobility, he urged increasing investments in transferrable skills development. There were social and cultural challenges associated with migration and Tonga provided support, at a regional level, to address issues, such as the growing number of deportees. He also called for reliable migration statistics.
WILLIAM SWING, Director-General of IOM, said that, as the leading agency on migration, IOM comprised 151 member States, active in 470 field locations, implementing 3,000 projects per year. It had, therefore, a clear view of the increasing importance of migration, which was the megatrend of the twenty-first century. No longer could States, people and organizations think about their economies and societies without thinking about human mobility. Recalling the High-level Meeting of 2006, he said it was striking that the challenges related to migration seemed similar around the world and that more countries were simultaneously country of origin, transit and destination.
“Migration is integral to development but not a substitute for it. By the same token, migrants can be agents of development but should not be made responsible for it,” he continued. It was a “cruel irony”, however, that at a moment of the greatest mobility in recorded history, there was a rising tide of anti-migrant sentiment in much of the world. It was Governments’ responsibility to dispel destructive stereotypes. Indentifying the main areas that required a dedicated attention, including investment in fact-based migration policies and managing migration in crisis situations, he stated that migration was “inevitable”, “necessary” and even “desirable”.
He concluded by reading a statement on behalf of the Global Migration Group, which he currently chaired, with a set of practical recommendations to measure progress on key migration issues. All policies had to be centred on human beings, as “migrants are not commodities or factors of production”, but rather mothers and fathers seeking a better life for their families, young people using their talents to realize their dreams and ambitions, and individuals trying to escape discrimination, poverty and conflict. The globalization of “personhood” should, therefore, go hand in hand with the globalization of trade.
IRENE KHAN, Director-General of the International Development Law Organization, said that the rule of law must be at the core of an effective and inclusive agenda for international migration. “Human rights are universal and inherent, irrespective of migratory status,” she stressed. Therefore, equality before the law and its fair application was critical and must translate into good laws, policy and regulations that furthered the rule of law and the protection of migrants’ rights, and migrants, particularly the most vulnerable.
Access to justice, with clear pathways to care and protection, also needed to be ensured, she stated. Further, domestic legislation on human trafficking must align with international standards, and regional capacity must be built for law and law enforcement in the prosecution of human trafficking. Her organization was committed to support the international community in framing a post-2015 development agenda that embraced the rule of law, human rights and justice to achieve fair, inclusive and sustainable development for all.
ENAS EL FERGANY, Director of Expatriates and Migration of the League of Arab States, said 15 States had attended a regional consultative meeting on migration and development at the League of Arab States’ headquarters in Egypt. As a result of that meeting, a declaration that focused on the need to protect human rights and improve the conditions of migrant workers was agreed upon. The declaration emphasized the role of the migrant community in development planning and practice. Support for international mobility had been included and discussions had taken place on how to include migration in the post-2015 agenda. The participants stressed the necessity to focus on specific regional needs, as well as the desire to include Arabic as an official language in the Global Forum. Also affirmed was the urgent need to link migration and development in order to push forward development goals and address regional challenges.
PETER WIDERMANN, Director-General of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development, said over the past seven years, the issue of migration had travelled from the security to the development agenda. It was now time to revisit some of the fundamentals of migration governance, which included integration, facilitating the mobility of people and managing borders to ease the movement of people and goods. All stakeholders should be involved in dialogue, including diasporas, civil society organizations, trade unions, employer association and the private and education sectors. His organization would continue to pay special attention to, including development, in its migration dialogues and to put its expertise at the service of the global community to work in what it believes in: that migration is about people.
PETER SCHATZER, of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, said parliamentarians had an effective role to play since migration rested on national shoulders. Over the years, economic and forced migration had been challenges and now, with the situation in Syria and other areas, many people were being forced to migrate due to conflict. At a time when Europe’s population growth was shrinking, migration movements were increasing. It was, therefore, important at the legislative level to ensure the movements matched the needs of sending and receiving countries. Among ongoing projects, a survey of migration was taking place in Greece and, on the issue of “brain drain”, a new project in France had begun.
ANA PAOLA RIVEROS MORENO DE TAGLE, of the Organization of American States (OAS), said the intangible and economic contributions of migrants were invaluable. In 2012, a major forum, taking an integrated approach, looked at migration. Promoting dialogue and cooperation and exchanges of practices and identifying steps to enhance the contributions of migrants were among the issues focused on. Highlighting the development of a report by her organization on those and other related measures, she underscored that it was vital to take a balanced approach to migration and to consider the human rights. The respect for human rights was an effective pillar for development in order to benefit from the positive aspects of immigration, she concluded.
AJAY MADIWALE, Adviser, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that States should ensure that national procedures, especially those that might result in deportation or interdiction of persons, included adequate safeguards at borders to protect the dignity and safety of all migrants, as well as their access to international protection and relevant services. States should also ensure the ability of all migrants, at all stages of their journey and irrespective of legal status, to access basic services, including health care, shelter, food, clothing, education and family reunification. He then highlighted examples of cooperation between Governments and Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies in improving reception standards, monitoring conditions of asylum-seekers, delivering services to vulnerable migrants, assisting unaccompanied minors, improving public perception of migrants and their social inclusion, combating human trafficking, improving knowledge of the migration process and restoring family links.
AMBET YUSON, General Secretary of Building and Woodworkers’ International and Chair of Global Union Council, recalling several tragic events in Italy, Qatar and Bahrain that had led to the deaths of many migrants, said that those were just a snippet of the deaths suffered by migrant workers worldwide as they left homes and families in search of decent work, freedom from exploitation and a better future. Stressing the need for a rights-based approach to existing international normative framework governing migration, he called on Governments to ratify all the United Nations and International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions related to migration. “In the discussion of labour mobility, we should focus on unscrupulous recruiters, outsourcing agencies and human traffickers who exploit the desires of migrants and only views them as commodities instead of human beings,” he said, urging Governments to strengthen regulations and prioritize the Decent Work agenda.
ISABEL DE SOLA, from the World Economic Forum, pointed out that missing from the dialogue was the private sector, an important player in migration. However, without the involvement of the private sector, real success could not be achieved and she called for opening the door to companies and employers so that they could actively participate in the discussion and cooperate with Governments, academia, civil society and other players in taking actions. That was not an easy task, she said, adding that compromise and trust among the stakeholders were needed.
PETER SUTHERLAND, Special Representative, International Migration and Development, recalled that when the first High-level Dialogue was held in 2006, participants had very polarized views on international migration and development. Significant progress had been made since then, he said, adding that the convergence of views demonstrated in the adopted Declaration testified to the fact that Member States had taken a new approach to the issue.
While commending the efforts made by Member States and civil society in forging ahead, he cautioned that there were still big challenges to be addressed, such as how to provide support for migrants in crisis and to determine the roles and obligations of host and origin countries, bordering countries and employers. “Something must be done,” he said, adding that migration issue must be incorporated into the post-2015 global development agenda.
The representative of Qatar said in the past few days a newspaper had published false reports, stating workers had been killed or had died. Ever since his State applied to host the World Cup, some felt it would be difficult for the event to take place in the Middle East. A racist bias had become a political position. Accidents at the work place happened occasionally, he said, noting that 1.7 million of Qatar’s population came from other countries. He said he was puzzled by the Building and Woodworkers’ International’s representative and rejected the allegations. Worker safety was a primary concern for Qatar and his country had hired an international firm to examine the issue.
The Chairs of the four round tables held concurrently to the two-day Dialogue summarized their discussions for delegates.
Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson began his closing remarks by asking all participants to rise for a moment of silence for the victims of the Lampedusa boat crash. He then told delegates he was impressed by the constructive engagement of all partners and was encouraged by the many areas of common interest and actions.
“Our milestone joint declaration on the significance of migration for development and on the protection of the rights of all migrants points to the remarkable strides we have made,” he said. “We must look to the future and the remaining challenges.”
Outlining five concrete follow-up measures, he underscored that making a strong case for migration as a vehicle for development was essential. The daily lives and working conditions of migrants needed attention, including reducing remittance transfer costs and validating training and university degrees. Migrant trapped in crisis areas and strengthening the data and evidence base were also important. An over-arching strategy was needed to achieve objectives. The challenge was to establish a map for the road ahead.
Concluding, he stressed that: “It is within our power to make migration a positive force for development, as well as for peace and security and human rights. We have the skills and tools. Based on this High-level Dialogue and commitments made here, I am confident we also have the political will.”
MAMADI TOURÉ ( Guinea), General Assembly Vice-President, delivering a statement on behalf of General Assembly President John Ashe, thanked all participants and said the gathering demonstrated that international migration and development could be constructively discussed within the United Nations.
After summarizing the discussions at the plenary and round-table discussions, he said: “It is, therefore, now, time to transform the key messages emerging out of this Dialogue into an action-oriented agenda with concrete follow-up. I firmly believe we are setting the stage to realize these shared aspirations.”
Round Table III
Patrick Abba Moro, Minister for Interior of Nigeria, and Simonetta Sommaruga, Head of the Department of Justice and Police of Switzerland, co-chaired this morning’s round table discussion titled “Strengthening partnerships and cooperation on international migration, mechanisms to effectively integrate migration into development policies and promoting coherence at all levels”. It featured the following panellists: Dailis Alfonsas Barakauskas, Minister for the Interior, Lithuania; Freddy Montero, Deputy Minister for Interior, Costa Rica; William Lacy Swing, Director General, International Organization for Migration; William Gois, Regional Coordinator, Migrant Forum in Asia; and Wu Hongbo, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.
Mr. MORO noted that since the first High-level Dialogue in 2006, more Governments had pursued coordinated action at various levels. Bilateral agreements could ensure “win-win” situations for both origin and destination countries, as demonstrated by Nigeria’s partnership agreement with Switzerland, which created mutual benefits including the reintegration of migrants, the establishment of vocational training programmes, the provision of employment opportunities and the transfer of knowledge and skills.
Ms. SOMMARUGA emphasized key elements of enhancing coherence, saying that a coordinated national approach was a central precondition for a better understanding of migration and for developing better policies. In 2011, the Government of Switzerland had adopted a new policy on international migration and a new mechanism for cooperation between ministries. Coherence required an appreciation of the links between migration and other key political issues, development in particular, she said, adding that the Swiss development policy for the period 2013-2016 included migration as a priority global theme. Bilateral and multilateral partnerships were both important, she added, stressing the need to strengthen cooperation between States and all other stakeholders.
Following those statements, the round table broke into three sessions.
In the first session, the panellists were asked to identify the key barriers to effective cooperation, consultation, coordination and coherence, and to provide guidance on how to overcome them.
Mr. BARAKAUSKAS highlighted three major challenges to better coordination on migration policies: failure to disseminate information on best practices; the need for a more efficient internal structure of existing networks; and the need to increase coordination, avoiding overlaps and inefficient use of resources.
Mr. MONTERO said national challenges included budgetary and structural weaknesses in dealing with migration, the difficulty of identifying a national authority to coordinate State actions on migration and the need to incorporate the private sector and civil society into the formulation of migration policies. At the international level, he added, there was no mechanism to ensure the implementation and monitoring of migration policies, migration databases lacked coherence, and there was a lack of cooperation on migratory issues in United Nations agencies.
Mr. SWING said major challenges included the one-dimensional view of migration and the anti-migration sentiment manipulated by politicians. They could be addressed by first integrating migration into development planning while bearing its cross-cutting nature in mind, and second by changing public perceptions of migrants so as to see migration “as a process to be managed and not as a problem to be solved”.
Mr. GOIS said civil society representatives had come together to prepare an eight-point programme aimed at fostering partnerships with Governments on the issue of migration. While welcoming the shift in the importance of migration since the first High-level Dialogue, he pointed out that the statements read during this year’s event must be translated into concrete national programmes.
The second segment session explored how “whole-of-Government” approaches, Government partnerships and multi-stakeholder initiatives could be strengthened to improve synergies, cooperation and coherence. It also considered how migration could be effectively mainstreamed into development and other policy sectors at the national and international level to achieve greater coherence.
Mr. MONTERO said Costa Rica had formed an innovative partnership with Nicaragua to address the issue of South-South migration by employing the “co-development” approach. It focused on the need to recognize the links between migration and development, the potential of migration to benefit both source and destination countries, and the need to agree on common operational objectives. In that way, the two countries could reduce the negatives of migration and increase the positives, he said. At the national level, Costa Rica had launched several initiatives, including migration in its national development plan, creating a holistic policy that provided guidance to ministries, and establishing a monitoring mechanism for the reintegration of migrants into society through the National Integration Observatory.
Mr. BARAKAUSKAS said “migration should not become a hostage of the economy” or be seen as cheap labour from abroad. In today’s globalized world, mobility could be an important feature of growth and development. About 1.3 million people of Lithuanian origin lived abroad, and to connect them to their home country, the Government had developed a strategy to tap their skills through, among other measures, the formation of a forum for business leaders and the provision of internships for youth studying in Lithuanian schools abroad.
Mr. SWING underscored the importance of full national ownership, transparent policy and the inclusion of all stakeholders. IOM had been supporting 15 regional consultations and served as their secretariat. It had published a handbook, Mainstreaming Migration into Development Planning, which had been endorsed by the Global Migration Group — the result of a collaborative and fruitful cooperation between 16 of the latter’s agencies. At the global level, migration should be given its rightful place in the post-2015 development agenda, because there was no mention of it in the Millennium Development Goals, he emphasized. It was vital to manage new global risks, such as economic shocks and climate change, and to address financing for development in an adverse climate for funding.
Mr. GOIS stressed that “all migrants are entitled to all human rights”, including essential health-care services and justice, also underlining the importance of a rights-based approach to migration issues and the need to bring social dialogue to the forefront. The International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on Domestic Workers was a successful example of multilateralism, he said, urging Member States also to ratify the Migrant Workers Convention.
When the floor was opened for comments and questions, the High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations said “the fear of the other has become more acute since the onset of the world financial and economic crisis, making migrants targets of xenophobia and violence”. He underlined the importance of public discourse on migration, saying that positive political and cultural discussions on the subject could shape perceptions of it.
A representative of Nepal spoke about the importance of remittances, noting that more than 25 per cent of her country’s GDP had been provided by remittances which sustained economic growth. She called for a human rights-based approach to migration, so as to minimize abuse and exploitation.
A representative of South Africa said he agreed with the “whole-of-Government” approach because inter-ministerial cooperation was needed to ensure coherent migration policies, as exemplified in the Southern African Development Community. Partnerships and framework agreements with private employers were also necessary to ensure adherence to migration laws.
The delegates of Philippines and Bangladesh both called for universal ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
A representative of Congo agreed on the need for international, regional and subregional cooperation, noting that negotiations were under way within the Economic Community of Central African States to establish a subregional passport. Partnerships were especially sought with countries in which the Congolese diaspora lived, he said, stressing the need to create a “diaspora map”.
A senior official of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean noted that traditional migration patterns had changed from South-North to North-South and South-South, especially because of the financial, fuel and food crises of the past years.
The third segment explored how successful bilateral and regional partnerships and cooperation experiences on migration and development could be translated to the multilateral level.
Mr. BARAKAUSKAS described how the European Union mobility initiative had created synergies, including the creation of an information portal that Lithuania also enjoyed as a partner. Stressing the importance of regional consultations, he said that under the Lithuanian Presidency, the European Union would host the first Eastern Partnership Justice and Home Affairs ministerial meeting on 7 and 8 October in Luxembourg. Representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine would join European Union Ministers in discussing further reforms and cooperation on justice, interior and migration issues.
Mr. MONTERO said there were good practices on migration issues that could be used in other countries. A number of recommendations had been made, but the shortage of resources remained a most difficult challenge. He proposed the creation of a fund for migratory initiatives that could be administered by IOM. There was already a small, IOM-administered fund designed to assist the return of migrants, but more funding would enable their reintegration into society, he said, adding that, besides creating the fund, clear common objectives must be defined.
Mr. WU highlighted the progress made since the first High-level Dialogue in 2006, but it was difficult to coordinate various processes that could be overlapping and repetitive. In order to harness the full benefits of migration, it was vital to focus on achieving results, he said, stressing the need for better data collection and research for evidence-based policymaking and mutual recognition of diplomas and skills.
Mr. GOIS reiterated that children, refugees and women were better off thanks to multilateral conventions that protected their rights. “What about migrants?”, he asked, before noting that they would be better off if more countries ratified the Migrant Workers Convention.
In the ensuing dialogue, the representative of Colombia said migration was a sine qua non condition for discussions on development. There was a need for explicit recognition by destination countries of the benefits brought by migrants, he said, urging them to avoid mass deportations. Instead, they should legalize migrants who had lived in the country for a long time.
The representative of Italy said that his country, due to its central location on the Mediterranean Sea, had sought diverse regional and international cooperation initiatives to address the issue of migration with, inter alia, member States of the European Union, as well as other countries on the Mediterranean.
The representative of Germany said that to reduce the risks associated with migration, regional cooperation initiatives were beneficial, as shown by the successful introduction of the Schengen area initiative for European Union member States.
The representative of the African Union Commission said the continent had benefited from $60 billion in remittances, but $4 billion had been spent on remittance costs, underlining the need to leverage them in order to ensure Africa’s economic growth.
A representative of the United States called for better coordination among United Nations agencies, proposing that IOM become a permanent Co-Chair of the Global Migration Group.
The delegate of Sweden supported the proposal of the United States, saying that IOM was the only organization with a mandate on migration. It should also serve as the secretariat of the Global Migration Group. She also called for clear recognition of the Global Forum on Migration and Development as a major deliberative platform.
Representatives of Turkey, Slovakia, Ecuador, Mexico, and France also participated, as did a senior official from the United Nations Children’s Fund. Other participants included representatives of the Centro de Derechos Humanos, Universidad Nacional de Lanus, Argentina and Migrant Rights International.
Round Table IV
The round-table discussion on “International and regional labour mobility and its impact on development”, was divided into two parts.
Chairing the first segment was Konstantin O. Romodanovskiy, Head of the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation. It featured keynote presentations by Abdelouahad Souhail, Minister for Employment and Vocational Training of Morocco, and Tobias Billström, Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy of Sweden.
Mr. ROMODANOVSKIY said migration was bred by inequality between countries. In rich and stable societies, there was great demand for highly specialized and qualified workers who often came from unstable and poor regions. He described his country as the world’s number two destination for migrants, saying that the Government had taken measures to legalize 3 million of them. Warning against an “iron curtain” of limitations, he said labour migrants not only contributed to the economies of destination countries, they also stimulated consumer demand in their home countries through remittances.
The Russian Federation had one of the world’s cheapest money-transfer systems at just 2 per cent, he said, pointing out that migrants there had sent home more than €15 billion. Still, migrants experienced discrimination based on ethnic, racial, cultural and religious differences, which led to unemployment in some cases, he said. Although nationalism was gaining in strength, as reflected in parliaments around the world, migration was a two-way street, he said, emphasizing that migrants were responsible for respecting and recognizing their host country’s culture and customs, as well as making an effort to study the local language.
Mr. SOUHAIL said occupational mobility was an integral part of the globalization process, but would only yield results if everybody reaped the benefits, including migrants. That required coherent global policies on migration, as well as joint responsibility by origin and destination countries. Morocco had organized framework agreements establishing terms of employment, among other things, for migrants in several European countries, and later, South-South agreements had created more open arrangements that allowed migrants to settle in host countries.
Morocco had also entered into bilateral agreements on social protections which, among other things, ensured the mobility of protections, he said. It had a policy which encouraged Moroccans living abroad to invest in their home country, and their remittances accounted for 70 per cent of GDP and contributed to the local economy. Having long been an origin country, Morocco had become a destination country, he said. It had a long tradition of immigration and had adopted a radically new principle on non-discrimination, the right of asylum and others, such as permission for migrants to vote in local elections.
Mr. BILLSTRÖM spoke of opportunities for migration to benefit both origin and destination countries, saying that required portability of skills, matching labour demand to markets and a legal framework to facilitate migration. Sweden had adopted one of the most flexible frameworks, allowing migrants of all skill levels to enter the country under the same conditions. As populations in some parts of the world aged and life expectancy increased, the need for migrants would also increase, he pointed out, adding that if properly managed, migration would also contribute to local communities.
The skills and ideas that migrants brought added to development and to their remittances, which Sweden was facilitating through increased competition in the remittance market. Respect for the human rights of migrants was fundamental to reaping the benefits of migration. Enabling legal frameworks for migration must be of high quality, he said, describing his country’s demand-driven framework as a good start. “By making it possible for people to migrate, we will allow them to reach their full potential,” he said. Facilitating their contribution to both origin and destination countries truly contributed to development.
In the ensuing discussion, a senior representative of Mauritius said more than 200 million migrants were waiting for concrete results and did not need statistics and numbers, of which they were fully aware. “It is not about what we have done, it is not about what we have achieved,” he said. “If we had achieved something worthwhile, there would be no need for these high-level meetings. Whatever we had achieved is not working.” Migrants expected the international community to come up with concrete measures, he stressed, noting that only 10 countries had ratified the Domestic Workers Convention, of which a mere three had implemented it. Mauritius was the first in Africa not only to have ratified the instrument, but also to implement it, he said, encouraging developed countries to reconsider their aid to countries that did not promote or ensure fair labour practices.
A senior representative of Romania said migrants were needed because they filled labour gaps that nationals could not fill. Their contribution should be given more weight and importance when evaluating the presence of migrant communities. A well-balanced equilibrium of benefits must be shared by origin and destination countries, otherwise migrants would be treated as second-hand workers, which was unacceptable. He underlined the importance of affordable social security and access to education in order to improve the skills of those already integrated into labour markets.
A senior representative of Ecuador said little had been said about the conditions in which migrants worked or about the labour sectors in which they worked. Many migrants took jobs that local people did not want to do, he said. Migrant workers frequently faced long work days, low pay and labour insecurities. They often spent most of their earning on just surviving, he said, describing the situation as precarious labour for precarious consumption. “Migrants are not criminals, they are not terrorists, but international workers,” he stressed.
A senior representative of Eritrea said modern-day asymmetric distribution of wealth exacerbated migrants’ vulnerabilities. Strengthening the development of countries, particularly in Africa, would contribute to combating “brain drain”. Engaging the diaspora was important to changing the road “from brain drain to brain gain”, he added.
A senior representative of Kazakhstan said much depended on the ability of States to establish protection mechanisms for migrants. A representative of the European Commission said the European Union had launched a €26 million initiative aimed at strengthening migration capacity and promoting the protection of migrants across regional borders.
A representative of Kyrgyzstan also participated in the discussion.
Shahidul Haque, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh, chaired the round table’s second segment, which featured the following panellists: Guy Ryder, Director-General, ILO; Marina del Corral Téllez, Secretary-General for Immigration and Emigration, Spain; Ana Avendaño, Director of Immigration and Community Action; and Lant Pritchett, Professor, Harvard University.
Mr. HAQUE described migration as a transformative phenomenon both for the individual and society, but also an extremely difficult personal undertaking. Labour migrants played an extremely important role, he said, pointing out that half of all migrants were women. Migration was the oldest action against poverty, and mobility could help individuals not only to seek opportunities, but also to escape risky situations. Demography, geography, economy and technology were reshaping human mobility, as well as the flow of goods and services, he said. Fragmented labour markets were causing States huge challenges as they struggled with the realization that migration was a development phenomenon. Maintaining security and protecting the rights of migrants was a particular challenge, he said.
Mr. RYDER addressed the three interconnected pillars of labour mobility, saying it must first address real labour-market needs, which required better information. The second pillar constituted migrants’ rights, including labour rights, which were essential to the entire migration process. It was also necessary to ensure equality of treatment with citizens of host countries. Relevant ILO conventions were the key to stopping the exploitation of some of the most vulnerable of migrant workers. While migrant workers often helped to maintain social security systems in many destination countries, their rights in that regard were often ignored. The third pillar was enhancing social dialogue between employers, workers organizations and other stakeholders, he said.
Ms. TÉLLEZ said there was a clear connection between migration and employment, and a multilateral approach was needed to ensure migration governance through the exchange of good practices. While past bilateral agreements did not always include minimum standards for protecting migrants, they had been effective in many ways. As a global phenomenon, labour migration experienced regional differences, which must be kept in mind on both the multilateral and bilateral levels. Labour mobility had a profound impact on development, particularly through remittances, but migrants made far greater contributions, she said. Destination countries provided salary, knowledge and formal skills which benefitted host countries. To that end, voluntary return policies should enable returnees to fit into their home countries with their new skills.
Ms. AVENDAÑO said that the overwhelming majority of migrants move for economic reasons, yet workers were too often silenced under Government policies that used their labour but ignored their “personhood”. States could establish concrete principles to end abuses, she said. Civil society had held many hopes for the High-level Dialogue, yet the Declaration was silent on many points. Much of civil society felt that, despite years of effort, the moment had been squandered, she said, adding that she looked to ILO to play a leadership role. Its tripartite approach was the most effective. She praised the recent agreement negotiated by the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) with the United States Chamber of Commerce which would tie the issuance of labour visas to the labour market and create a registry of market needs. It recognized the rights of migrants, allowing them to migrate with their families, and giving them equality in many rights, including the right to collective bargaining.
Mr. PRITCHETT said two points had emerged from research on labour mobility. The first was that the gap between countries in gains on commodities had narrowed, as had the gap in capital gains. Both areas had been liberalized through international policies, and labour was the one area in which prices had not converged, he said, adding that restrictive policies impeded labour mobility, preventing convergence. Hard science had shown significantly greater gains in productivity when migrants worked in more productive areas than when they worked at home in less productive markets. Labour was the single economic area where the greatest gains could be achieved. The second point was that allowing people to move would produce larger developmental gains, he said.
When the floor was opened for comments, a senior official of the Philippines said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was working to ensure free movement of goods and services, as well as freer capital flows. Noting the labour market shortages in the health sector, manufacturing and construction, he stressed the need for countries to engage each other to fill gaps in certain labour markets.
Agreeing with her counterpart, a senior representative of Italy said women accounted for 88 per cent of her country’s domestic workers, most of whom were migrant workers. Although ILO addressed decent-work deficits for one of the most vulnerable groups of workers, more could be done through vocational and education training, she stressed.
A senior official of the Republic of Moldova emphasized the need to ensure that migrant workers did not become hostages to labour markets. Migration must be included in the post-2015 development agenda, she said.
A senior representative of Canada said countries enjoying a positive experience with labour migrants had put mechanisms in place to foster access to global talent. Canada had used its permanent migration programme as a long-term tool for building human capital, including through full integration by granting citizenship. Labour mobility must address real labour-market needs, she said, adding that limited social security benefits and portable pensions were available to permanent labour migrants through bilateral agreements. Pension portability was an integral part of human rights protection, she said, adding that it enhanced well-being and increased self-reliance.
The Chief Executive Officer of FSI Worldwide said his company practised genuinely ethical recruitment. The firm recruited workers on merit, “the right candidate for the right employer”. It also ensured that terms and conditions met acceptable international standards. Money earned must go into the pockets of those who did the work rather than to shady recruitment companies, he stressed. Highlighting the challenges his company faced, he stressed the need to “level the playing field” in order for ethical firms to operate.
A representative of the United Arab Emirates underlined the importance of policies that focused on human development, particularly those benefiting families. The accumulation of human capital and skills, as well as the empowerment of women and their increased participation in quality labour markets were important in that regard. Remittances were responsible for increased access to education, she added, pointing out that her country was working with the Philippines to develop the skills of migrant workers.
A senior official of France also participated, as did the Director-General of IOM.
* *** *