Making migration work for all

The High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (HLD) was held on 3 and 4 October 2013, marking  the second time in history that the United Nations considered international migration and development in the General Assembly. With consideration of Secretary-General’s report for HLD an outcome Declaration has been adopted.

The overall theme of the 2013 HLD was identifying concrete measures to strengthen coherence and cooperation at all levels in order to enhance the benefits of migration and to address its challenges. The report of the Secretary-General for the HLD (A/68/190), prepared by DESA with inputs from the Global Migration Group (GMG) and the SRSG for Migration, identified an 8-point agenda for action, with concrete measures to protect the rights of migrants and to leverage the benefits of migration for development.

Echoing many of the points put forward in the SG’s report, Member States adopted a Declaration of the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development during the opening of the event (A/68/L.5). This joint declaration showed that since the first HLD, which had resulted in a Chair’s summary, trust between Member States had grown, allowing them to agree on some key principles and recommendations on international migration and development. In particular, the declaration recognizes the important contributions migrants make to countries of origin, transit and destination. It acknowledges the need to integrate both development and human rights dimensions into the migration debate and calls for safe, orderly and regular migration. The declaration also recognizes migration as a key factor for sustainable development and calls for integrating migration into the post-2015 development agenda. Other points in the declaration refer to practical initiatives to assist and support migrants stranded in vulnerable situations; to promote conditions for cheaper transfer of remittances, and to improve the collection of migration data.

HLD 2013The HLD was opened by the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General and the President of the Economic and Social Council. The opening also featured Sweden as the Chair of the State-led Global Forum on Migration and Development, Professor Ian Goldin as an eminent person in the field of international migration, a migrant, and the rapporteur of the informal hearings of civil society. The Deputy-Secretary-General and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for migration Peter Sutherland participated in the closing.

Parallel to the plenary meeting, four interactive roundtables, co-chaired by Member States, were organized featuring multi-stakeholder panels, including Member States, international organizations and civil society. The round tables focused on (a) migration and the post-2015 development agenda; (b) human rights of migrants, human trafficking and migrant smuggling; (c) partnerships and cooperation in migration, and (d) regional labour mobility.

More than 100 Member States, many at the ministerial and vice-ministerial level, about 350 civil society representatives as well as numerous permanent observers and international organizations participated in the event. The role of civil society in the 2013 HLD was significantly greater than it had been in 2006. Thus, several NGO and civil society representatives were allowed to speak in the plenary, while they also participated in roundtables either as panelists or as speakers from the floor.

In their presentations, many Member States covered national practices and recommended measures to address migration challenges and to leverage migration for development. There were calls to develop a framework for the mutual recognition of qualifications and diplomas; to regulate the recruitment industry; to reduce the costs of migration, especially recruitment and remittance transfer fees; to engage diaspora groups; to respect migrant labour rights; to develop circular migration programmes; to improve the evidence base; and to promote coherence, partnerships and collaboration at the national, bilateral, regional and global levels.

For more on the High-level Dialogue, including preparatory activities, the report of the Secretary-General, the outcome documents and other relevant documentation, recordings of the meeting sessions, as well as an inventory of the statements, see