Mr. Thomas Gass Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs

Fourteenth Coordination Meeting on International Migration

Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen.

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the fourteenth annual coordination meeting on international migration, organized by Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Let me extend a special welcome to those who have travelled from far and those who are attending for the first time.

Last month, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs issued its latest global migration estimates. According to the 2015 Revision of the estimates of the international migrant stock, the global number of international migrants, persons living in a country other than where they were born, reached 244 million in 2015, an increase of 71 million, or 41 per cent, compared to 2000. Since fertility is low in many parts of the world, the contribution of international migration to population change in receiving countries is bound to remain important.

In the face of continuing high levels of migration, the international community must address a range of issues, including facilitating labour mobility and reducing forced migration, while protecting the rights of migrants and those of non-migrants.

Dear colleagues,

On a daily basis, we witness images of desperate migrants and refugees escaping harsh conditions at home, and seeking protection abroad. We witness large-scale, unplanned movements of refugees mixed with migrants, chaotic departures, tragic loss of life, mistreatment at the hands of smugglers and traffickers, and xenophobia and discrimination in destination countries.

In short, we witness the effects of unsafe, disorderly and irregular migration, which result from an absence of well-managed migration policies.

This brings me to the Sustainable Development Goals.

With the integration of migration and migrants in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2016 is an important turning point. This constitutes terrific progress, and we should all be proud of having helped to make it happen. We not only have a target that promotes orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration. We also have targets to improve the working conditions of migrant workers; harness the benefits of migration for development; combat irregular migration; and reduce the costs of migration.

But – just as important as the need for well-managed migration policies – is the need to address the root causes of involuntary migration. Economic deprivation, social inequality, human rights abuses, lack of opportunity for decent work, and absence of security are all factors that drive people from their homes. The 2030 Agenda expresses a commitment to leave no one behind and to address comprehensively these root causes of displacement. This means that our attention should extend well beyond the migration-related targets.

This year, the mass movement of refugees and migrants, and the inadequacies of our individual and collective responses, have triggered action by the international community. The pledging conference for Syria earlier this month, the conference on legal pathways for Syrian refugees next month, and the World Humanitarian Summit in May, will pave the way for the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on 19 September to address large movements of refugees and migrants.

As most of you will recall, in 2013, Member States, international organizations and civil society came together to make the second High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development a success, by adopting a consensus declaration. Let us be inspired by that example as we prepare for the upcoming event in September.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For many years, this coordination meeting has served as a useful space for fostering cooperation and dialogue on international migration. The attendance here this morning confirms its continued usefulness. As we work to build the architecture for the thematic reviews of the Sustainable Development Goals in the high-level political forum, I hope that this meeting will contribute to the spirit of cooperation and dialogue for the upcoming HLPF in July.

Dear Colleagues,

Let me quickly outline the programme for this meeting.

This morning, the first panel will focus on discussing expectations and priorities for the United Nations agenda on migration in 2016.

The second panel, which will start at 11:30, will explore the follow-up and review of migration in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This afternoon we will hear two substantive presentations on how migrants and refugees can contribute to development.

Starting at 4 pm, this will be followed by interactive panels on the human rights of migrants and on improving public perceptions of migrants.

Tomorrow morning, we will start with a panel on indicators to monitor the implementation of the migration-related sustainable development goals and targets.

At 11:30 a.m. on Friday morning, we will have the honour of welcoming the Deputy Secretary-General, who will review the Secretary-General’s roadmap for responding to large movements of refugees and migrants.

His presentation will be followed by a session dedicated to the preparation of the report of the Secretary-General for the high-level plenary event of the General Assembly on 19 September.

Tomorrow afternoon, there will be two work sessions. First, we will hear from the GFMD, the GMG and civil society about their work programmes. Following that, you will all be invited to present your new initiatives during our traditional “tour-de-table”, which will start around 4 pm.

Dear colleagues,

Your contributions and deliberations during these two days will not only inform the thematic review of the SDGs and contribute to the General Assembly high-level event on 19 September. These discussions will also be extremely valuable in preparing the report of the Secretary-General on international migration and development for the 71st session of the General Assembly.

Finally, let me make a few organizational remarks.

Please note that this meeting is being webcast.

I would also like to invite you to a reception this evening hosted by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The reception will take place at the premises of the Population Division, on the 19th floor of the DC2 building. That building is located across the street from the UN Headquarters, on 44th street between First and Second Avenues, on the right-hand side just after the Millennium Hotel. The reception will begin at 6:15 this evening and continue until 7:30 pm.

In closing, let me welcome you all once again. We look forward to your stimulating presentations and informative contributions and, above all, to the constructive debates.

Let me now, in my capacity of moderator, introduce the first panel.

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