United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants

Mr. Chair,Excellencies,Ladies and gentlemen,

Today’s Summit, focusing on large movements of refugees and migrants, is an historic event.  It signals that world leaders want to find solutions for the challenges posed by mass movements of people across international borders.

The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants contains important commitments by the international community.  It also charts a way forward between now and 2018.

Allow me to congratulate all of you for reaching this consensus in such a short time frame.

According to estimates prepared by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, , the total number of international migrants increased from 173 million in 2000 to 244 million in 2015.  In our increasingly global world, the number of people living in a country other than where they were born is likely to continue increasing.

Having considered the time constraints, I would like to underscore four main points.

First, we should not confuse forced displacement and voluntary migration.

While forced migration is undeniably a problem, voluntary migration, with well-managed migration policies, offers many benefits, not only to migrants and their families, but also to their countries of origin and destination.  While forced migration should be prevented or resolved, voluntary migration should be facilitated through well-managed migration policies.

Second, whatever the reasons for their movement, migrants contribute significantly to development. They help to advance mutual understanding and contribute to cultural diversity in host countries. Migrants spur economic development both in their adopted lands and back home.

In 2015 alone, migrants sent $432 billion in remittances to developing countries.  This is more than triple the amount of money sent globally as official development assistance (ODA).  Remittances help families in countries of origin to attend school, pay for medical care, save for the future and launch new business initiatives.

Third, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is critical for addressing the challenges posed by large movements of refugees and migrants.

The 2030 Agenda recognizes that international migration is a multidimensional reality of major relevance for countries of origin, transit and destination.  It acknowledges the positive contributions made by migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Moreover, the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda will help to eliminate some of the root causes of mass migration, including poverty, instability, marginalization and exclusion, and the lack of development and economic opportunities.  In short, if we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we will create the social and economic conditions that are needed so that each individual decision to migrate will be a matter of choice, not necessity.

Fourth, by adopting the political declaration today, Member States have committed to launching a process of negotiations to elaborate a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, to be adopted at an intergovernmental conference in 2018.

The global compact will make an important contribution to the global governance of migration, dealing with all aspects of international migration, including humanitarian needs, development linkages, human rights protection, and the institutional framework.

As envisaged by Member States, DESA will form a partnership with the International Organization for Migration to service the negotiations for the global compact on migration, and we will work closely with all relevant stakeholders in preparing the conference in 2018.

In closing, let me reiterate DESA’s commitment to working together to address the challenges posed by large movements of people across international borders, while also recognizing and celebrating the opportunities and the benefits that come from safe, regular and orderly migration.

Thank you.
File date: 
Monday, September 19, 2016
Mr. Wu