MigrationNo. 3 Vol. L 2013
This issue, which features contributions from twelve leading experts from within and outside of the United Nations system, looks at international migration and development. The articles examine, among other things, lowering the costs and amplifying the benefits of migration; the protection of migrants’ rights and State sovereignty; labour migration and inclusive development; leveraging remittances for development; the reintegration of returning migrants; and strengthening migration cooperation.
As the world enters a stage of unprecedented globalization and economic interconnectedness, the world labour market has become increasingly competitive. In this era of international competition for talent, the Chinese diaspora is an immeasurably critical factor in helping to realize domestic development objectives, which in turn will alter the future world geopolitical balance.
Three notable facts about migration are often drowned in the stringent debate surrounding migration policies. First, the contribution of migrants to their host and home countries is enormous, over $500 billion in remittances alone (of which over $400 billion went to developing countries in 2012).
Over the past decades, business has begun reacting to growing societal pressures by broadening its focus from profit maximization alone to the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. In the years since this concept was first introduced, people and planet focused sustainability initiatives have become standard practice amongst businesses across the world.
There are over 100 million migrant workers living and working around the globe. Together with their families they represent most of the international migrants now estimated at 232 million people living outside their country of origin. Almost half are women, migrating increasingly for employment.
Contrary to popular opinion, international migration does not stem from a lack of economic development, but is part and parcel of the development process itself. The principal driver of migration is the globalization of the economy and the worldwide integration of factor markets.
There is an increasing need for governments and other development actors to plan for, and act upon, the opportunities and challenges that migration brings. Through the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development we should, therefore, call for improved policy coherence between migration and development through the integration of migration into the post-2015 development agenda, an improvement in multilateral coordination through the Global Migration Group (GMG) and a commitment to continued inter-governmental cooperation in the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).
Paradoxical as it seems, protecting migrants' rights may be the best way to enhance state sovereignty in a globalized world. The protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms should not depend on where one is in the world. However, it is the state's responsibility to uphold human rights through its laws and enforcement.
The evidence is clear: migration contributes more powerfully to development than any other means we know. When states and stakeholders gather in October 2013 at the second High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development, they need to build on this knowledge by committing to concrete actions. If more states work together and make better informed policy choices, they can generate large economic and social gains from migration, while ensuring decent living and working conditions for migrants.
One day, I was having a conversation in my kitchen with Carmen, who came to clean my house twice a month. I asked her: did she want to have more children? I thought she just had one young son. Carmen was normally chatty, happy. But when I asked her about having more children, she fell stone silent. Then, she started sobbing.
The globalization of the modern world has stimulated a steep rise in migration to locations both near and far, supported by many factors. The development of sophisticated modern transportation systems and networks making it much easier, cheaper and faster for people to move than at any time in history has been one such factor.
The idea of return migration, with the aim of assisting voluntary returnees to settle back in their home countries, can seem an attractive way forward for governments that seek to manage migration humanely. In recent years, nevertheless, as return migration has become a preferred strategy for governments and one of the very few options open to migrants, the problems emerging from this practice and the policies that support it have increasingly come into view.