International Migration and Development

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Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

We have come to the end of two long, but stimulating days, during which we have discussed, for the first time in this High-level Dialogue, the multidimensional aspects of international migration and development.

We have heard from over 140 delegates about the opportunities and challenges that international migration poses for development in each of their countries. And we have had four round tables that have focused on the impact of international migration on economic and social development, the centrality of human rights to ensure the development benefits of migration, the importance of remittances, and the crucial role of international cooperation and partnerships to address the challenges posed by international migration.

Above all, these two days have proven that international migration and development can be debated constructively in the United Nations.

This High-level Dialogue has been the culmination of years of preparation. I want, first and foremost, to express my gratitude to the Secretary-General for his support in preparing and organizing this Dialogue.

I also want to thank Member States, the various United Nations agencies, other international organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society and the private sector for their contributions in making this dialogue a success.

On this occasion, I would also like to extend my sincerest appreciation to Mr. Peter Sutherland, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Migration, for his tireless efforts in promoting the messages and recommendations set out in the Report of the Secretary-General. We look forward to a continued collaboration as our efforts evolve.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge the key role of my predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Jan Eliasson, Foreign Minister of Sweden, in organizing the two panel discussions in New York and Geneva as well as the interactive hearings with non-governmental organization, civil society and the private sector.


The High-Level Dialogue has affirmed a number of key messages in the Report of the Secretary-General. First, that international migration is a growing phenomenon and is a key component of development in both developing and developed countries. Second, that international migration can be a positive force for development in countries of origin and countries of destination, provided it is supported by the right set of policies. Third, that it is important to strengthen international cooperation on international migration, bilaterally, regionally and globally.

This dialogue has emphasized that respect for human rights is the necessary foundation for the beneficial effects of migration on development to accrue. Many of you have noted that some vulnerable groups, such as migrant women and children, need special protection.

You also highlighted that migration is no substitute for development. Too often, migrants are forced to seek employment abroad due to poverty, conflict and the lack of human rights. There has been widespread support for incorporating international migration to the development agenda and for integrating migration issues into national development strategies, including possibly into poverty reduction strategies.

You have underscored the need to provide decent work and decent working conditions in countries of origin and countries of destination. This would alleviate the negative aspects of migration including the brain-drain.

Furthermore, you have noted that remittances are one of the most tangible benefits of international migration for development. They improve the lives of millions of migrant families, but also have a positive effect on the economy at large. Many of you called for a reduction in the costs of remittances transfers and for maximizing their development potential.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

We have now completed the High-level Dialogue, where do we go from here? During these two days, in your plenary statements and in your remarks in the round tables, nearly all of you have expressed the wish to continue an international dialogue in some form. Many of you have embraced the Secretary-General’s proposal of establishing a Global Forum on Migration and Development and the offer made by the Government of Belgium to host the first meeting of the Forum next year. I commend your commitment to advancing this constructive dialogue on this important issue.

In closing, let me once more thank all of you for your active participation in this High-level Dialogue and wish you all the best in your future deliberations on international migration and development. In the coming days I will make available a Chairperson’s Summary which will be widely distributed to all Member States, Observers, United Nations agencies and other appropriate organizations.

Thank you



Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome you all to this historical event. This High-level Dialogue not only confirms the clear linkage between migration and development and the various opportunities and challenges concerning this issue, but will serve as a platform to move forward; and essentially mobilize the political will and build effective partnerships to realize the potential migrants can have in developing both countries of origin and destination whilst safeguarding their rights.

Last month, I read a disturbing article about the ordeals that migrants experience on their journey. Most come in open wooden boats with no shelter except a plastic tarpaulin stretched over one part of the boat. The migrants are packed in, they have no room to stretch and lack all basic needs. You can all just imagine what they have suffered, from salt sources, infected wounds, and diseases; risking their lives for a new beginning. Yet thousands of migrants continue to take routes like these, despite the dangers knowingly or unknowingly determined to have a new beginning...


Migration is inherent to human nature. It has become a major aspect of modern societies in the face of globalizations. The revolutions in communication, transportation and rights of individuals to stay abroad have facilitated movement of peoples across borders, movement to seek better lives and overcome such hardships.

In 2005, 191 million individuals courageously sought just this and this number is likely to rise in the coming years.

If harnessed constructively, migration can have a profound effect on development. The financial and human capital of migrants, especially remittances, can reduce poverty substantially by increasing access to education and healthcare, thus filtering directly into the Millennium Development Goals.
On the other hand, migration of skilled peoples from developing countries to developed countries can severely impede development.

Naturally, this complex relationship raises numerous questions and only through an open, engaging, constructive debate can we eliminate misconceptions, understand each other's perspectives, identify our common concerns and examine new ideas and joint activities that strengthen migration policies and protect migrants' rights. This by default necessitates close cooperation between Member States, international institutions, NGOs, and the private sector.

Then and only then will we be able to address how to ensure that labor supply matches labor demand for today and the future and prevent smuggling from doing the matching for us...

Then and only then will we be able to address how to ensure a smooth internal transition for countries that have gradually shifted from being primarily sources of migrants to destinations for migrants...

Then and only then will we be able to address how to protect migrants' rights and ensure that migrant women's rights are not exploited...


This is the very first high-level event of the United Nations entirely devoted to this topic. There have been many events organized by the General Assembly over the course of the year in preparation for this high-level dialogue, including Panel Discussions on International Migration and Development in New York and Geneva last June and July respectively, Informal Interactive Hearings with NGOs, Civil Society and the Private Sector in New York last July and an International Symposium on the subject in
Turin also last June.

The four round table discussion this afternoon and tomorrow, will give Member States a unique opportunity to exchange views among themselves and with civil society, the private sector and international institutions on various topics related to Migration and Development.

In terms of Migration Management, Member States could work with interested parties to enhance the coherence in policy-making, foster dialogue between countries of origin and countries of destination.

In terms of International Migration Law and Human Rights, Member States can work with the interested parties to increase awareness and strengthen the existing international legal instruments that protect migrants, promote integration, fights gender discrimination, and provide capacity building to countries that need technical assistance.

In terms of migration development, Member States can work with interested parties to mainstream migration into the Millennium Development Goals, emphasize the important economic role that migrant communities and the development potential of remittances.

Further, in terms of Labor Migration, Member States can work with interested parties to develop a more effective global labor market, improve the security of remittance transfers, and analyze the role of circular migration.

We notice that the link between migration and development is not new, what is new, however, is the speed of global mobility. The reduction of barriers in goods, capital and services all across the globe directly affect the movement of people. This reality cannot be ignored; no development strategy, no trade strategy, no foreign policy strategy should move forward without integrating migration considerations.

The United Nations has a crucial role to play in realizing the potential of international migration to underpin economic growth and development. Through this dialogue, the United Nations will search for ways of building effective partnerships so that coordinated action can be taken to develop the capacities needed in the field of migration.

Certainly the two days will not be enough. It will be the beginning of our path to conduct more research, help improve policy program responses, dispel myths and misperceptions about international migration, provide long term perspectives on key issues and anticipate new trends. The Secretary-General's report on International Migration and Development provides us with a number of recommendations including the idea of creating a Global Forum on Migration and Development. These proposals as well as Member States' contributions will inspire us in our deliberations on this important matter.

Indeed, it is imperative that we continue our exchanges and arrive at a more constructive understanding of migration and its benefits.

Thank you.

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