Second Informal Interactive Multi-stakeholder Hearing

– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at the Second Informal Interactive Multi-stakeholder Hearing of the preparatory process of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration



Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome to this important event today. I first want to acknowledge the presence of the Special Representative for International Migration, Her Excellency, Ms. Louise Arbour.

Ms. Arbour, I hope you know that my team and I are here to support you in any way we can throughout the coming year.

I also want to acknowledge the International Organization for Migration. It has played a key role – not just in enabling today’s meeting to happen, but throughout this whole process.

So, what do we already know today? We all know that we have been mandated to adopt a Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration. We all know that today is the second multi-stakeholder meeting leading to this. And we all know that tough tasks lie ahead. My statement today is therefore unlikely to contain any information that you don’t already know.

I will, however, put forward three perspectives, which I hope can frame your discussions.


First, I want to highlight the strength in diversity.

Our negotiations would be a lot easier if we included only those with the same views. We could probably agree on a Global Compact in a few days. The result, however, would be meaningless. We would be left with some nice words on paper, but without a Compact that is actionable. And, more importantly, we would see no change on the ground – for communities, states or migrants themselves.

For this process to succeed, it must embrace diversity. We need participation from governments, businesses, academic institutions, regional organizations and civil society. This will give us new ideas and perspectives. It will also allow us to share best practices, and identify those which haven’t worked.

We will disagree at times. This is inevitable. But disagreement gives us the opportunity to break down myths and false perceptions. And it is from disagreement that we can find strong, practical and tangible outcomes. Today’s meeting is therefore a good opportunity to encourage and embrace diversity.

Second, I want to place a focus on people. Although this is an overarching theme of my Presidency, it is particularly important for our discussions today.

I’ve heard the phrase ‘migrants are people too’. Frankly, I don’t like it. Migrants are people first. They might have a whole list of other titles such as: mother, son, fiancé, professor, or entrepreneur.

If a person leaves their home, they may take on a new title. But their fundamental rights, their hopes, and their concerns remain the same. The mother from Mali, who is trapped in Libya. The university student from India, who is studying in England. And many of you, here today, who left your homes to work for the United Nations or other organizations, so you could make a difference. We all hope for better for ourselves, our children and our futures.

Similarly, the title of migrant does not remove individual circumstances and needs. Women make up over half of international migrants, while the number of migrant children is increasing. We need to consider them – and others, with specific needs and strengths – in this process.

I’ve heard the phrase ‘migrants are people too’. Frankly, I don’t like it. Migrants are people first. They might have a whole list of other titles such as: mother, son, fiancé, professor, or entrepreneur.


President of the UN General Assembly

Finally, I want to add my voice to the call for action.

2017 was a year of commitments. We reaffirmed our obligations to refugees and migrants. We agreed to do more to uphold our responsibilities.

2018 must be a year of action. We need to step up our work to create the conditions for people to move out of choice, and not necessity.

This interactive hearing will allow us to explore a number of important themes. Through our panel discussions, we will focus on issues such as:

  • trafficking in persons,
  • modern slavery,
  • labor mobility,
  • and regional perspectives.

This exercise will deepen our understanding of the complexities of migration.

More importantly, however, it will contribute to the kind of action we need. It will be one more step towards our final goal of a comprehensive Global Compact.


Excellencies, Dear Participants,

I spoke earlier about the strength in diversity. We have a wealth of diverse experience and expertise in this room today. I am confident that it will shape and strengthen our discussions.

I want to also point out that, in our diversity, lies a commonality. None of us wants business as usual. None of us wants people to suffer. None of us wants chaos. None of us favors our current model over safe, orderly and regular migration.

This means that we all agree that we need to do things differently. If we fail to agree in the process ahead, I urge you to recall this important commonality. It can act as a reminder that our positions are not that different, after all.

Before I conclude, I want to tell you that I looked up the word “interactive” for today’s event. I liked one of the definitions in particular. It explained “interactive” as “two people or things influencing, or having an effect, on each other”. That is the definition we need to bear in mind, during our Second Interactive Hearing today.

I thank you very much for your attention.