17 January 2008


17 January 2008
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General, in remarks to conference on migration and development,

urges ‘ethic of cooperation’ around mutually beneficial issues

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks to the Conference on Migration and Development in New York today, 17 January:

I am grateful for the invitation to speak at this important Conference and join such an eminent group of speakers.  Let me thank the organizers -- in particular Joseph Chamie, who so ably and memorably led the UN Population Division for many years, and Brunson McKinley.

The Secretary-General and I are both deeply encouraged by the positive and dynamic international discussion about migration and development that has evolved in recent years.

Only a short time ago, the international community had great difficulty discussing matters related to migration.  Dividing lines were drawn between North and South, between what we called “sending” and “receiving” countries.  Accusations and recriminations trumped reasoned dialogue.

But in the past few years, this has given way to a space for dispassionate discussion of how migration can contribute to development.

The UN High-Level Dialogue in 2006 was a watershed moment.  At the time, I was serving as Foreign Minister of Tanzania, and I remember that the run-up to the event did not augur particularly well; there was a sense that the dialogue could devolve into a political catfight.

And yet, thanks in large part to the very determined leadership of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Peter Sutherland, the dialogue not only was extraordinarily well attended, it took place in a collegial and constructive environment.

The shape of a consensus became evident.  Migration, all agreed, has become a truly global phenomenon that requires deep cooperation to make it a safe, legal, and orderly process that protects the rights of all migrants.  It also became clear that it would be an act of profound irresponsibility to ignore the enormous interplay between migration and development.

From magnifying the impact of remittances to building a robust educational infrastructure in the developing world, the vast potential for international cooperation was fully evident at the Dialogue.

Perhaps even more surprising to many observers was that the Dialogue turned out to be the beginning of the international conversation on these issues, rather than the end.  Under the leadership of the Secretary-General, Member States decided to create a Global Forum on Migration and Development.

Last July, less than a year after the High-Level Dialogue, 155 countries gathered together in Brussels to launch the first Global Forum.  The Forum -- which was both hosted and ably coordinated by the Government of Belgium -- offered further proof that there is a hunger for cooperation on these issues.

Over the course of three days, nearly 1,000 delegates explored how to reduce the costs and increase the micro-impacts of remittances, how temporary and circular migration programmes could contribute to development, and how Governments can create greater coherence in their migration and development policymaking.

This coming October, the second Global Forum will convene in Manila, under the dynamic aegis of the Philippines, while Greece will host the third Forum.  The future of this important initiative seems assured.

As we continue to move forward the conversation on migration and development, let us remember why the High-Level Dialogue and the Global Forum proved successful -- especially at a time when migration remains an explosive and often divisive political issue in many of our countries.

It was because of the focus on positive areas for cooperation -- on the countless ways countries can work better together to ensure that migration offers maximum benefits to migrants, to the families and communities they leave behind, and to their new communities.

Let us build such an ethic of cooperation around issues of mutual benefit.  Then, as we build trust and achieve results, we can move on to address some of the more contentious issues we face.

Over the course of the two days of your remarkably ambitious agenda, you will help us maintain the momentum.  You will explore the many and richly varied aspects of migration and development, and I look forward to hearing your conclusions.  In that spirit, I wish you a most productive conference.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.