Deputy Secretary-General, at Closing of High-Level Dialogue, Stresses Need to Make Migration ‘a Choice, Not a Desperate Necessity’

4 October 2013

Deputy Secretary-General, at Closing of High-Level Dialogue, Stresses Need to Make Migration ‘a Choice, Not a Desperate Necessity’

4 October 2013
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General, at Closing of High-Level Dialogue, Stresses


Need to Make Migration ‘a Choice, Not a Desperate Necessity’


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the closing of the High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, in New York on 4 October:

Let me begin by adding my voice to the many others who have expressed shock and grief at the terrible loss of life in the sinking of a ship carrying migrants off the coast of Lampedusa.  The number of victims has been growing by the hour.  Let us all reflect deeply on the basic messages from this disaster while we honour the victims with a moment of silence.

It has been extremely interesting to follow your deliberations at the High-Level Dialogue over the past two days.  It has been a rich and penetrating review of migration, a topic so central and crucial to the national and international agenda in today’s globalized world.  Having presided over the preparations for the first High-Level Dialogue in 2006, and based on what I have heard at this Dialogue, I can assure you that we have come a long way.

I am especially encouraged that so many areas of common interest and common actions have been identified.  I am also impressed by the constructive engagement of all partners, including civil society, in our common mission.  We all share the objective of making migration a positive force in national and international affairs.  We have to work to ensure that the benefits of migration are realized and felt by all, migrants and recipient countries alike.

Our milestone joint Declaration on the significance of migration for development and on the protection of the rights of all migrants, points to the remarkable strides we have made.  We also share the goal of strengthening coherence and cooperation.  You should all feel proud that through your commitment to working together, within the United Nations, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Global Forum on Migration and Development, we have been able to make such important progress.

Now, we must look to the future and the remaining challenges.  Let us learn from the concrete experiences presented here of what works and produces results, and let us redouble our efforts.  We still have much to achieve.  Our formal and informal follow-up work is extremely important.

Let me briefly outline five concrete priorities.  First, we should build on the momentum of the High-Level Dialogue to generate greater support for integrating migration into the global development agenda.  In order to do this, we need to make the case that migration is a catalyst for development.  Reducing the economic and social costs of migration and protecting the human rights of migrants are two areas where we can make tangible difference right now.

Also, let us not forget the importance of supporting countries in promoting peace and security, as well as human rights and the rule of law.  We have to work on all three points to create stable and harmonious societies where migration is a choice, not a desperate necessity.  We should also think and act strategically about how migration can fit into the post-2015 development agenda, on its own and in combination with other drivers of development.

Second, we need to improve the daily lives and working conditions of migrants across the globe.  The costs for transfer of remittances must be reduced.  We need to facilitate international mobility and the portability of skills.  Training and university degrees should be quickly validated and recognized in recipient countries.

Great numbers of domestic workers, many of them migrant women, face exploitation and other precarious circumstances.  I urge all of you to ratify and implement the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on Domestic Workers and the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families.

Third, we need to address the situation of migrants trapped in crisis areas.  Recent events around the world showed yet again that emergencies can erupt without warning and are testing our systems to the limits.  Member States, international organizations, civil society and the private sector all have a role to play to deal with such situations.

Fourth, we need to strengthen the data and evidence base.  A Finnish President once said “The source of wisdom is knowing the facts.”  If we are to succeed in integrating migration into the post-2015 development agenda, we need data for all countries of the world on international migrants and their core social and economic characteristics.  This is crucial if we are to develop sound policies and monitor global goals and targets.

Fifth, we need to give thought to and develop an over-arching strategy for achieving our objectives.

Yesterday, the Secretary-General outlined his practical vision of where we should focus our efforts.  Many constructive proposals and creative ideas have been presented over the past two days.  Let us make sure that we, on different tracks, not least through the Global Forum on Migration and Development and the Global Migration Group, pursue these proposals in an action-oriented and pragmatic way.

Our challenge is to establish a plan, a road map on how to move ahead, together with a monitoring framework with clear follow-up mechanisms.

In closing, let me agree that it is within our power to make migration a positive force for development, as well as for peace and security and human rights.  We have the skills and tools.  Based on this High-Level Dialogue and commitments made here I am confident we also have the political will.

I wish to thank colleagues who have helped make this meeting a success.  I particularly wish to thank the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Peter Sutherland, and the Director General of IOM, William Lacy Swing, for their committed and continuing leadership and advocacy.

And I wish to thank all of you — Member States, international organizations, representatives of civil society, the private sector and the academic world — for your very valuable contributions.  We all have important work to do.

Millions of migrants worldwide are looking to us with hopes and expectations.  Let us do our utmost to turn the political will and forward-looking approaches demonstrated at this High-Level Dialogue into positive actions and results for them and for all of us.

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