1 December 2020

Global Compact on Migration Crucial for Recovery from COVID-19, Secretary-General Says at Launch of Report, Stressing Human Diversity ‘an Asset, Not a Threat’

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the launch of the report “From Promise to Action:  The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration”, today:

Two years ago, Member States came together in Marrakech and committed to a comprehensive framework for cooperating on international migration.  The report we are launching today describes how the Global Compact for Migration is taking root in promising ways.

The Compact reflects a growing global understanding of the great benefits of human mobility.  But it also recognizes that, if poorly managed, migration can generate huge challenges, from a tragic loss of life to rights abuses and social tensions.  COVID-19 has heightened those challenges and had negative effects on more than 2.7 million migrants, particularly on women and girls. 

At the same time, we have seen new practices emerging to protect migrants during today’s upheaval.  Several countries extended residence and work permits.  Others have regularized the status of undocumented migrants.  Some States have pursued alternatives to immigration detention.  And while some States have suspended returns owing to unsafe conditions, others have made efforts to ensure that those returning or who have been deported are supported.  These initiatives need to be expanded. 

However, much more can and should be done.  To this end, I am making several recommendations.  First and foremost, we must embrace the spirit of collaboration. No country can address migration alone.

Second, the pandemic has highlighted the value of migrant labour.  We have rightly recognized the bravery of frontline workers.  Many of those providing essential health and care services are migrant women.  They must no longer be invisible.

We must now turn that celebration into a recognition that is meaningful and not just ephemeral; ensuring fair and ethical recruitment; decent work; and access to health care and social protection, without discrimination.  It is also critical that we reduce the transfer costs of remittance and promote financial inclusion of migrants and their families.

Third, we must address discrimination and foster social inclusion and cohesion between host communities and migrants.  Migrants should not be stigmatized or denied access to medical treatment and other public services.  We must strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.  As Member States and partners step up their efforts, so too will the United Nations system.

Under the leadership of IOM [International Organization for Migration] the United Nations network on migration has brought the United Nations system together like never before.  Over the coming years, the network will strengthen its offer to Member States and all those who wish to make a difference to the lives of millions, particularly at country level.

Human diversity is an asset, not a threat.  We must appreciate the richness of our differences while never losing sight of our common humanity and dignity.  We can draw on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration to recover better from COVID-19, with greater inclusion and sustainability.  And if we are united, we can make migration work for all.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.