New York

15 December 2016

UN Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at International Migrants Day and Global Migration Film Festival Event [as prepared for delivery]

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to be with you today.
 
This has been a turbulent year for refugees and migrants.
 
We have seen the continued devastating effect of armed conflict on civilian populations, leading to death, destruction and displacement. 
 
We have witnessed the unacceptable loss of thousands of lives of people in transit in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. 
 
And we have witnessed the rise of populist movements that seek to alienate and expel immigrants, and to blame refugees for various ills of society.
 
Yet, within this turbulence we also find rays of hope, with concerned citizens and communities opening their arms and hearts to new-comers. 
 
We have also seen a promising international response, culminating in the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants in September.
 
I am very impressed with the New York Declaration. 
 
The international community has affirmed our shared responsibility to assist refugees and asylum seekers.
 
It has acknowledged our collective commitment to uphold human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all migrants, irrespective of status. 
 
Member States also agreed on an ambitious roadmap to develop two global compacts -- one specifically on refugees and another calling, more broadly, for safe, orderly and regular migration.
 
We also welcomed the International Organization for Migration into the United Nations family. 
 
IOM’s work on migration, in support of both migrants and Member States, is vital. 
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
I am very glad to welcome this Global Migration Film Festival to New York.
 
It is essential that we all realize the impossible choices that so many migrants and refugees face. Stay home under dangerous and devastating conditions or leave for a journey full of uncertainty, dangers and humiliations.
 
This film festival is helping to bring greater awareness of migrants’ personal stories and to promote mutual understanding between migrants and host communities. 
 
Knowledge feeds empathy and underpins the compassion that we all need to make the world a better place.
 
I would also like to acknowledge today the global TOGETHER initiative launched on 19 September.
 
It aims to change negative perceptions about and attitudes towards refugees and migrants.
 
It also aims to strengthen the social contract between countries and communities and the refugees and migrants they are hosting.
 
The TOGETHER initiative has partnered with IOM to bring the Global Migration Film Festival to more than 73 countries.
 
Events like this can help to combat negative stereotyping of migrants, counter xenophobia and showcase the innate talents and skills of migrants and refugees.
 
That is also the goal of International Migrants Day, which we will observe next Sunday
 
December 18th is a day to celebrate the contributions of migrants and their families and recall our commitments.
 
And it is a reminder of that we all have a responsibility to advance the rights of all people. Nobody can do everything but everybody can do something.
 
That is also the message of this year’s Human Rights Day.
 
Let us all pledge to “Stand Up for Someone’s rights today”.
 
The more vulnerable you are, the more you need protection, the more you need someone to stand up for your rights.
 
That sentiment lies at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its pledge to “leave no one behind”.
 
Migrants and refugees are among the world’s most vulnerable people.
 
They need our compassion and our support.
 
That is why events like this film festival are so important. I hope these films will be seen worldwide and that they will prompt us all to do more for the rights, needs and aspirations of refugees and migrants around the world.
 
Thank you.