Paris, France

01 December 2014

Secretary-General's message to the High Level Policy forum on Migration - Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1-2 December

Migration is one of the defining challenges of our age, making this OECD ministerial forum particularly relevant and timely.

I welcome the theme of Mobilizing Migrants’ Skills for Economic Success, which reflects the contributions migrants make to destination countries and calls attention to their untapped potential. Too often, migrants are not able to use skills they learned in their country of birth, and returning migrants cannot bring back home the skills they acquire abroad.

One step to remedying this is by promoting the mutual recognition of qualifications. But Governments must also have an honest and open conversation about the future needs of their labour markets and the role of migrants in filling gaps. At the same time, we must support developing countries in their efforts to prevent shortages of skilled workers, including doctors, nurses, teachers and scientists.

To achieve both these goals, we need planned and managed migration policies that give due regard to sustainable development. Such policies must ensure that migration is safe, regular and orderly and must ensure and protect the human rights of migrants. The almost daily loss of life in the Mediterranean and at other international borders is a stark reminder that we have a moral duty to act. We must devise holistic and comprehensive policies that open up possibilities for legal and regular migration. These policies will also ensure more sustainable approaches to combat human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants.

Finally, we must counter the negative stereotyping of migrants and discrimination against them that is widespread in many OECD countries. I welcome the provision of accurate, unbiased information by the OECD; this has a crucial role to play in informing public debate.

I thank you for taking on this important subject and I wish you success in your discussions.