Migration Emerges as the Centerpiece of the 70th United Nations General Assembly


New York - Migration has emerged as the centerpiece of the 70th United Nations General Assembly with numerous world leaders, among them the Pope, Barack Obama and Ban Ki-moon, making direct reference to the need for concerted global leadership. Against that background, the UN Secretary General today convened the first high level meeting on migration.

With half a million migrants already crossed into to Europe in 2015 and with 3,000 deaths so far this year, IOM's William Lacy Swing described the high level meeting as "welcome and urgent".

The overarching aim of this meeting is to elevate the issue of migration and refugees to a high level with Member States as part of the General Assembly. The meeting aims to discuss the issues behind the current migration emergencies as well as highlighting the complexities and development aspects that underpin people's desire to migrate.

A further aim of the session is to encourage enhanced cooperation and collective action in dealing with the problems and challenges of migration and human mobility, including mixed movements - those involving migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees. Facilitating safe, orderly and responsible mobility is also a key component of the post 2015 development agenda, which requires coordinated action not only among States, but also at all levels of Government, and with a series of non-governmental stakeholders, to ensure no one is left behind.  

“With an unprecedented number of simultaneous and complex humanitarian emergencies increasingly driving migration globally, current migrant realities must be met by adequate and humane migration policies,” Ambassador Swing said this week in New York, where he is attending the UN’s General Assembly. “Responses that focus solely on immediate humanitarian and security needs, without a long term vision to guide policy and practice and to respond to community apprehensions, will leave us trapped in crisis-mode interventions,” Ambassador Swing added. 

Moreover, Ambassador Swing warned that growing anti-migration sentiment worldwide is unnecessarily endangering the lives of migrants globally, while ignoring the overall benefits that migration has historically provided to mankind.

With Heads of State and other senior officials gathered for the historic session, Ambassador Swing called on them to ensure that migration is governed in a responsible and humane fashion.   

“One in seven people on the planet is a migrant – one billion in total – and billions more are impacted by migration daily,” he said. “But migrants cannot remain just a number to be counted. Governments must ensure that migrants’ rights are truly protected once and for all. This General Assembly, in its historic 70th year, presents world leaders with the opportunity to acknowledge that migration is inevitable, necessary and desirable.”

The High Level Side Event will also provide an important opportunity for member States to bring together different policy areas related to migration and refugee flows, and discuss enhanced cooperation across these areas. This includes the implementation of migration and integration policies, and the creation of adequate channels for orderly, safe, and regular migration with full respect for human rights, as well as the humanitarian admission of refugees, whilst improving cooperation and effectiveness in law enforcement operations aimed at combatting transnational organized crime.

For further information, please contact Leonard Doyle at IOM NY, Tel. + 41 79 285 7123, Email: ldoyle@iom.int