High-Level Conversation on “Responding to Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants: Human Rights Protection, Labour Market Options and a Global Compact for Migration”

Date Publish: 
Wednesday, July 20, 2016 - 15:15
Ms. Laura Thompson, Deputy Director General, International Organization for Migration
UN HQ, New York

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,

Thank you for joining us today on this important topic as we prepare for the September Summit.

The upcoming Summit provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge that the only way to realise and leverage the development potential of migration and to reduce the incidence and impacts of large or coerced movements is to recognise that migration is a natural phenomenon.

In this regard, and as was articulated clearly in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, migration and human mobility that are safe, orderly and regular, are integral to inclusive growth and sustainable development.

My first point is that the objective of a Global Compact should not be to stop migration, but rather to recognise that migration is a reality that when is a matter of genuine choice and not as a desperate necessity and is well managed it generates ample benefits for all the migrants and the societies and countries involved. 

Nonetheless, for this to occur it must be managed cooperatively and comprehensively with genuine dialogue and cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination, with international and civil society organizations, including migrants and diaspora, with private sector, including employers and recruiters, trade unions, social partners and local authorities.

My second point is that any global compact on migration needs to look at migration holistically and not focus simply on large movements, which are just one manifestation of migration, and certainly not the most prominent one, and in some respects is the result of a lack of comprehensive and coherent policies.

The Secretary General’s report for the 19 September summit proposes the development of a global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration, over the course of the next two years, and suggests several elements that could be considered in doing so. 

 As a third point let me mention what we at IOM believe are some of the elements that a Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration should include:

  • First and foremost, we must build on the existing normative framework as a basis to respect, protect, and fulfil the human and the labour rights of migrants at all times. We must acknowledge that migrants are human beings entitled to enjoy their human rights in a non-discriminatory manner, regardless where do they are and in what administrative status. The Global compact must help us in changing the current toxic narrative on migrants. 
  • Avenues for safe, orderly, and regular migration must be expanded including through increased opportunities at all skill levels for short, long-term, and circular labour migration, as well as family reunification opportunities. And we must begin the development of regularisation schemes for those migrants left in an irregular status for long periods of time. Such pathways should also encompass increased avenues for temporary and longer-term humanitarian migration, while ensuring protection needs are met, including protection against forced return, in appropriate circumstances. 
  • We must promote avenues for preparing migrants for successful migration and social and labour integration in the host societies. These include among others pre-departure or post-arrival orientation, language and skills training, cultural orientation with emphasis on rights and responsibilities, recognition of foreign qualifications and competencies, and options for remedy and redress mechanisms.  At the same time, as integration is a two way road, communities need to be more open and better prepared to receive migrants by promoting tolerance and understanding.
  • We must foster the positive development outcomes from migration including supporting ethical recruitment, developing channels for cheaper, faster, and safer transfers of remittances in both source and recipient countries, and creating enabling conditions for knowledge and skills exchange, investment, and enhancing the effectiveness of remittances.
  • The impacts of crises on migrants must be addressed, ensuring that humanitarian preparedness and response mechanisms take account of the vulnerabilities and needs of migrants and provide the flexibility to ensure migrant-sensitive responses.  In this regard, we support the proposal in the outcome document to develop guidelines for migrants in vulnerable situations, in a state-led process inclusive of the many stakeholders, as evidenced by the successful Migrants in Countries in Crisis initiative.  IOM would offer its full support to be the secretariat for such an initiative.
  • Investment in data and monitoring on international migration is needed to facilitate the design of evidence-based policy and decision-making as well as to promote the protection and inclusion of migrants.

For achieving all this we need to enhance cooperation and dialogue, and build trust, including through Regional Consultative Processes and inter-regional fora on migration as well as the Global Forum on Migration and Development, engaging States and other relevant stakeholders in critical dialogues and cooperation on the full range of migration opportunities and challenges.

To conclude, let me move to my last point that relates to the process moving forward. A global compact for safe, orderly, and regular migration should be developed through a state-led, clear, transparent, and inclusive process, engaging multiple stakeholders including countries of origin, transit, and destination of migrants, United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations, civil society actors, including migrants and diaspora, and private sector actors, including employers, trade unions and recruiters of migrants, amongst others.

IOM is prepared to play both a leadership and a facilitative role in supporting Member States and working with partner intergovernmental and non-governmental entities to develop a global compact on safe, regular and orderly migration. 

I strongly believe that IOM’s entry into the UN system will facilitate that all relevant UN agencies provide their expert contributions to the global compact in a more coordinated manner and in full respect of their mandates.

We must and can work together to create lives of safety and dignity for all, leaving no one behind, and celebrating the richness and vibrancy that migration brings.

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