Statement, Extraordinary Meeting for the Arab Regional Consultative Process on Migration and Refugee Affairs, in preparation for the consultations of the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

Date Publish: 
Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - 14:00
Speaker: 
Ms. Laura Thompson, Deputy Director General, International Organization for Migration
Location: 
Cairo

Dear Excellencies

Distinguished Delegates

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is both an honor and pleasure for me to be here today on behalf of the International Organization for Migration for this extraordinary meeting of the Arab Regional Consultative Process on Migration and Refugee Affairs.  In this regard, I would like to thank most sincerely our hosts, the League of Arab States and the Government of Egypt.   

Today’s meeting is both timely and critical.  With the adoption on 19 September 2016 of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, Member States of the United Nations, and the international community at large, decided to embark on a path to develop two Global Compacts in 2018, one on refugees and one on migration.

While the September 2016 Summit took place in the context of large movements of refugees and migrants, and was precipitated by the tragedies of significant loss of life in the Mediterranean, it is important to underscore that the Global Compact for Migration is intended to address migration globally and in all its dimensions, including its human rights, humanitarian, climate change, and development aspects. 

My colleagues here from the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees will soon discuss the Global Compact for Refugees.  I will focus my remarks on the development of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. 

Let me begin this discussion on the Global Compact for Migration by underscoring the historic opportunity that it provides. 

This is the first time, at the global level, that Member States have committed to develop a comprehensive framework for cooperation on international migration, based on the existing normative framework including international human rights, labour and transnational organized crime law as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other relevant policy frameworks. 

The global compact for migration is expected to create a comprehensive framework to guide the field of international migration. It would fill an important gap in today’s international system, creating the first comprehensive global agreement on human mobility to guide States’ approaches to migration through a set of common principles and understandings regarding migration in all its dimensions. Moreover, it is expected to foster deeper collaboration between Member States and with relevant partners on international migration.

In essence, the Global Compact for Migration is intended to provide a cooperation framework and concrete measures for realizing, amongst others, target 10.7 of the SDGs, in which governments committed to cooperate internationally to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies, as well as the full range of the SDGs for migrants, for example access to health, education, decent work and gender empowerment, so that migrants are not left behind as development progresses.  

To say that the Arab region is one in which migration figures prominently is an understatement. IOM data shows that the Arab region hosted more than 35 million international migrants in 2016, including large numbers of labour migrants but also refugees.

With more than 26 million Arab migrants living outside their country of origin, including within the Arab region itself, migration is not only a livelihood strategy for many in the Arab region, but also a potentially powerful driver of development and economic growth through remittance flows and skills transfer.

The region is also a transit hub.  Significant numbers of migrants transit through the region, or stay for only short periods. For instance, the GCC is one of the largest hubs of expatriate labour in the world, hosting more than 25 million foreign nationals in 2015, mainly from Asia, but also the Arab region and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The protracted nature of the Syria crisis and the conditions of political instability in some Arab countries has political, security and social implications, that deeply affect the Arab countries and beyond.  

It is clear therefore, that the prominence of migration in the Arab region poses both opportunities and challenges for policy makers in the region and beyond—challenges and opportunities that the Global Compact for Migration can help to address.

It is also clear that the region has considerable experience and expertise to share as all UN Member States work together to develop the Global Compact for Migration.

The responses of the region, including very importantly the resolutions at the recent Arab League Summit, demonstrate the commitment of the region to work collaboratively to share its expertise and develop collective responses. 

Throughout the thematic consultations of the global compact for migration, mention after mention has been made about the importance of Regional Consultative Processes in cooperation on migration management.  All of these consultations, not least the one you are holding here tomorrow, will be critical to ensuring the unique perspectives and experiences of the Arab region inform the zero draft of the Global Compact for Migration. I look forward to hearing today some of these perspectives and experiences, and thank you once again for the honor and pleasure of attending.