18.12.2013 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

Maintaining the Momentum after the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development: Give Migrants a Place in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

© UN Photo / Tim McKulka - Displaced Sudanese, El Fasher

On the occasion of International Migrants Day 2013, which marks the day of the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, the GMG calls for a migrant-centred approach to migration governance that recognizes human rights and development as two sides of the same coin.

The Global Migration Group (GMG) welcomes the outcomes of the second United Nations (UN) High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development which took place at the UN General Assembly in New York on 3 and 4 October 2013.

The Declaration adopted at the High-level Dialogue broke new ground, expressing a strong convergence of views and opening a new chapter in multilateral cooperation on migration. The broad areas of consensus that emerged – placing priority on the human and labour rights of all migrants and their families with emphasis on the most vulnerable, the need to integrate migrants and migration in the new global development agenda, and the recognition that migration matters for all countries – matched the recommendations presented by the GMG in advance of the Dialogue. The GMG is also encouraged by the substantive nature of the discussions and the spirit of cooperation and partnership that characterized the two-day meeting as well as the months of preparation that preceded it.

On the occasion of International Migrants Day 2013, which marks the day of the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, the GMG calls for a migrant-centred approach to migration governance that recognizes human rights and development as two sides of the same coin.

“Migrants – the main protagonists in the migration-development debate – must be at the centre of our attention” said the current Chair of the GMG, Director General of the International Organization for Migration William Lacy Swing, in his address to the General Assembly in October. “A few years from now, we would like to be working in a world in which all States are committed to the human and labour rights of migrants and their families in law and in practice, with a focus on the most vulnerable.”

The GMG is committed to turning words into actions following the High-level Dialogue and urges governments and other partners to move in the same direction. A key priority in the immediate future is the inclusion of migration and migrants in the post-2015 UN development agenda.

Migration can be an enabler of development for individuals and societies alike. Migration allows individuals and families to diversify livelihoods, manage risks, adapt to environmental and economic shocks, and seek freedom and opportunities. Remittances, for instance, have lifted millions of families out of poverty and improved their access to education and health. In countries of destination, migrant workers rejuvenate workforces, create businesses, expand tax bases, contribute to social security systems, and keep entire sectors of industry and services afloat.

At the High-level Dialogue, Member States and civil society representatives called for fully integrating migration into the post-2015 UN development agenda. Since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, the case for including migration in the future UN development agenda has become stronger and more urgent. Human mobility has increased, as demographic trends have diverged and inequalities have deepened. With high youth unemployment, the prospect of further economic shocks and environmental disasters, and a global competition for skills and talent, a collaborative global approach to migration and development is needed more than ever.

To be truly beneficial migration must take place in safety and dignity and with full respect for the human and labour rights of all migrants and their families. An inclusive and rights-based development agenda must leave no one behind: it must pay attention both to the contributions which migrants make to development and to the challenges and vulnerabilities they face.

The 16 members of the GMG appeal to Member States to include migration and migrants, as rights-holders and full and equal subjects of development, in their vision for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development strategies at the national level and in the post-2015 UN development agenda, including the future sustainable development goals.

The GMG propose three main ways to give migrants and migration their rightful place in the post-2015 UN development agenda:

First, migrants and migration should be incorporated into the targets and indicators of specific development goals. Examples include poverty eradication and inclusive growth, productive employment and decent work for all, adaptation and resilience in the context of environmental change, good health, quality education, governance, science, technology and innovation, macroeconomic stability, trade, investment, population dynamics, and gender equality and women’s empowerment. Migration-related targets to lower the human, social and financial costs of migration could advance those goals: targets could include reducing transfer fees for remittances, ensuring access to basic services such as health, education and social security systems, improving mechanisms to recognize migrants’ skills, and promoting and protecting the rights of all migrant workers.

Second, the human and labour rights of migrants and members of their families should be respected, protected and fulfilled. In particular, the implementation of the rights of migrant women, of children, adolescents and youth in the context of migration, and of migrants in an irregular situation should be monitored through appropriately disaggregated indicators in areas such as health, education, justice, social protection, and decent work to ensure that migrants are not exploited, discriminated against, socially excluded or denied equality of treatment and opportunity.

Third, migration should become part of a new “global partnership for development”. Such a partnership should aim to enhance the contributions of migrants to countries of origin and destination, and to make the migratory process fairer and safer for migrants and their families. As no country will be able to govern international migration in isolation, cooperation between multiple stakeholders and across international borders is a prerequisite.

The GMG believes that the High-level Dialogue has generated the momentum for genuine advances in migration governance and looks forward to working with the Global Forum on Migration and Development, social partners, civil society, the UN human rights mechanisms including the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on International Migration and Development, and other partners in living up to the commitments made at the 2013 High-level Dialogue.

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The GMG is an inter-agency group bringing together 15 entities of the United Nations system and the International Organization for Migration to promote the wider application of all relevant international and regional instruments and norms relating to migration, and to encourage the adoption of more coherent, comprehensive and better coordinated approaches to the issue of international migration.




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