International Migrants Day - 18 December 2013

Promote and protect the rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants

Joint statement by ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Navi Pillay.

Statement | 17 December 2013
December 18, 2013 – Today, the ILO and OHCHR pay joint tribute to 232 million migrants worldwide who have left their homes in search of a better and more dignified life for themselves and their families.

Migrants make significant and essential contributions to the economic, social and cultural development of their host countries and their communities back home. But too often these contributions go unrecognized, and instead the public debate is dominated by xenophobic attitudes and discrimination, both in and outside the workplace.

Migration Works

Discrimination based on one’s migration status not only violates human rights; it is also an impediment to decent work and to social integration more broadly.

Migrants in an irregular situation are often particularly at risk of abuse, as they are more likely to face discrimination, exclusion, exploitation and abuse at all stages of the migration process.

Against this backdrop, it is time for a major shift in the way we perceive migration. We need to redouble our efforts to raise awareness of migrants’ positive social and economic contributions to society. It is time to implement human rights and labour standards more effectively, and to put in place concrete measures to combat discrimination and xenophobia, including:
  • enacting legislative and other reforms to eliminate all forms of discrimination against migrants;
  • strengthening law enforcement and criminal justice responses to xenophobia and violence and enabling migrants to access justice;
  • creating multi-stakeholders campaigns to end negative and inaccurate public messages and to promote tolerance and respect for migrants; and
  • collecting and disseminating accurate data on discrimination and on the positive contributions that migrants make to the development of both their host countries and home communities.
In October at the UN High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, UN member States reaffirmed the need to promote and protect effectively the rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migration status. They also emphasized the need to respect international labour standards and the rights of migrants in their workplaces.

Today, on the eve of the 65th anniversary of the adoption of the first ever international convention on the rights of migrant workers (C97) and the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the ILO and OHCHR urge UN member States to take this commitment forward in line with a genuine rights-based approach to international migration.

We will continue to work together with all parts of government, independent human rights institutions, social partners, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to uphold the human rights of all migrants worldwide.