ILO Statement to the Second Committee of the 69th General Assembly

Making migration an option rather than a necessity

Despite the hope for a better future, migrants frequently encounter mistrust and exclusion, and increasingly tragedies and disasters.

Statement | UN Headquarters, New York | 27 October 2014
Mr. Chair,

The Global Migration Group (GMG) brings together 17 UN entities and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to promote the wider application of all relevant migration instruments and global coordination of international migration.

International migration, and its impact on global development, has moved to the forefront of global policy debates. In October 2013, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (A/RES/68/4), a historic step in the consideration of migration at the United Nations.

The GMG welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on international migration and development (A/69/207) and is grateful to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs for inviting the GMG to contribute to it. As outlined in this report, the GMG is undertaking concrete initiatives to implement the Secretary-General’s eight-point agenda for action proposed in his report to the High-level Dialogue last year (A/68/190).

Given that the High-level Dialogue did not provide a clear pathway for implementation, we believe that the General Assembly should give consideration to reviewing progress periodically.

Mr. Chair,

The GMG recognizes the need to place people at the centre of sustainable development and to address the root causes of migratory movements motivated by necessity or coercion rather than by genuine choice. It welcomes the targets related to migrants and migration proposed by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals in July 2014. It stands ready to provide pertinent and concrete assistance to Member States in defining how these targets could be framed, operationalized and measured through the elaboration of robust indicators, and adequate means of implementation, monitoring and accountability mechanisms. Furthermore, next year’s Financing for Development Conference is an important opportunity to draw attention to the role of migration, remittances and diaspora contributions in development.

The GMG is also taking seriously the call to mainstream migration into national development plans, poverty reduction strategies and relevant sectoral policies and programmes. In July 2014, the GMG Principals tasked the working level to prepare guidance on migration for UN Development Assistance Frameworks and other national development planning exercises, which is the first time that such guidance will be formally considered for incorporation in these processes.

We are also working to collect, document and share good practices in such areas as promoting decent work for international migrants and protecting their rights; reducing migration costs; and reducing inequality and promoting inclusive cities and societies. On 16 and 17 October 2014, the GMG Chair held a technical workshop on “Realizing post-2015 development aspirations for migrants and migration” at the UN in New York.

We would like to highlight three messages that emerged:

1. In view of the challenges to governance posed by international and regional labour mobility, social dialogue among a range of stakeholders, particularly governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, can play an important role in improving sustainable development outcomes for all countries, as well as migrants and their families.
2. There are new and innovative mechanisms being developed to better connect migrant remittances and savings, including through the development of financial products such as micro-insurance, to promote financial inclusion that could significantly enhance the contribution of remittances to sustainable development outcomes.
3. There is a key role for city and local government in reducing inequality and promoting the social and economic inclusion of all migrants, for example by facilitating migrants’ access to fundamental human rights as well as to essential local services irrespective of their migration status, and by providing inclusive and quality services, including education and health.

We are also examining how such practices can be scaled up and replicated in other regions of the world; how they can lead to innovative data collection techniques, and how they can inform indicators to measure migration-related targets in the post-2015 development agenda.

Mr. Chair,

We believe that close collaboration is critical if we are to implement the Declaration of the High-level Dialogue, the Secretary-General’s eight-point agenda for action, and, starting next year, the post-2015 development agenda.

Therefore, in chairing the GMG, the ILO has worked closely with employers’ and workers’ organizations, other civil society organizations, such as migrant and diaspora associations and NGOs, the Global Forum on Migration and Development, as well as with Mr. Peter Sutherland, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration and Development and Mr. François Crépeau, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

Mr. Chair,

Please allow us now to make a brief comment on behalf of ILO.

In June of this year, the International Labour Conference, at its 103rd Session, called upon ILO constituents to work towards setting an agenda on fair migration. In particular, the Conference called for promoting decent work in countries of origin and for realizing the rights-based approach to labour migration, including through ratification and effective implementation of relevant ILO Conventions, such as Conventions Nos. 97 and 143 as well as Conventions Nos. 181 and 189, and to enhance the role of social dialogue in migration governance.

Specific recommendations were made to: integrate fair migration into regional integration processes; promote bilateral agreements for well-regulated and fair migration; institute fair recruitment mechanisms, currently being undertaken in the context of the ILO’s Fair Recruitment Initiative; counter unacceptable situations, such as violations of migrant workers’ fundamental rights, including the right to be free from forced labour; and reinforce the statistics and knowledge base in respect of migration.

We believe that effective implementation of this agenda is key to making migration a genuine option rather than an obligation and will enhance the valuable contribution of labour migration to sustainable development

Thank you.