Migrants Rights International

Thursday, December 21, 2006

MRI Statement Presented at the High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development, in Roundtable No. 2,

New York, September 14, 2006

Migrants Rights International Statement,

Presented at the High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development, in Roundtable No. 2,

“Measures that can be adopted to ensure the respect and protection of the human rights of

all migrants, and to prevent and combat the trafficking of migrants and persons,”

In New York City, 4th of September 2006.

MRI greets with goodwill the decision of the General Secretary to ensure the participation of representatives of the civil society in this important and constructive dialogue so crucial to the sphere of human rights, as to the basic rights of migrants.

In numerous declarations and resolutions adopted by different agencies of the United Nations, such as those adopted by the Vienna Conference on Human Rights or the Johannesburg Summit on Development, the States have agreed and reaffirmed repeatedly that the concept of development is intrinsically linked to human rights. More precisely, the sustainable development of nations and peoples cannot be achieved if not with the full respect, protection and satisfaction of the human rights of all persons, without any discrimination.

For this reason, if the objective of the High Level Dialogue is to address the question of migration in a way that maximizes the benefits of development, then there is no other path more indicated for that than through the fulfillment of the commitments assumed through the international norms of human rights.

The lack of access to those rights, or discrimination in their recognition or exercise, is a principal cause for migration. For that reason, the nexus between migration and development can only be viable (and not contradictory in itself) if human rights constitute the base, the method and the end of both aspects.

To reach this objective, the United Nations and each of its member States, counts with appropriate tools: the international instruments of human rights. In this manner, a primary central obligation is the ratification of the norms, particularly those in the UN International Convention of 1990 regarding the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families. On the other hand, to comply with the obligations mandated by each of these treaties, the States should adopt measures to respect, protect and satisfy the human rights of all persons, which should be implemented in each of the stages of migration -- that is in the countries of origin, transit, and destination.

As it has been indicated, the full respect of human rights in the countries of origin necessarily presupposes adopting pertinent measures to deal with the causes of migration. And there we find national and local causes as well as international ones. At the international level, in questions such as free trade agreements, investment policies, some features indicated by multilateral credit institutions, or armed conflicts, are found some of the principle aspects to consider. In all of these cases, the considerable impact in the vulnerability of the basic rights of millions of persons in countries of origin that drive migration has been dully proven. For that reason, it is indispensable that States, the international community and the entities and agencies involved review their policies to substantially reverse this situation.

As to the local or regional causes of migration form the countries of origin (interconnected with those internationally), we find that the deprivation of cultural, social and economic rights constitutes one of the central problems in generalized poverty and systematic, social structural exclusion. In this respect, the international human rights instruments (among these, the PIDESC) and their interpretation by protection and monitoring bodies, establish clear and precise obligations that the States must follow with these transgressions and with full guarantee (without discrimination) of such rights. Likewise, addressing the causes of migration require that the countries adopt measures for, among other issues, deepening the democratization of public institutions, combating corruption, ensuring access to (independent and impartial) justice and guaranteeing mechanisms for the wide, democratic participation of civil society and the different peoples and cultures that are present. The denial of political and civil rights of large sectors of the population in numerous countries also need to be urgently reversed. Finally, seriously dealing with the causes of migration also demands that all/and each of/ the public policies respect in its entirety the principle of non-discrimination in a way that neither for action or omission, should the exercise of rights be violated (in conditions of equality) for any person, group or people for any of the reasons prohibited by the international law of human rights.

The countries of transit, for their part, should also adopt measures and policies to ensure the rights of migrant persons, particularly, the right of freedom of movement, due process, the right to life and access to justice.

As to the destination countries, migration will be a factor of development – sustainable, just and fair – only if the obligation to respect and satisfy the rights of migrants, male and female, is duly complied with. For this, the States should take steps urgently to: eliminate all elements of discrimination in public policies (not only immigration laws) on the basis of nationality and migratory status of persons; guarantee the equal access to all basic rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights (such as health, education, employment, labor, etc.); promote and facilitate the social integration of both male and female migrants; ensure the exercise of basic civil rights like the freedom of movement, access to justice and due process. In addition, if these countries believe that migration contributes to development, they should guarantee, that after a length of residency, the full exercise of political rights. Finally, we sustain that the model of citizenship that contributes to fair and sustainable development, can only be that one that is inclusive – that is, that ensures rights to each person living in a territory – and not exclusive (as it happens in the majority of destination countries), only granting differential rights (or denying their recognition) along nationality or duration of stay.

In conclusion, we are fully convinced that there is no better path than that of human rights to achieve development and to rightfully address the question of migration (in all its aspects). Or said better, there is no other path. The human rights of all persons in the countries of origin, transit and destination are the only guarantee to ensure a sustainable, fair and legally legitimate development in our societies. They constitute the only means to achieve migration that is voluntary, regular and orderly. Likewise, it is the best antidote to resolve the deeper causes in the increase in human trafficking and slavery. If human rights are not the nucleus of all and each of the public policies (local, national, regional and international) on behalf of all nations, migration will continue to be seen – erroneously – as something negative, as a supposed threat to national and international security, or social and economic well-being of a society. Also, development will continue to be unfair, unequal and only measured in economic and financial terms, benefiting few, excluding the majority of persons and generating greater migratory flows of persons seeking conditions for a more dignified life.

Thank you,

Presented by:

Pablo Ceriani Cernadas

Migrants Rights International (MRI)

Migrants Rights International

c.p. 135, 15 route des Morillons

1211 Geneva, Switzerland



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