Press Releases

    6 October 2005

    Migrant Labour Key to Economic Success in Both Developed, Developing Worlds, Secretary-General Says as Global Commission Launches Report

    He Describes Finding Ways to Manage Migration as Major 21st Century Challenge; Says Remittances Dwarf Foreign Aid to Home Countries

    NEW YORK, 5 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks at the launch of the report of the Global Commission on International Migration, in New York today, 5 October:

    It is a pleasure to receive the report of the Global Commission on International Migration.

    Mamphele and Jan, you, your fellow Commissioners, and your research team have done an outstanding job.  Congratulations, and thank you.

    I also thank the Core Group of States, from every continent, who have supported the Commission in their work, and helped to ensure its success.

    Even a cursory glance at the report shows that the Commission has drawn on a vast range of material from many sources and stakeholders, and reflected with great care on a subject that touches virtually every field of human endeavour, and on which political debate is intense.  And it has produced a comprehensive and well balanced report, with important recommendations to guide the way ahead.

    In the twenty-first century, one of our most important challenges is to find ways to manage migration for the benefit of all -- of sending countries, receiving countries, transit countries, and migrants themselves.  I agree with the Commission that we are not rising to this challenge yet.  But I am convinced that we must do so, in order to uphold common values and promote shared interests.

    International migration is an inevitable feature of modern societies and of our globalized world.  We should welcome that.  The continued growth of the global economy depends on migration.  Migrant labour, both skilled and unskilled, is the key to the success of particular sectors of the economies of developed and developing countries alike.  Meanwhile, the remittances that migrants send to their home countries dwarf the amounts those countries receive in official development assistance.

    But migration also poses many challenges, and gives rise to understandable concerns in many quarters.  If migration policy is to be sustainable and successful, and the benefits of migration fully realized, myths must be dispelled, and genuine problems must be addressed.

    Our starting point must be one of principle.  The development benefits of migration can only be realized within a framework of respect for the human rights of migrants themselves.  The report stresses the need to improve the application of existing law and the machinery to protect those rights.

    Indeed, effective migration policy is linked to sound policies on a range of subjects -- not just on human rights, but on development, trade, aid, and security.  States too often approach migration without considering how it is linked to these other issues.  As the report argues, more coherent migration policies will yield better results, particularly when it comes to development.

    It is ultimately for each State to determine its migration policies, in conformity with its international obligations.  But more effective bilateral, regional and global cooperation is clearly desirable on a range of issues, such as improving opportunities for both skilled and unskilled workers, facilitating the legal transfer of remittances, reducing the incidence of irregular migration, and promoting better integration of migrants into society.

    Next year's High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in the UN General Assembly is an opportunity to begin forging closer cooperation on important issues.  I hope all States will draw on the ideas and recommendations in the Commission's report to help ensure that the Dialogue is a success.

    As part of this effort, we must look at our international structures, and improve on them.  I intend to study with care the recommendations the Commission makes for the United Nations system, and to work with Member States to follow them up.

    As we prepare for next year's High-Level Dialogue, let's improve the communication among States.  Let's explore what options exist for closer cooperation.  And let's try to find common ground on regional and global options that are worth pursuing, so as to produce outcomes that benefit us all.

    In that spirit, I commend the Commission's report to all stakeholders in this debate.  And I hope that the Member States of the United Nations will use its findings to benefit their own citizens, and for the benefit of the men, women and children who cross borders today in search of a better life.

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