Press Releases

14 December 2005

In Migrants Day Message, Secretary-General Calls for Safeguarding Human Rights of All Who Cross Borders "In Search for a Better Life"

NEW YORK, 13 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message on International Migrants Day, observed on 18 December:

International migration is a fundamental attribute of our ever-shrinking world.  Managing this migration for the benefit of all has become one of the great challenges of our age.  Each year, International Migrants Day is an occasion to draw attention to this challenge, as well as an opportunity to celebrate the numerous contributions made by migrants to our societies, cultures and economies.

The global economy is increasingly dependent on migrant workers.  Migrants contribute skills, knowledge and manpower to their host communities.  Their presence promotes exchange of ideas and stimulates cultural and scientific progress.  Migrant labour, both skilled and unskilled, is critical to the success of large sectors of the economies of developed and developing countries alike.  At the same time, the remittances that migrants send to their home countries dwarf the amounts those countries receive in official development assistance.

Yet migration also poses many challenges, and gives rise to understandable concerns in many quarters.  That is why, if migration policy is to be sustainable and successful, and the benefits of migration fully realized, myths and xenophobic stereotypes must be dispelled, and genuine problems addressed.  More must also be done to ensure the respect of the human rights of migrant workers and their families.

The recent report of the Global Commission on International Migration provides important recommendations to guide the way forward.  It links effective migration policy to sound policies on a range of subjects -- not simply human rights, but development, trade, aid, and security.  Next year's High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in the United Nations General Assembly is an opportunity for Member States to begin forging closer cooperation on these 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.

This year's International Migrants Day also marks the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.  To date only 34 States have ratified or acceded to the Convention.  I once again urge all States who have not done so to become parties to this important treaty.  I also ask all State Parties to submit timely reports to the Committee on Migrant Workers on their measures to implement the Convention, and encourage them to recognize the Committee's competence to receive and consider communications from individuals who claim a violation of their rights under the Convention.

Our societies would be poorer without the contributions of migrants.  Today, as we celebrate those contributions, let us also resolve to safeguard the human rights of every man, woman and child who crosses borders in search of a better life.

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