MIGRATION is an engine of economic growth, innovation and sustainable development, says United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Making Migration Work for All, the report released to the UN General Assembly on Friday, is the Secretary-General’s contribution to the process of developing a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular.
“Migration is an expanding global reality ” Guterres maintained. “The time for debating the need for cooperation in this field is past”, and managing it is one of the most urgent and profound tests of international cooperation of our time.”
The report offers the Secretary-General’s vision for constructive international cooperation, examining how to better manage migration, for the benefit of all – the migrants themselves, their host communities and their societies of origin.
Guterres emphasized that migration is an engine of economic growth, innovation and sustainable development. The report highlights that there is a clear body of evidence that, despite real challenges, migration is beneficial both for migrants and host communities, in economic and social terms. The Global Compact will provide Member States the opportunity to maximise those benefits and better address migration challenges.
The report points to an estimated 258 million international migrants, or 3.4 per cent of the world’s population, with levels expected to increase. He said while the majority of migrants move between countries in a safe, orderly and regular manner, a significant minority of migrants face life-threatening conditions.
The report notes that around 6 million migrants are trapped in forced labour, and that recent large-scale movements of migrants and refugees, in regions including the Sahel and South-east Asia, have created major humanitarian crises. The report calls for the Global Compact to include a special strategy to address this.
The report underscores the economic benefits of migration. Migrants spend 85 per cent of their earnings in their host communities and send the remaining 15 per cent to their countries of origin.
In 2017 alone, migrants sent home approximately US$600 billion in remittances, which is three times all official development assistance.
“Women, who make up 48 per cent of all migrants, send home a higher percentage of their earnings than men, yet they face more restrictive labour policies and employment customs than men, thus restricting their economic income and social contribution. Member States are urged to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a central element of the Global Compact,” he stated.
The Secretary-General urged governments to work together to establish a productive and humane global migration system which would enhance, rather than detract from sovereignty.
“If governments open more legal pathways for migration, based on realistic analyses of labour market needs, there is likely to be fewer border crossings, fewer migrants working outside the law and fewer abuses of irregular migrants,” he stated.
The Secretary-General maintained that a new approach to migration is necessary.
“It is now time to draw together all parts of the UN system, including International Organization for Migration (IOM), to support Member State efforts to address migration,” Guterres said.
The Secretary-General committed to working within the UN system to identify new ways to help Member States manage migration better based on the Global Compact.