Migrants key to human development and long-term economic recovery

28 May 2010

Global Migration Group meets in Geneva to explore links between principled policies and economic growth

Geneva, Switzerland – To ensure widespread human development, security and prosperity, Governments and all sectors of civil society need to work together to improve conditions for migrants and eliminate barriers to human mobility, concluded delegates at a two-day symposium of experts from the United Nations system, Governments and civil society, organized by the Global Migration Group (GMG). The GMG is comprised of 13 UN entities, including the World Bank, plus the International Organization for Migration.

The delegates stressed the importance of publicly recognizing the contributions of migrants to economic growth and human development, especially in the context of the economic crisis. As legal migration opportunities and jobs are dwindling, migrants are at a higher risk to experience exploitation, discrimination and xenophobia. “Leaving migrants unprotected and in limbo threatens to undermine the human development benefits of migration for countries of origin and destination, and those who move”, said Olav Kjorven, Director of the Bureau for Development Policy at the UN Development Programme, and current chair of the GMG.

It could also prove short-sighted as global inequalities in opportunity and demographic imbalances will continue to propel international migration. “Ageing societies will still need migration in the medium to long term to fill critical labour shortages, care for the elderly and contribute to social security systems” said Kjorven.

Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned of “a rising tendency to criminalize, incarcerate and deport migrants, which introduces vulnerability into the lives of those that have already established a life abroad.” To tackle these negative responses to migration, she suggested, “It is vitally important to promote public awareness and education campaigns which highlight the benefits that migrants bring to society, as well as the universality of human rights, regardless of nationality or immigration status.”

The symposium explored ways to forge new partnerships and encourage greater cooperation. To accomplish this, “capacities need to be developed at the individual, local, national and international levels”, said Carlos Lopes, Director of the UN Institute for Training and Research. Having a joint strategy that clearly spells out common objectives in the area of migration and development and which is rooted in human rights can unite different stakeholders to remove barriers to mobility. In the long run, this will benefit both the destination and origin countries.

For more information on the GMG, please consult the following link: www.globalmigrationgroup.org

Contact Information

Contact in Geneva:
Adam Rogers / UNDP Senior Communications Advisor and Spokesperson
adam.rogers@undp.org; tel +41 22 917 8541