International Migrants Day Statement, IOM Director General António Vitorino: “Harnessing the Potential of Human Mobility”

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Geneva – International Migrants Day this year falls almost exactly 70 years after the Brussels conference that led to the establishment of the International Organization for Migration.

Over these seven decades we have provided assistance to millions of migrants worldwide and worked tirelessly with our member states to ensure migration is managed in a safe, orderly and dignified manner.

As the Organization has evolved, so too has the face of human mobility.

Beyond the images of closed borders, separated families and economic instability, the now two-year-old global pandemic has spawned a new wave of anti-migrant sentiment and the increasing instrumentalization of migrants as tools in state policy.

Both are unacceptable.

So too is the relative impunity with which unscrupulous people smugglers operate along migration routes worldwide. The rule of law must be observed and action taken to combat those who exploit people at their most vulnerable.

The response to COVID-19 has forcefully underlined the importance of migrant workers in keeping us all safe.

The positive social and economic impact in the countries where they reside, and the USD 540 billion remitted last year to communities in lower and middle-income countries are measures of the industry, entrepreneurship and community from which we all benefit.

But, in order to realize the full potential of human mobility, two things must happen.

Governments must move from words to action and include migrants regardless of their legal status, in their social and economic recovery plans.

And, we must renew our commitment to reinforcing legal channels for migration that balance and respect both national sovereignty and the human rights of people on the move.

A comprehensive approach requires that we leave aside the defensive posturing that too often victimizes people along their migratory journeys.

It requires our immediate collective efforts and commitment to create policies that maximize the potential of migration for all while ensuring the fundamental human rights of migrants are protected.

The International Migration Review Forum in May will provide an opportunity to review progress on the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which provides a framework to address the challenges associated with migration, while strengthening the contribution of migrants and migration to human development.

Together we can realize the full potential of human mobility.

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals