The Migrant – another focal point for the UN in 2013

“They are objects of the debate on migration policy discussions rather than subjects.”-Mr. Francois Crepeau, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants.

The United Nations will hold a High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in October 2013. In order to better hear the views of Member States and experts, the International Organization for Migration, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the UNFPA, in collaboration with interested Missions organized a Roundtable to talk about “Measures to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of all migrants including women and children, as well as to prevent and combat smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons, and to ensure regular, orderly, and safe migration” on February 20 2013. The Permanent Missions of Bangladesh and Norway and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also held an event focused on the issue of forced migration the day before the Roundtable. The World Youth Alliance participated in and closely monitored both events.

Irregular Migrant and their Human Rights

The world has 214 million international migrants— 30 million of whom are “irregular migrants,” which means migrant workers with irregular status, including victims of human trafficking and smuggling. Irregular migrants not only often engaged in 3D jobs (Dirty, Dangerous and Difficult), but also are frequently exploited by their employers and face all forms of violence, discrimination, hate speech and xenophobia.

With regard to achieving more regular and safe migration, many constructive recommendations were raised in the discussions, such as decriminalization; assessing the labor market from the migration perspective; providing training for migrant workers; reducing labor migration costs and strengthening bilateral labor mobility agreements. The discussions focused on the importance of states developing appropriate policies and laws, and providing adequate information, assistance, protections, tribunals and even human rights-centered return and reintegration strategies.

 migrant ship

Combating Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling- 4Ps and Taiwan Model

Human trafficking often results in human rights violations and exposes migrants to vulnerabilities. The panelists highlighted some strategies to fight against human trafficking, such as universal ratification of the Palermo Protocols—the two UN protocols that propose the 3P paradigm (Prosecution, Protection, Prevention) as a comprehensive victim-centered approach solution to empower victims and provide long-term economic opportunities and target smuggling business instead of detaining migrants.

“Partnership” has also become the important fourth “P” of fighting against human trafficking in recent years. For instance, although Taiwan is not a Member State of the UN, by closely cooperating with international NGOSs and NPOs, Taiwan has been ranked as “Tier 1,” which signifies that it represents the best model of combating human trafficking according to the U.S’s Trafficking in Persons Report along with South Korea and 36 other countries in Asia since 2010.

Children and Women in Migrant Issues

According to UNICEF, 33 million migrants, or 16% of all international migrants, are under age of 20. This number represents the rising need for age-sensitive policies. Christian Salazar, the Deputy Director of Programme Division of UNICEF, reaffirmed that governments should ensure that their legislations and policies are coherent with The Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The feminization of migrant workers has occurred due to the rising need for women in domestic work, arranged marriages, and the sex industry, and has been exacerbated as women become more independent in some migrant origin countries. These women often face gender-based discrimination, violence and the threat of HIV/AIDS. During the discussion, the panelists suggested that governments should ensure that female migrants have access to public health care without the fear of arrest or deportation.

More Attention should be paid to Force Migrants and Climate Change

In 2011, 72 million people were forced migrants—more than one in every 100 of the world’s citizens. According to the World Disasters Report 2012 on forced migration and displacement, conflict (43%), disaster (15%) and development projects(15%) are the three major factors causing forced displacements. The Report also highlighted that governments should provide migrant-centered policies that maximize the positive and productive opportunities associated with migration and combine humanitarian and development approaches at the same time.

Dr.Abdul Momen, the Ambassador from the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh, called upon Member States to emphasize the serious problem of climate migrants, such as the victims of climate change in Bangladesh. Michele Klein Solomon, Permanent Observer from the International Organization of Migrants to the United Nations, also echoed the Ambassador’s words by addressing the need for international actors to take greater responsibility for the needs of migrants

The World Youth Alliance applauds all the panelists and Member States for their efforts. We recognize the central importance of the issue of migration, and uphold the central tenet that all policies and outcome documents should be people-centered. We will remain actively engaged in the discussions at the UN and share them promptly with our members around the world.

By Jonathan T.Y. Yang, Advocacy Intern at WYA HQ, New York

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