Press Releases

    GA/10494
    15 September 2006

    General Assembly Opens High-Level Debate on International Migration, Hearing Call for Urgent Solutions to Plight of Migrants

    Secretary-General Welcomes Belgium's Offer to Host First Meeting Next Year on Proposed Forum on Migration and Development

    NEW YORK, 14 September (UN Headquarters) -- With nearly 200 million people currently no longer living in their country of birth, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today opened the General Assembly's first-ever debate on the state of international migration, calling for urgent solutions to migrants' plight, as well as recognition of their contributions to the world economy.

    "I sense that the mood is changing", Mr. Annan told ministers gathered in New York to attend the Assembly's two-day High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.  Noting that politicians were now more receptive to discussing the impact of migration -- once viewed as a domestic issue -- he said more countries were now significantly involved in, and affected by, international migration than at any time in history.  "To put it simply, we are all in this together", he added.

    And, while he stressed that more and more people understood that Governments could cooperate to create triple wins -- for migrants, for their countries of origin and for the societies that receive them -- he acknowledged that no one could deny that international migration had negative aspects -- trafficking, smuggling, social discontent -- or that it often arose from poverty or political strife.

    "[By] being here today you show yourselves willing to tackle migration's challenges through dialogue and cooperation, rather than antagonism and isolation", Mr. Annan said, adding that it was time to end migration policies based on hunches, anecdotes and political expediency.  "It is now time to turn to the evidence and use it to build a common understanding of how international migration can bring benefits to all", he declared.

    In that regard, he welcomed Belgium's offer to host the first meeting next year of his proposed Global Forum on Migration and Development, a standing body, in which countries would be able to discuss and exchange the best ideas and practices on the issue.  The informal and consultative Forum would "allow us to build relationships of trust, and to bring together the best ideas that different countries have developed:  facilitating remittances; engaging diasporas; exploring new ways to reduce poverty; [and] building educational partnerships", he said.

    General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed al Khalifa of Bahrain told the gathering that, "if harnessed constructively, migration can have a profound effect on development", with migrants' remittances to their native countries particularly helpful in reducing poverty.  But she added that the migration of skilled peoples from developing countries to affluent nations can severely impede development in poorer States.

    Sheikha Haya said that only through close cooperation among Member States, international institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector could the international community help ensure that the labour supply matched demand; that there would be a smooth transition for countries that had shifted from being primarily sources of migrants to destinations for them; and that migrants' rights, particularly migrant women's rights, were not exploited.

    Picking up on that thread, Oumar Hamadoun Dicko, Minister for Malians Residing Abroad and African Integration of Mali, said the real scandal of migration -- often hidden from the wider public -- was in the economic and sexual exploitation of migrant women and children; in the unfair trade practices that wrecked development in poor countries; in the divisive and deceptive media and their portrayal of the West as an "El Dorado-like" paradise; in the shameless exploitation of clandestine immigrants working in poor and hazardous conditions for little money; and especially in the huge commissions charged by institutions sending and receiving remittances.

    Calling particular attention to the remittances issue, he said innovative financing was turning into a key way to promote sustainable development on many levels.  The international community must find better ways to ensure that those remittances supported development, particularly since they were estimated to be four times higher than official development assistance (ODA).  There was a need to ensure the productive investment of those funds to secure socio-economic development in sending regions.

    Billie A. Miller, Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, said the Caribbean region had the highest migration rate into countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in proportion to its labour force.  She expressed concerns over the serious implications for development gains as a result of the exodus of valuable skilled professionals from the region.

    Destination countries should invest in both training and strengthening those sectors from which they recruited personnel in source countries.  There was an important positive symbiotic element to the movement of service providers across borders, she said.  On the part of destination countries, migrants made an important contribution to the building of economies and societies.  As for the source countries, there was the possibility of "remittances of expertise", whereby immigrants returned home with enhanced capacity and abilities that would redound positively to national development efforts.

    Speaking from the viewpoint of an "importing" country, Ali Abdullah Al-Kaabi, Minister of Labour of the United Arab Emirates, said that, since the flow of oil had begun in his country, the State had opted to import foreign labour to help build up the infrastructure.  The State had established a partnership with labour-exporting countries, notably developing ones, to help invigorate their economies and implement their development programmes.  It was estimated that external remittances amounted to $22 billion annually.

    As expatriate labour represented approximately 90 per cent of the country's work force, with remittances accounting for 8-9.5 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP), he said the United Arab Emirates had put forth a set of laws and regulations ensuring that guest workers were temporary, and not permanent, immigrants.  Those laws had been made in accordance with mechanisms and procedures agreed upon by labour-importing, as well as labour-exporting countries, and ratified by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

    People were at the core of the migration debate, declared Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Home Affairs of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China.  So the protection of the human rights of migrants, workers and their families, as outlined in United Nations, as well as International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, was a central component of comprehensive and balanced migration management.

    She urged delegates to acknowledge the important contribution that migrants made to their countries of destination, as well as those of the large number of female migrants.  Measures were needed to reduce the vulnerability, exploitation and abuse of female migrants.  Policies that empowered migrants should be endorsed and remittances should not be considered as a substitute for investment, trade, foreign aid and debt relief.

    Tarja Filatov, Minister of Labour of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, noted that the need for dialogue and cooperation between Governments and international organizations on migration and development were more important than ever in today's new era of international mobility.  Aspects related to international migration should become an integral part of the development agenda, with greater consideration given to how migration issues could be integrated into poverty reduction strategies and national development plans, and how donors could support their partners' priorities.

    It was necessary to build sufficient capacity in countries of origin and transit, in order to institute effective migration policies that contributed to development, she said.  "Circular migration" could play a useful role in fostering the transfer of skills and knowledge to developing countries, and should be promoted.  Policy responses to "brain drain" needed to be tailored to the particular challenges facing each affected country.  Such responses could consist of more ethical and disciplined recruitment policies to address the push-pull factors of migration.  The mobility of health workers was a key issue that must be addressed through comprehensive national policies, as well as international agreements and action.

    Ali Hachani ( Tunisia), President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said the international community should take every opportunity to establish partnerships and promote the exchange of best practices and information on migrants and the phenomenon of international migration.  Overall, he hoped the Dialogue would shed light on ways the Council and the wider United Nations system could boost its efforts to ensure benefits and better management of migration, particularly towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals for all.

    The Vice-President of Gabon also addressed the Dialogue.

    Also speaking at the ministerial level were the representatives of Malta, Guyana (on behalf of the Rio Group), Denmark, Botswana, Morocco, Mexico, Bangladesh, Turkey, Philippines, Russian Federation, Algeria, El Salvador, Lesotho, Australia, Zimbabwe, India, Egypt, Lithuania, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Burkina Faso, Sweden, Bolivia, Singapore, Niger, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Malaysia, Pakistan, Libya, Bahamas, Norway, Sri Lanka, Israel, Côte D'Ivoire, Ghana, Belize, Haiti, Luxembourg, Ukraine, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Austria, Guatemala, Thailand, Japan, Portugal, Hungary, Namibia and Jamaica.

    The representative of Fiji also spoke.

    The Assembly's High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development will reconvene Friday morning, 15 September, at 10 a.m.

    Background

    The General Assembly met today to open its two-day High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.

    Before the Assembly was a report of the Secretary-General on International migration and development (document A/60/871) in which he states that international migration constitutes an ideal means of promoting co-development -- the coordinated improvement of economic conditions in both origin and destination areas based on the complementarities between them.  The report discusses ways in which migration can contribute to co-development and presents a comprehensive review of the multidimensional aspects of international migration, including migration trends; the impact of migration on destination and origin countries; rights, gender, benefits, integration and protection of migrants; and the normative framework and modes of cooperation developed to improve the governance of migration.

    The report states that the Dialogue will be remembered as the moment when cooperation on making migration work for development attained a new level.  While States have the right to decide who is allowed to enter their territory, subject to international treaty obligations, this right should not prevent cooperation to ensure that migration helps in meeting development goals.  An example of migration's potential for good is that migrants sent $167 billion back home to developing countries in 2005 alone, dwarfing all forms of international aid combined.

    Describing the changing pattern in migration, the report notes that countries are no longer easily divided into "origin" or "destination" categories since so many are now both.  Those distinctions, as well as the perceived demarcation between the global "North" and "South", are being blurred and, in some cases, have disappeared completely.  Ireland, the Republic of Korea and Spain now have burgeoning economies and attract migrants whereas once they were exclusively associated with emigration.  For such reasons, international migration is no longer about wealth and poverty.  Policy should not be made on the basis of economics alone but also in consideration of social, cultural and political consequences.

    The report says primary goals of the Dialogue, therefore, must be to raise awareness of the development dimension in debates about migration worldwide, to examine the relationship between migration and development, particularly in reducing poverty, and to identify examples of best practices where migration has been made to work for development.  The indispensable contributions of migrants to the developed world must be taken into account.  The Dialogue could serve as a catalyst for Governments to improve their internal coordination on migration and development issues, and a focus on a more coherent approach to policymaking could be an outcome.  The Dialogue was also focusing minds in civil society, the private sector and the philanthropic world, all of which have an essential role to play in creating the conditions needed for migration to become a more effective development tool.  The time has come to move from policies based on hunches and anecdotes to policies based on evidence.  Possible areas for Governments to explore in shaping international migration and distributing its costs include the promotion of entrepreneurship, facilitating access to financial institutions and establishing partnerships.

    There is nothing to be lost and much to be gained from exploring international migration in a more systematic and informed fashion, the report concludes.  Many, if not most, States understand that the phenomenon cannot be managed unilaterally since, like trade and finance, it is a fundamental feature of the modern world and must be addressed at the global level.  A list of initiatives taken at the national and regional levels has been made available to participants in preparation for the Dialogue.  The Special Representative on Migration and Development, Peter Sutherland, has been consulting with stakeholders around the world.  The Global Migration Group was established earlier this year to strengthen coordination within the United Nations system and with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).  A consultative forum open to all Member States will offer Governments a venue to discuss migration-related issues.

    Finally, the report states that there were 191 million migrants in 2005, with 115 million of them living in the developed world and 75 million of them in developing countries.  High-income countries registered the highest increase, 41 million migrants between 1990 and 2005.  Three quarters of migrants live in 28 countries, with one in every five in the United States.  Migrants constitute at least 20 per cent of the population in 41 countries, 31 of which have less than a million inhabitants.  Half of the migrants are female and they are more numerous than males in developed countries.  Six of every ten international migrants live in high-income economies, 22 of which are developing countries, including Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Kuwait, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.  About a third of the total 191 million migrants have moved from one developing country to another, and another third from a developing to a developed country, meaning that South-to-South migrants are about as numerous as South-to-North migrants. 

    Also before the Assembly was a summary of its interactive hearings (document A/61/187) with representatives of non-governmental organizations and other civil society groups, as well as the private sector, held at Headquarters on 12 July.  Among its key findings is the expression of a strong interest in making the Dialogue work.  Participants emphasized the need for a rights-based approach in addressing the interrelations between migration and development.  Also underscored is the need for all relevant actors to be involved in protecting the rights of migrants and ensuring that migration has a positive impact on development, with better use made of the United Nations machinery towards those ends.

    The summary recognizes the importance of remittances and participants called for greater efforts to maximize their development potential.  Emphasis was placed on the need for a gender-sensitive approach to policies since women and girls account for about half of all international migrants.  The social consequences of migration also deserve more attention, including the emigration of highly skilled workers from developing countries.  The contributions of transnational communities were taken up and the Dialogue was viewed as an important opportunity to recognize and underscore the ways in which those communities could enhance the development prospects of origin countries.  Also underscored was the need for policies and programmes to promote the reintegration of returning migrants and to facilitate the use of skills learned abroad.  Origin countries and relevant partners should work to provide opportunities for sustainable livelihoods.  The participation of migrants in trade union and migrant organizations were identified as crucial to all aspects of labour migration, as was collaboration with the private sector.

    Opening Statement by General Assembly President

    Sheikha HAYA RASHED AL KHALIFA (Bahrain), President of the General Assembly, welcomed delegates to a historic meeting that would help mobilize political will and build more effective partnerships to realize the potential that migrants could have in developing both origin and destination countries while safeguarding their rights.

    She said migration had become a major aspect of modern societies in the face of globalization, with more than 191 million individuals living outside their home countries in 2005.  If harnessed effectively, migration could have a profound effect on development, as remittances sent back home could help reduce poverty.  On the other hand, the migration of skilled people from developing to developed countries could severely impede development.  Only through close cooperation among Member States, international institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector could the international community help ensure that the labour supply matched demand, that there would be a smooth transition for countries that had shifted from being primarily sources of migrants to destinations for them, and that migrants' rights, particularly migrant women's rights, were not exploited.

    Member States could work with interested parties to increase awareness of and strengthen existing international legal instruments that protected migrants, promoted integration and fought gender discrimination, she said.  They could also provide capacity-building for countries in need of technical assistance and work to mainstream migration into the Millennium Development Goals, while emphasizing the important economic role that migrant communities played, as well as the development potential of remittances.

    The United Nations had a crucial role to play in realizing the potential of international migration to underpin economic growth and development, she said.  Two days of dialogue were only the beginning of a process to improve policy on international migration, one highlight of which was the Secretary-General's recommendation to create a global forum on migration and development.

    Statement by Secretary-General

    KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said migration was a courageous expression of an individual's will to overcome diversity and live a better life.  While many people were excited about the ways in which migrants could help transform their adopted and native countries, however, international migration held negative aspects, such as trafficking, smuggling and social discontent, which frequently stemmed from poverty or political strife.  Delegates' participation in the Dialogue demonstrated their desire to tackle migration's challenges through dialogue and cooperation rather than antagonism and isolation.

    Citing three reasons why the time was right for the Dialogue, he said one was that all countries were facing the problem together.  A second factor was the evidence showing that the potential benefits of migration were increasing.  Remittances, for example, had reached an estimated $167 billion last year and the amount of money that migrants sent back to their families exceeded the total of all international aid combined.  Migrants also used their skills and know-how to transfer technology, capital and institutional knowledge.  In addition, they formed a dynamic human link between cultures, economies and societies.  Thirdly, Governments were starting to see international migration through the prism of opportunity rather than fear.

    He said that, for all those reasons, and because people migrated from every corner of the world to every other, international migration cried out for global discussion.  The proposed global forum on migration and development would let countries build relationships of trust and mesh the best ideas that various countries had developed, such as facilitating remittances, engaging diasporas, and exploring new ways to reduce poverty and build educational partnerships.  The forum must be led by the States, but the United Nations system was ready to support it.  To that end, the mandate of the Special Representative on Migration had been extended beyond the Dialogue.  He would provide an essential link between the proposed forum and the entire United Nations system.  Stating his readiness to create a voluntary trust fund to help support the forum's work, he added that the Global Migration Group, which he had created last spring, was bringing together United Nations offices, funds, programmes and agencies engaged in various aspects of global migration and development, as well as the IOM.  The High-Level Dialogue would succeed to the extent that it ushered in an era of sustained, thoughtful consideration of global migration and development issues.

    Statement by President of Economic and Social Council

    ALI HACHANI, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said that the United Nations meetings and conferences of the past few years had highlighted the benefits and challenges of international migration and, over the next two days, Member States would have the opportunity to discuss ways to better manage migration for the benefit of all.  There were many political options that could ensure those benefits, including the promotion of return migration, exposing migrant families to financial services and promoting remittances.  In all of that, it was necessary to ensure that policies and programmes addressed the basic needs of migrants and their families.

    On highly skilled migrants, particularly those working in the health sector, he said that international cooperation was definitely needed to ensure that skills were matched with labour -- both in sending and receiving countries -- and that socio-economic development in developing countries did not suffer.  It was also necessary to remain vigilant against the trafficking in persons, a scourge to which migrants often fell prey.  International migration could only be beneficial if the rights of migrants were respected.  With that in mind, the international community should take every opportunity to establish partnerships and promote the exchange of best practices and information on migrants and the phenomenon of international migration.  Overall, he hoped the Dialogue would shed light on ways the Council and the wider United Nations system could boost its efforts to ensure benefits and better management of migration, particularly towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals for all.

    On a point of order, the representative of Algeria asked if the African Plan of Action on International Migration and the African Common Position on International Migration, approved at the last African Union Summit, could be distributed to the delegations participating in the Dialogue.

    Statements

    DIDJOB DIVUNGI DI NIDINGE, Vice-President of Gabon, said that, more often than not, migration was caused by grinding poverty, conflict or economic recession.  In today's globalized world, with populations almost constantly on the move, it was, therefore, necessary to pay close attention to particular regions for destination, as well as receipt, which were facing those or other challenges, such as Africa's Canary Islands.  Gabon, unlike many developing countries, had become a country of destination.  And, while such flows were of increasing concern to developed countries in terms of hosting and integration capacity, as well as security, they were also of growing concern to small developing countries like Gabon.

    Huge flows of illegal migrants were also of concern, he said.  With that in mind, it was necessary for broad cooperation to build capacity in receiving countries, as well as to help find other solutions to ensure implementation of relevant plans of action to better regulate migration.  Such plans should also pay particular attention to the on-the-ground specificities facing countries dealing with uncontrolled migration.

    He said that, for a long time, Gabon had been "blacklisted" as a country complicit in the trafficking of children and migrant youth for sexual and economic exploitation.  That was not the case and, among other things, was a result of regional stereotyping. The Government had swung into action, holding meetings and diplomatic discussions to raise awareness about that evil practice and strengthen efforts to combat the scourge at the regional level.  At the same time, the international community must do more to address the problem.  He also called for a greater involvement of the IOM in regulating migratory flows to ensure that they were beneficial to both sending and receiving countries.

    NOSIVIWE MAPISA-NQAKULA, Minister of Home Affairs of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said the impact of international migration on economic and social development highlighted the complex relationship between underdevelopment, poverty, social exclusion and migration.  In order to meet internationally agreed development targets, including the Goals, Governments must intensify their focus on such issues as foreign direct investment, trade, foreign aid and debt relief so as to reverse patterns of underdevelopment, poverty and the flight of skilled workers.

    Migrants were at the core of the migration debate, she noted, adding that the protection of the human rights of migrants, workers and their families as outlined in United Nations, as well as International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, was a central component of comprehensive and balanced migration management.  The exploitation of migrants through trafficking and smuggling should be criminalized under domestic and international law, and social pathologies such as racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of related intolerance impacted negatively on development and must be eradicated.

    She urged delegates to acknowledge the important contribution that migrants made to their countries of destination, as well as those of the large number of female migrants.  Measures were needed to reduce the vulnerability, exploitation and abuse of female migrants.  Policies that empowered migrants should be endorsed and remittances should not be considered as a substitute for investment, trade, foreign aid and debt relief.  The debate should also focus on the complex relationship between migration and infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, and their impact on migrants' health.  Poor health among migrants compromised their lives and affected Government efforts to address poverty and underdevelopment.

    TARJA FILATOV, Minister of Labour of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, noted that the need for dialogue and cooperation between Governments and international organizations on migration and development were more important than ever in today's new era of international mobility.  The Union believed that migration, when managed effectively, could benefit both the countries of origin and destination, as well as the migrants, themselves.  The European Union was strongly committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which would help to address the root causes of migration.  Aspects related to international migration should become an integral part of the development agenda, with greater consideration given to how migration issues could be integrated into poverty reduction strategies and national development plans, and how donors could support their partners' priorities.

    She noted that migrants made positive contributions both to their countries of origin and destination, and that respect for the human rights and labour rights of migrants was essential.  Labour migration policies should be supported by integration measures, including equal treatment and the prohibition of discrimination.  The contributions of migrant women to the economy and society, and the risks they faced, must be recognized and properly recognized.  The European Union was committed to protecting migrants, particularly women and children, from violence, discrimination, trafficking, exploitation and abuse.

    The fight against illegal migration, particularly against trafficking and the smuggling of human beings was central to eradicating forced and bonded labour, she said.  States should enhance efforts to criminalize trafficking and smuggling, punish perpetrators of those crimes, and offer protection and rehabilitation to the victims of trafficking.  The Union stressed the importance of international and regional agreements which provided for cooperation on migration management, capacity-building and return.  All returns should be undertaken in a manner that was safe, dignified and humane, she emphasized.

    It was necessary to build sufficient capacity in countries of origin and transit, in order to institute effective migration policies that contributed to development.  "Circular migration" could play a useful role in fostering the transfer of skills and knowledge to developing countries, and should be promoted.  Policy responses to "brain drain" needed to be tailored to the particular challenges facing each affected country.  Such responses could consist of more ethical and disciplined recruitment policies to address the push-pull factors of migration.  The mobility of health workers was a key issue that must be addressed through comprehensive national policies, as well as international agreements and action.  Remittances were important for development, but should not be seen as a substitute for Official Development Assistance.

    Protection of refugees and internally displaced people formed an integral part of migration policy, and States must decide who enters and stays within their territories, in line with international law and obligations, she stressed.  Improved coordination between various United Nations agencies and other international and regional organizations dealing with migration was essential, and the proposed Global Forum on migration and development could be useful toward that goal.  That Forum should be informal, voluntary, non-binding, and driven by interested Member States and participants; however, it should be consultative and not produce negotiated outcomes.  Further, its work should be coordinated with that of the Global Migration Group.

    TONIO BORG, Deputy Prime Minister of Malta, said that in the middle decades of the last century, his country benefited directly from the economic and social advantages of migration in terms of easing unemployment and from the flow of money sent back.  Maltese migrants had left legally and in a controlled and well-managed manner.  Today, however, Malta -- one of the most densely populated countries in the world and located at Europe's southern-most tip, at the crossroads of migratory routes from Africa -- was confronted by the new and often tragic phenomenon of illegal immigration.

    That pressing problem, to which the report devoted only a limited section, called for a concerted response from all, he said.  Malta supported a holistic approach to the issue encompassing five separate elements:  comprehensive arrangements for the return, re-admission and reintegration of illegal immigrants to their countries of origin; improved efficiency and effectiveness of border management in origin and transit countries; elimination of human trafficking; improved management of illegal immigrants by transit countries; and better management in destination countries of migrants with genuine cause to migrate, as well as those countries' willingness to receive them.

    He recommended a number of specific actions as necessary first steps in devising a holistic and integrated approach to illegal immigration, among them, regular and constructive dialogue between origin and destination countries to strengthen cooperation and identify common solutions.  Generous development aid for the eradication of poverty in countries of origin should also be encouraged.  That aid could be tied to returns and re-admissions as an incentive to boost closer cooperation.  Closer security cooperation between destination, transit and origin countries was necessary to eradicate the smuggling and trafficking of humans.  Finally, a long-term, sustainable migration management approach must be adopted for the better integration of migrants into destination countries.

    PRIYA MANICKCHAND, Minister for Human Services and Social Security of Guyana, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said the realities of globalization had intensified the linkages and impacts of international migration, making the possible benefits and challenges that it proffered of greater significance and immediacy.  All countries were impacted by the phenomenon whether they were countries of origin, transit or destination.  Their own consistent endeavours to address the impact of international migration on their development were best complemented by greater international collaboration to address the multidimensional, multilayered and multisectoral nature of migration.  In the pursuit of sustainable development its effects could not be ignored.

    Outlining some priorities in dealing with migration, she said the often tenuous legal, social, economic and political status of migrants placed them at particular risk of their human rights being infringed.  The Rio Group supported the strengthening of multilateral and bilateral arrangements to protect those rights.  Countries must be helped to cope with the demands of migration and the multilateral framework for action must be strengthened to help them develop adequate and effective migration systems.

    She said the Rio Group supported the Secretary-General's proposed Global Consultative Forum on international migration, which constituted a useful interim arrangement to promote greater coherence in the absence of permanent mechanisms.   The Group was also committed to working with all countries to optimize the benefits of international migration for development.

    ULLA TORNAES, Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark, said migration was an intrinsic part of development, so there was a need to ensure that people were on the move for the right reasons.  Indeed, the number of people with the capacity and desire to move to other places had increased dramatically.  The international community was treading on new ground and there was a need for a better understanding of how those population flows could be better managed.

    Ultimately, the international community must pave the way for migration to be seen as a choice, both on the part of receiving and sending countries.  One sure thing was that uncontrolled migration was not the cure for development ills, she said.  Those flows sapped human and financial resources in small sending countries, and strained the economies and social infrastructures of many receiving countries.  There was also a need to ensure safe human returns.

    Regarding ways to help the development of home countries, persistent efforts by origin countries were needed to address the structural causes of migration.  Indeed, every Government should do everything possible to ensure a prosperous and stable environment in which people wanted to live.  But, a number of challenges in that regard were global and developing countries could not handle them alone.  To that end, a Danish-African initiative had been established to promote education on the African continent.  Emphasizing the importance of fair trade and reducing agricultural subsidies as ways to promote development in sending countries, she also called for further study of how migration policies could be integrated into poverty reduction strategies, and how donors could contribute specifically to migration plans and programmes in that regard.  Denmark saw the Dialogue as part of a new process and, delegations must ensure that the opportunity to discuss the matter openly and at a high level was not wasted.  The Dialogue should not be about the establishment of new structures but, about ways to enhance existing mechanisms, particularly regional structures, for action.  The Dialogue should also identify a future follow-up mechanism.

    MOENG R. PHETO, Minister for Labour and Home Affairs of Botswana, said the opportunity had come to deal openly with the root causes of migration and propose ways to manage it for the benefit of both origin and receiving States.  Botswana, for example, had recently moved from being one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country, which it could not have achieved alone.  Indeed, its population stood at a little over one million in 1993 and it was foreign professionals in different fields, as well as foreign investors, who had created much-needed employment opportunities.  Thousands of Batswana had also gone abroad for employment and study, some of whom had returned after acquiring expertise in different areas.

    However, the challenge lay in striking a balance between the interests of receiving and sending States, he said.  Unequal development within regions, as well as the varying challenges faced by countries in nation-building, upholding security and health meant that some faced more difficulties than others.  Indeed, some countries were compelled to divert their meagre resources from economic development to fighting AIDS, while losing healthy workers to developed countries.  Yet, migrants suffering from the disease -- on top of Botswana's own citizens -- could not very well be excluded from treatment.  Therefore, international collaborative efforts were needed to deal with all aspects of international migration.  The AIDS threat alone brought the need for such collaboration to the fore.

    CHAKIB BENMOUSSA, Minister of Interior of Morocco, said the United Nations was the most appropriate mechanism to carry out and coordinate the work of various agencies as they moved toward a balanced solution to global migration issues.  All nations would benefit from the Dialogue.  Morocco supported efforts to set up a Forum to work in that sensitive area and was also eager to see regional action.  Governments must work together to find structural solutions that would help migrants.

    He expressed the hope that Dialogue would help settle the economic aspects of the migrant issue.  Morocco was dedicated to stopping social exclusion and supported projects that would generate income and let exporting countries reduce the outflows of unlawful migrants.  The Dialogue could address the challenge of migration and find a successful solution to a difficult problem.

    OUMAR HAMADOUN DICKO, Minister for Malians Residing Abroad and African Integration of Mali, said not a day passed in which one did not see sad pictures in the media of immigrants suffering and dying on the road to their new homes.  But, the real scandal of migration -- often hidden from the wider public -- was in the economic and sexual exploitation of migrant women and children; in the unfair trade practices that wrecked development in poor countries; in the divisive and deceptive media and their portrayal of the West as an "El Dorado-like" paradise; in the shameless exploitation of clandestine immigrants working in poor and hazardous conditions for little money; and especially, in the huge commissions charged by institutions sending and receiving remittances.

    Calling particular attention to the issue of remittances, he said innovative financing was turning out to be a key way to promote sustainable development on many levels.  The international community must find better ways to ensure that those remittances supported development, particularly since they were estimated to be four times higher than official development assistance.  There was a need to ensure the productive investment of those funds to secure socio-economic development in sending regions.  Immigration by Africans took place mainly on their own continent, and of the nearly one billion Africans only two per cent lived in Europe.  Contrary to popular lore, a large portion of that migration was due to family reunification.  However, those figures were bound to increase in the coming years, particularly in light of the major demographic changes that were about to sweep the planet.

    On unfair trade practices and their relationship to migration and development, he called on the international community not to bury its head in the sand, to dedicate itself to finding ways to open up markets and to help boost the capacities of developing countries to participate on a level playing field.  As it sought to find ways to better manage migration, the international community must also combat smuggling and trafficking.  Mali also called for the strengthening of development cooperation, particularly in Africa, to end "brain drain", for the integration of trafficking issues into poverty reduction strategy papers, and for the creation of awareness-raising campaigns.  It was to be hoped that the roundtables taking place during the Dialogue would address such issues.  Delegations should consider sharing migration management and the potential wealth of migrants.  Mali supported the establishment of a Global Migration Forum to enhance dialogue among Governments and to ensure that migration was seen as a benefit and not a threat.

    LUIS ERNESTO DERBEZ BAUTISTA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, aligned himself with the Rio Group and said the increase in migration should be addressed in a holistic manner.  It was important to advance and have an inclusive discussion among origin and destination countries, and to adopt policies addressing the root causes and impacts of migration.

    While acknowledging the responsibility of Mexico and other origin countries to provide basic domestic conditions and better development opportunities for its citizens so as to reduce or prevent illegal migration, he said it was necessary to acknowledge the increasing linkages among the labour markets and the need to develop new schemes that allowed for the mobility of people.  However, all countries should fully respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants because many saw migration as a need and not a choice.  Migration could not be confined to issues of security, and Mexico rejected all approaches that envisaged the migrant as a criminal.

    MOHAMMED LUFTOR RAHMAN KHAN AZAD, Minister of State for Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment of Bangladesh, noted that more liberal migration policies by receiving States could benefit both the host and sending countries, as well as the migrants.  If poor, unskilled and unemployed sections of society could get cross-border access with less hindrance, that would help achieve the Millennium Development Goal of poverty eradication.

    Noting that migrant workers bore high economic, social and political costs and were vulnerable to exploitation, he said women migrants were generally placed in low-paid household services.  Efforts were needed to eliminate exploitation and discrimination, and to ensure fair treatment, decent work, a minimum wage and recognition of their status.  It was necessary to protect the basic human rights of all migrant workers and their families, including those without proper documents.

    Describing Bangladesh as a labour-surplus country, with some 250,000 migrants leaving the country each year, he said the Government had adopted a comprehensive, gender-sensitive Overseas Employment Policy focused on protecting the rights of expatriate workers at home and abroad, preserving existing job markets and exploring new ones.  The Government was collaborating with civil society, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to properly manage migration.  In order to help ensure safe migration opportunities, the Government was taking steps to extend pre-departure orientation and pre-employment training for potential migrants.  New opportunities were being created for female migrant workers.

    Bangladesh was also seeking a regime to facilitate the movement of temporary service providers.  The international community should liberalize markets for service providers, and members of labour-sending countries could set up a negotiating forum on that issue.

    MEHMET AYDIN, Minister of State of Turkey, noted that the current "migration predicament" had become a very sensitive issue not only in terms of economic development but also in terms of world security and peace.  Immigrant populations faced difficulties in accessing education, housing and job opportunities, in addition to racism and cultural discrimination.  Without adequate rights and freedoms, immigrant communities were more likely to feel alienated.

    He said that Turkey, as a country of origin, transit and destination for migrants, stood ready to work with the international community on those issues and supported the establishment of a consultative forum on migration as recommended by the Secretary-General.  Destination countries should liberalize their restrictive immigration policies, which only allowed admission for well-educated, highly-skilled migrants; promote investment projects to employ unskilled workers within their country of origin; and ratify international conventions which guaranteed migrants' human rights, including the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.  Effective international cooperation on the prevention of abuse of immigrants and on illegal migration and trafficking of human beings should be among the priority targets.

    ARTURO D. BRION, Secretary of Labour and Employment, Philippines, said that the experience of international migration had long been of importance to his country because of the overseas employment programme it launched in 1974.  Since 1995, the Philippines had used a legal and institutional framework to give its overseas workers minimum standards for their employment and eventual reintegration upon their return to the country.

    He said that viewing migration as a positive response to a country's needs was a significant step towards helping countries to cooperate in addressing the complex issues.  In the area of development, countries of origin and destination should work to nurture and replenish migrants.  Countries assisting migrants should facilitate the flow of remittances and assist the return of migrants to their home countries when their full economic utility had diminished. 

    All States should protect the human rights of migrants, in order to fully reap the developmental benefits of migration, he said.  States could achieve that goal by ratifying and taking measures to implement existing legal instruments related to migrants, their families and the rights they enjoyed.  Special attention should be given to women and children, who were vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, discrimination and human trafficking.  The human face of migration must be considered, above all else.

    KONSTANTIN O. ROMODANOVSKY, Director, Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation, said his country had the second-largest number of international migrants, according to United Nations data, and was a hub for various migration flows.  As a major receiving centre and transit point for migrants, Russia's four priorities were ensuring the best conditions for the promotion of common law standards; protecting human rights; enforcing law and order and rule of law; and ensuring maximum benefits from migration in the economic, political, social and demographic areas.  Russia was working to make itself attractive for migrants as it adopted measures to counter illegal migration.

    The country had about 10 million illegal migrants, many of them citizens of the former Soviet Union and of countries with small labour markets, he said.  Illegal migration could not be contained through repressive and restrictive methods alone, and the Government was working to create new and flexible legislative tools.  Russia regarded illegal migration as a threat to its national security and estimated that the economic damage, in the form of non-payment of taxes, totalled more than $8 billion annually.  Migrants from the Commonwealth of Independent States exported more than $10 billion from Russia as they bypassed State control procedures.  Meanwhile, the volume of registered money transfers made by citizens of those countries totalled more than $3 billion in 2005.  Those statistics showed the value of IOM efforts to improve the data-gathering systems relating to remittances and the use of the funds.

    He said his country was well aware that it could not combat illegal immigration on its own and that joint efforts with foreign partners were needed to achieve significant results.  The Dialogue was a relevant way to find a mutually beneficial solution to problems relating to labour migration.  All participants should cooperate in a responsible manner and share the burdens of migration equally.  At the same time, all nations must work to maximize migration's beneficial effects on globalization and integration.

    ABDELKADER MESSAHEL, Minister Delegate to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in Charge of Maghreb and African Affairs of Algeria, said that one reason for his country's great interest in migration issues was the existence of a large Algerian community abroad.  The fate of that diaspora was a matter of concern, and Algeria intended to work with other countries to protect their dignity, defend their rights, and protect them from xenophobia and racism.

    Secondly, Algeria, situated between the rich North and the poor South, had naturally become a country of transit for migrants, the majority of which arrived illegally, he said.  That had led to a wide range of social, economic, health and security problems.  Difficulties in securing visas had given rise to increased illegal immigration.  Thirdly, Algeria was increasingly becoming a destination country for migrants, which placed great burdens on the national economy.  Those migrants came from around 42 countries, mostly from Africa.  Appropriate solutions for South-South migration were needed, and the relationship between migration and development should be considered a central issue.

    Fourthly, Algeria was suffering from a "brain drain" that deprived it of its most important resource -- human capital, he said.  Many developed countries encouraged that outflow, and a solution must be found to protect the right to development of countries in the South.

    Efforts to combat illegal migration and transnational networks of traffickers should also be stepped up.  However, dealing with migration only from a security angle could undermine the welfare of millions of migrants, entailing violations of their fundamental rights.  The common position on migration adopted by the African Union at its Banjul summit constituted a road map for the continent and could provide a useful input for the present Dialogue.

    BILLIE A. MILLER, Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, said the new era of international migration underscored the link between migration and development.  Caribbean countries ranked among the top 30 countries in remittance flows as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).  Remittances from Caribbean nationals, which had grown from $400 million in the early 1990s to about $4 billion in 2002, exceeded both foreign direct investment and official development assistance (ODA) for the region as a whole.  However, those were private funds destined for families and should not be viewed as a replacement for official development aid and development financing.  Neither should financial remittances be considered a substitute for the funding of national development efforts.

    The Caribbean region had the highest migration rate into countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in proportion to its labour force, she continued, citing concern over the serious implications for development gains as a result of the exodus of valuable skilled professionals from the region.  Destination countries should invest in both training and strengthening those sectors from which they recruited personnel in source countries.  There was an important positive symbiotic element to the movement of service providers across borders.  On the part of destination countries, migrants made an important contribution to the building of economies and societies.  As for the source countries, there was the possibility of "remittances of expertise", whereby immigrants returned home with enhanced capacity and abilities that would redound positively to national development efforts.

    FRANCISCO LAINEZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, said international migration must be addressed in a broad and comprehensive manner that focused on social issues, rights and obligations, legal assistance, legislation, analysis and research, among other things.  That should be accompanied by adequate global oversight provided by the United Nations system.  El Salvador called for a multidimensional tack with a special focus on the human element of the phenomenon in both sending and receiving countries.  South American countries were actively trying to integrate migration concerns into their national development strategies.  The region was focusing on protecting the most vulnerable migrants, enhancing integration measures and structures, and stepping up efforts to combat smuggling and trafficking.  Regional efforts had also been aimed at information sharing and the exchange of innovative ideas, as well as best practices.

    He said that increased movement of workers between countries not only boosted revenues but also ensured that the distribution of those revenues was more equitable.  Speaking next on behalf of the Regional Conference on Migration, which had striven to support positive migration in its 10-year existence, he said projects it had launched included awareness-raising campaigns on illegal migrants and trafficking.  The Conference had also called for special attention to migrants injured or disabled during migration.  It had also called for enhanced information on and analysis of international migration.  Reverting to his national capacity, he called on the Dialogue to appropriately analyse international migration and ensure that it benefited all countries and enhanced mutual international relations.

    POPANE LEBESA, Minister of Public Works and Transport of Lesotho, said that the issue of migration had never been as important as it was today.  It was a fact that migration had both very positive impacts and overwhelming challenges, and therefore, the international community's commitment and cooperation was of utmost importance.

    He recommended that the information and movement of persons be addressed in a way that increased global economic efficiency, and that effective policies be put in place to address illegal migration, including human trafficking.  Migration had brought economic benefits to both Lesotho and South Africa, as Lesotho had continued to be a main supplier of migrant labour to neighbouring South Africa.  Remittances were among the important economic benefits, but those should not be seen as a substitute for foreign direct investment, trade, overseas development assistance, or debt relief.  He noted the relationship between international migration and infectious diseases such as HIV and AIDS, and he emphasized the need for in-depth research to demonstrate the link between the two.  Regional Consultative Processes such as the Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa, were also important in fostering dialogue and mutual understanding.

    AMANDA VANSTONE, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs of Australia, said the challenge for States was how best to govern flows of people in a way that achieved the greatest benefit for all parties concerned -- sending and receiving States, as well as migrants themselves.  Australia welcomed the current Dialogue, in addition to discussions taking place in many other forums, as providing States with an opportunity to take stock of better practices and to learn from each other's perspectives and experiences.  Over the past decade, Australia had welcomed nearly 1 million people as permanent residents.

    She said her country's experience had convinced it that well managed migration was the best way to ensure that migration resulted in the greatest benefits for all concerned and, more importantly, to reduce many of the tragic abuses now associated with irregular migration.  Australia was also convinced that well-designed national migration policies, backed by effective administrative capacity, opened up opportunities for nation-building and development.

    IOM, with its unparalleled breadth, depth of experience in migration matters and worldwide reach, was ideally placed to be the prime vehicle for worldwide capacity building, she said.  Australia conducted a number of programmes with partner countries in the Asia-Pacific region to help build capacities to reap the benefits of orderly migration and curb the abuses associated with irregular migration.  It favoured the bringing together of heads of regional migration processes on an annual basis as the most effective form of global dialogue, rather than creating any new, and possibly artificial, forum.

    NICHOLAS GOCHE, Minister for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare of Zimbabwe, said he hoped the Dialogue would boost international efforts to map out concrete and practical strategies to turn international migration into a development tool that was beneficial to all, particularly developing countries.  The perceived benefits of global migration to those countries should go beyond remittances, which did not compensate a country for the loss of much-needed skilled and profession personnel.  Developing countries needed to create policies and measures that would let them reap the development benefits of migration.  Those measures, which should also target citizens living abroad, would include making the cost of remittance less expensive, creating development funds into which non-residents could contribute, and encouraging non-residents to invest in designated sectors of the economy.

    The other side of migration related to irregular and undocumented migrants involved in illegal border crossings, he said.  They were vulnerable to all types of exploitation and human rights abuses and formed the majority of economic refugees.  Measures, including bilateral and multilateral initiatives, were needed to ensure their protection and humane treatment.  Measures were also needed to address xenophobia, one of the biggest challenges of modern times, by raising public awareness of such tendencies.  Only internationally agreed strategies and programmes would address the challenges posed by international migration and maximize the opportunities for development.

    ALI ABDULLAH AL-KAABI, Minister of Labour of the United Arab Emirates, said that, when international migration was regulated in a thoughtful manner, it could provide social benefits and gains for all parties.  Since the flow of oil had begun in his country, the State had opted to import foreign labour to help build up the infrastructure.  The State had established a partnership with labour-exporting countries, notably the developing ones, to help invigorate their economies and implement their development programmes.  It was estimated that external remittances amounted to $22 billion annually.

    As expatriate labour represented approximately 90 per cent of the country's work force, with remittances accounting for 8-9.5 per cent of its GDP, he said, the United Arab Emirates had put forth a set of laws and regulations ensuring that guest workers were temporary, and not permanent, immigrants.  Those laws had been made in accordance with mechanisms and procedures agreed upon by labour-importing, as well as labour-exporting countries, and ratified by the IOM.

    He said the United Arab Emirates had ratified nine international treaties on such issues as working hours, compulsory labour, equal wages, and minimum age for labour, as well as other regional and bilateral treaties.  One of the more prominent measures taken was one prohibiting the use of children under the age of 18 in camel racing.  In addition, construction companies were required to allow a noon break for labourers working under extreme summer heat.  The State would update and reform its laws in response to developments and changes in the market, so that it could achieve desired economic transformations that would ensure the utmost benefits for all stakeholders.

    E. AHAMED, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, said that international migration was inevitable in the context of globalization.  That presented challenges and opportunities, including a greater demand for specialists in developed countries to strengthen their international competitiveness.  According to the World Bank's 2006 report on Global Economic Prospects, a rise in migration from developing countries raised incomes of natives in high-income countries.  Developed countries would benefit by greater openness in allowing the movement of natural persons across national frontiers.

    Also, he said, high-income countries must address legitimate needs of migrants, including the receipt of pensions and social security to which they had contributed.  The lack of appropriate or matching structures in the country of origin was no excuse for denying benefits.  Efforts should also be made to reduce the cost of remittances to short-duration migrants.  Creating reliable domestic institutions would encourage migrants to return to countries of origin with skills or capital acquired overseas.  "Brain drain" could thereby be translated into an overall gain.

    Finally, he said, the problem of irregular migration needed to be addressed collectively, since it was a cause for concern for the collective well-being.  The serious security implications presented by the practice included the use of irregular migrants as instruments for cross-border terrorism and for creating social tension in the host country.  Firm resolve must also be shown in tackling the scourges of people smuggling and trafficking.

    AIAHA ABDEL HADY, Minister for Manpower and Migration of Egypt, said the Dialogue was vital to the debate on the relationship between migration and development in all dimensions.  It was to be hoped that practical mechanisms and methods could be created to maximize the benefits of migration and minimize its negative effects.  All countries were responsible for the protection and preservation of the rights of migrant workers and their families according to national legislation and international laws.

    He said all countries should combat human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants while strengthening measures to protect and preserve the human rights of migrants and their families against all forms of discrimination.  Egypt also advocated international cooperation to help promote the necessary measures to assist the successful integration of migrants into receiving countries.

    To stem the phenomenon of brain drain, he said, Egypt advocated measures to compensate origin countries for the drain inflicted on them as a result of the migration of highly-skilled labour.  Egypt supported the recommendations of the report by the International Commission on Migration and Development, particularly with regard to directing joint-venture projects and foreign assistance to the sectors and countries that were most affected by the migration of highly-skilled labour.

    VILIJA BLINKEVIČIŪTĖ, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour of Lithuania, said the Dialogue offered an opportunity to discuss the relationship between migration and development policies, which were important in the European setting, as well as globally.  Migration policies had contributed positively to the attainment of development goals and could contribute to achieving the Millennium targets.  Major emigration from Lithuania after 1992 had helped lower unemployment and raise wages, but with the country now suffering from a labour shortage, the country had seen an increase in the employment of non-European Union nationals. 

    She said that her country, having experienced immigration as well as emigration, hoped to develop a single tool for the effective management of economic migration issues in all areas of concern -- business environment, labour market, human resources, health protection, and improving the Lithuanian economy.  Attention had also been devoted to preventing illegal trafficking, and skilled Lithuanians had been encouraged to return.  Close international cooperation and the exchange of best practices had helped ensure that migration had a positive influence on development.

    MICHAEL R.C. BROWNE, Minister of National Mobilisation, Social Development and Local Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that, although his country was tiny, it had much historical experience with migration.  His country's approach to migration was "essentially humanist", thereby demanding an appreciation of the push, underdevelopment, and pull, development, factors at work.  In light of that, issues of economic exploitation should be part of the Dialogue.  Overall, the humanist perspective required that the migration issue be addressed within the framework of a reconfiguration of the world's resources. 

    Regarding barriers on emigrants, he said that appropriate protocols should be established, particularly since emigrants included well-trained nationals.  His country had been very involved in developing the Commonwealth Teacher Recruitment Protocol in 2001, and had adopted the Commonwealth Code of Practice for the International Recruitment of Health Workers in 2003.  The matter of protocols should be a focal point of the migration discussion.

    He stressed that immigration issues were further compounded by problems of security.  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines operated under the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which made provisions for the movement of nationals of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).  His country also supported the intent of the April 2006 Brussels Declaration of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries on the issue. 

    JEAN DE DIEU SOMDA, Minister of Regional Cooperation of Burkina Faso, said that the first-ever dialogue on migration issues at the United Nations would go down in history, as it would provide a framework for cooperation on the issue.  His country had about 12 million people, with one third of the population living abroad.  It was not through control measures that the problem could be solved -- it was by addressing the root causes of migration.  Migration and development were linked.  In fact, developed countries must understand that the best way to address migration was to assist in the development of the countries of origin.

    He said that major causes of migration included poverty and lack of jobs and opportunities for people.  His country had undertaken a number of actions to better manage migration at the national level.  Those included introduction of a strategic framework for reducing poverty, measures to promote youth employment and vocational training, as well as an irrigation project to allow planting off season, and the holding of a national symposium on the national migration policy.

    He added that it would be an illusion to think that migration could be stopped in today's globalized world.  Instead, it should be managed.  "Let us therefore take this valuable opportunity to lay the foundation of the type of cooperation to promote responsible management of migration", he said. International migration should no longer be a scourge, but an important factor in the development of nations.

    BARBRO HOLMBERG, Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy of Sweden, said migrants were not victims, but they were made victims by human smugglers and traffickers.  To reach the whole development potential of migration, it was necessary to fight those who treated men, women and children as if they were goods on a market that could be sold to the highest bidder.  There were five important issues for Sweden.  First, people living and working in a country, regardless of whether they were migrant workers or citizens, should have the same rights and obligations.  The options for legal migration must be increased as irregular migration left people with limited rights and no safety.  If employers or rich countries needed labour they should be ready to pay for it.  This was not only about managing migration, but about values and human rights.

    Second, progressive development policies were needed to address the root causes of forced migration, she said.  Freer and fairer trade would have a far-reaching effect on development and poverty reduction in the world.  Third, the right to asylum must be preserved, and fourth, it should be easier for people to move from one country and then back again.  People brought knowledge and there was a brain gain.  Moreover, migration brought prosperity in terms of the money sent back to their families.  Finally, it was crucial for States to have a forum where they could continue the process begun by the High-level Dialogue.

    ALICIA MUÑOZ, Minister of Government of Bolivia, said that, in her country, migration had an indigenous face.  Out of a population of 10 million, 20 per cent lived outside the country and most were indigenous.  As stated by President Evo Morales Aima at a recent European Parliament meeting, migration was the result of economic inequalities between nations.  In Bolivia, such migration had negative impacts on the system, around which indigenous and peasant economies were organized and had resulted in their depopulation.  Management of natural resources, often the domain of indigenous people, had also been affected. 

    She said that, although it was true that remittances from overseas workers were considerable, their continuing outward migration contributed to the break-up of their communities.  Furthermore, the globalization of work was not accompanied by a commensurate rise in salaries or the improvement of workers' rights.  Indeed, Bolivia did not question the right to immigration; rather it was the absence of regulations and procedures to protect the rights of migrant workers and their families that were worrisome.  Also, women were especially vulnerable to labour and sexual exploitation, since the sex industry was the most profitable after drug trafficking.  Thus, legal measures should be adopted to eliminate the demand for such trade.  For its part, Bolivia had created laws governing the trafficking of individuals through a process involving an inter-ministerial council on immigration as well as civil society.  In addition, Bolivia had developed economic policies to generate new sources of work, so that its citizens need never leave their home or sacrifice their cultural identity in order "To Live Well", which was the Government's motto on migration.

    NG ENG HEN, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Defence of Singapore, said that his country had welcomed foreign manpower to bolster its own workforce.  One in four workers in Singapore was foreign.  Without migrant labour, the country's economic growth would have been stymied. 

    He emphasized that, because Singapore is a small country, it had regulated the manner of foreign workers' participation.  For example, it had taken a tough stance against immigration offenders, including human traffickers and smugglers.  At the same time, foreign nationals were protected under Singapore's laws and, in some cases, at a greater level than Singaporean nationals.  In addition, outreach had been stepped up to inform foreign workers of their rights. 

    He called on source countries to do their part to educate workers on their rights and responsibilities, and to curb exploitative recruitment.  Dialogue between States receiving and sending workers helped regulation of migration, and the United Nations Dialogue could help build a common framework.

    GARBA LOMPO, President of the Human Rights Commission of Niger, warned that the phenomenon of migration at the start of the twenty-first century had acquired disturbing proportions, and posed serious economic, social, political, and security challenges.  A major problem facing States in general, and Niger in particular, was the drastic lack of means to combat illegal migration more effectively.  Niger, with its pivotal position between sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa, and its porous borders, was the gateway for tens of thousands of potential migrants.  Those migrants were becoming easy prey for criminal groups specializing in human trafficking.  As it was often difficult to determine whether or not individuals were victims of trafficking, it was necessary to deal with all transit migrants in a way that ensured the protection of their fundamental rights.

    He stressed the importance of developing systems based on State responsibility, involving the countries of origin, transit, and destination. Niger, conscious of its role as a transit country, recommended the establishment of an efficient mechanism to combat clandestine immigration and trafficking in human beings, while protecting the rights of migrants.  Stronger policies were also needed within bilateral and multilateral frameworks.

    HAMID AWALUDIN, Minister for Law and Human Rights of Indonesia, stressed the need to understand in greater detail the impacts and multidimensional nature of migration.  Towards that goal, he endorsed the proposal to put in place a comprehensive global research and database system.  A global forum on migration at the United Nations must involve all Member States and complement the efforts of governments, international organisations, civil society, business and non-governmental organisations.  "A common and global set of priorities" should be promoted to ensure effective coordination of government efforts at the international, regional and national levels.

    He stressed the importance of human dignity, saying it should not be compromised by short-sighted concerns at border entry points.  Moreover, migrants aspiring to a better life abroad should never become prey to clandestine criminal groups.  Indonesia was now in the final stages of adopting new legislation to combat the trafficking in human beings.  It also endorsed policies that empower migrants, such as microfinance programmes that encouraged entrepreneurship.  For Indonesia, "ensuring the orderly flow and protection of migrant workers continues to be a top priority", he said, adding, "we should make migration a positive force of globalisation."

    EMILIYA MASLAROVA, Minister of Labour and Social Policy of Bulgaria, said that, as an external border country of the European Union, Bulgaria was interested in creating an instrument for the integrated management of migration processes.  However, to avoid duplication of structures and activities, coordination should be improved between the United Nations Organisation and other relevant international organizations.

    In August, she continued, a Gallup poll had been conducted in her country on attitudes towards migration, in anticipation of both the Dialogue and the forthcoming accession of the country to the European Union.  The poll revealed that the number of people willing to emigrate for the long term had decreased since the accession process had been set in motion.  Further, less than 4,000 people had expressed the desire to work in European member States during the first year of accession.  Their preferences were to work in Spain, Germany, United States, Greece, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland and France, in that order.  That migratory pattern was comparable to the behaviour of other European Union countries, as was the unemployment rate of 8.76 per cent, which often motivated migration.

    MOHD RADZI SHEIKH AHMAD, Minister of Home Affairs of Malaysia, said that Malaysia, as a strategically located country in the region, was all too aware of the role that migration could play in the development process, as well as the difficulties that it posed.  Malaysia's foreign worker policy was premised on the need to manage migration in cooperation with source countries.  Increasing numbers of migrant workers had given rise to cases of highly communicable diseases, such as hepatitis B, tuberculosis and leprosy, all of which were previously under control or eradicated.  Also, the number of crimes committed by migrants had increased three-fold, from 1,333 in 1992 to 3,113 in 2002.

    He said his Government had taken various preventive measures to curb illegal migration, including through the introduction of the Malaysian readable passport in 2002.  On the issue of remittances, Malaysia imposed no restrictions on workers sending money back home.  While Malaysia had made some inroads in addressing the issue of trafficking in persons, two major difficulties existed: first, distinguishing between genuine victims and those who knowingly allowed themselves to be trafficked for economic gain; and, second, was the lack of resources for destination countries to repatriate the victims on a voluntary basis.

    AFTAB AHMAD KHAN SHERPAO, Federal Minister for the Interior, Pakistan, aligned his remarks with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.  He said that migration had positive potential, particularly through the impact of remittances on poverty reduction, foreign exchange reserves, balance of payments, knowledge and skills transfer, relief from unemployment, empowerment of women, and democratization.  These benefits went to both sending and receiving countries, and, therefore, required bilateral, regional, and global cooperation, particularly in the areas of facilitation of remittances and protection of workers' rights.

    Appropriate institutions were also needed for effective international policy on migration, he urged.  He favored building on existing arrangements, particularly allowing the Global Migration Group to meet on an inter-governmental basis, under the authority of ECOSOC.

    ALI S.J. ERRICHI, Secretary for Expatriates, Immigrants and Refugees Affairsof Libya, said that although migration into sovereign spaces was one of the main engines of material and intellectual progress, it could not be constructive unless cultural, legal and political realities were examined.  In that regard, it was imperative that the international community agree on mechanisms that recognized the rights of sovereign States to protect their borders, while also respecting the human rights of immigrants.

    He noted that the cost of chaotic, illegal migration could outweigh its benefits, and even threaten national security, in certain countries.  As citizens saw the number of illegal immigrants increasing, they often felt that their economic, social and cultural interests were at risk.  That, in turn, could lead to political and social tensions that could result in civil unrest.  Furthermore, when the number of illegal immigrants exceeded the number of jobs available, illegal immigrants tended to engage in illicit economic activities, such as drug trafficking or organized crime.

    Libya intended to organize a meeting for African and European ministers to discuss the problem of illegal immigration and find solutions which could protect the rights, security and dignity of legal immigrants, he said.  The country had invested in agricultural and industrial products in a number of countries belonging to the African Union.  Libya had already invested $9 million worth of projects in some countries in the Sahel and Sahara grouping as well as establishing the Qaddafi Project for African youth in 2005. 

    D. SHANE GIBSON, Minister of Immigration, Labour and Training of the Bahamas, noting that his country was an archipelagic nation, said it was vulnerable in terms of policing its vast borders.  As an economy based principally on tourism and financial services, migration had had a positive impact on the Bahamas in many respects.  However, the country had also been plagued by illegal migration.  Illegal immigrants had become a serious burden on the social and educational services, as their numbers were not taken into account when planning for new schools and health services.  They had also become a serious national security issue, as some of those who entered the country were either convicted criminals or fugitives.  During his stay in New York, he intended to begin a dialogue with relevant States, with the aim of devising workable solutions to ease the burden of illegal immigration on receiving States.

    ERIK SOLHEIM, Minister of International Development of Norway, said that his country was no stranger to the evils of human trafficking, and had a high unemployment rate among its own immigrants.  Given the magnitude of the immigration problems in Southern Europe and along the borders of North America, migration should be at the top of the global agenda.

    At its core, migration, he said, was a positive development, so the debate should be laced with optimism.  The main global challenge in that regard was the contrast in living conditions.  There were two ways to proceed in linking migration and development: in the country of origin, there should be a choice to migrate or stay; and, when migrants arrived, their human rights should be protected and decent work should be offered.

    He pledged a number of steps to be taken by Norway to contribute to the challenges posed by accelerating migration flows: to formulate a comprehensive rights-based approach to development, as well as a gender-sensitive approach; to highlight the rights of migrant children and youth; to allow the circulation of human resources; to build upon the competence of migrant labour; to seek alliances and partnership with donor and recipient countries, which had established models that could be replicated; and, to open dialogue with financial institutions to reduce the transaction costs of remittances.  Norway's goal was to redistribute wealth on a global, regional, and national level, with standards on migration linked to that goal.

    ATHAUDA SENEVIRATNE, Minister of Labour Relations and Foreign Employment Leader of Sri Lanka, said that there was a convergence of views that migration was a development-friendly phenomenon, benefiting both countries of origin and destination.  He was concerned, however, that international emphasis and the focus of the current meeting on issues connected to migration had not placed an adequate stress on the need for a rights-based approach.  The international community had also failed to clearly define the linkages between economic growth, sustainable development and migration, and, thus, more work was needed in that regard.

    Among other matters for consideration, he mentioned policies in developed countries that favoured the admission of skilled workers, rather than low-skilled ones.  Developing countries could ill afford such brain drain.  At the same time, protection and treatment of workers was an issue of concern.  There were countless stories of victims of trafficking, female domestic workers in forced labour situations, non-payment of wages, poor working conditions and, growing racism and discrimination.  Female migrant workers were particularly vulnerable.  In some diaspora communities, there had also been an emergence of illegal activities and extortion from migrants for purposes of funding insurgent movements and terrorism in their home countries.

    There was a clear need for increasing international cooperation, he said. There was already a robust body of international conventions, and he called upon all States to ratify the United Nations Convention on migrant workers and members of their families.  To curb illegal migration, it was also necessary to provide opportunities for legal migration.  Participation of all stakeholders was required, including governments, social partners, civil society and migrants, themselves.  The international community should achieve greater coherence and coordination in its approaches.

    ZE'EV BOIM, Minister for Immigration and Absorption, Israel, said that the gathering of Jewish people in their own land through immigration was central to the national ethos of the Jewish people.  Of the 7 million people in Israel, more than 27 per cent were foreign born.  Those coming from such places as Russia, Ethiopia, France and South America experienced a process specifically tailored to their needs, which facilitated their absorption into Israeli society.  Integration began with learning Hebrew, the national language, through multiple frameworks, among which were full-time schools and online courses.  Immigrants were also given an "Absorption Basket", with a value of $10,000, to cover living expenses for the first six months.

    He said that vocational assistance was also available for immigrants, although some already came with advanced degrees and highly developed technical skills.  Indeed, many among them were doctors, engineers and scientists.  Others were artists, writers and musicians, leading to enrichment in arts and culture.  Throughout all of this, Israel had tried to respect the native culture of immigrant communities, resulting in a rich society built on multiculturalism, pluralism and tolerance.  In light of its experience in nurturing partnerships between origin communities, Israel shared its knowledge with international partners.  As a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol on Trafficking in Persons, Israel was currently working to meet the challenges those crimes presented.

    PAUL ANTOINE BOHOUN BOUABRE, Minister of State and Minister of Planning and Development of Côte d'Ivoire, pointed out that more than two in five people in his nation were migrants, and that 26 per cent of the overall population were foreign nationals, overwhelmingly from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  Economic factors had been driving cross-border migration.  But, while migration has contributed significantly to Côte d'Ivoire's development, it has also aggravated demographic pressure on farmland.  With less land to till, migration had become a factor in intra- and inter-communal conflict.  The socio-political and military crisis in Cote d'Ivoire since December 1999 had also worsened the situation of many migrants.

    Nevertheless, he said that Côte d'Ivoire intended to remain welcoming to migrants.  He proposed that migration top the agenda of urgent issues for the West African region to tackle.  To confront the challenges of sustainable development, African nations needed to be modern States and, in the context of subregional economic integration and aggressive globalization, Côte d'Ivoire could only depend on itself.

    ALBERT KAN DAPAAH, Minister for the Interior of Ghana, said that Ghana supported calls for the promotion of return programmes in countries of origin, as well as of destination to help transfer back knowledge and skills.  It also supported the promotion of recruitment practices that countered brain drain through development assistance in education and training.  Mechanisms, strategies and policy frameworks were needed to significantly lower the costs of remittances of migrants and improve their access to banking systems.  Migrants should also be offered low-rate credit schemes and feasible investment options, which could have an impact on a wide scale.  Ghana had made very important strides in that regard, with a boom in real estate attributable to the increases in remittances of migrants over the past five years -- from a low of $300 million in 2002 to about $1.2 billion in 2005.

    He also said that the world was witnessing an increasing feminization of migration, with serious social consequences within countries of origin and with critical implications for migration management, especially protection of female migrants.  Ghana had adopted a Human Trafficking Law in 2005 and had established a national task force for its implementation.  It was also a signatory to the ECOWAS Declaration and Plan of Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, adopted in Dakar, Senegal, in 2003.

    Ghana welcomed the Secretary-General's proposal for the promotion of a follow-up mechanism to the High-Level Dialogue to maintain focus on the migration and development debate, he said. It acknowledged the immense contribution of the International Organization for Migration in shaping the agenda for the management of migration and recommended its participation in any follow-up mechanism.  His country also supported the inclusion of the Global Migration Group in that effort.

    RALPH H. FONSECA, Minister of Home Affairs and Public Utilities of Belize, said that migration flows had transformed the social and demographic composition of his country, moving it from a majority Afro-Caribbean population to one with a Mestizo ethnic majority.  The Government's policies, along with assistance from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), had ensured the successful assimilation new Belizeans, facilitating access to arable land for farmers and providing free education and primary health care.  A refugee department had been established to process the large number of refugees, and the labour department had increased the number of employment permits granted.  In 1999, an amnesty programme allowed undocumented migrants and recent arrivals to apply for permanent residency.  Indeed, higher qualified people from Asia and North America were coming in, while highly qualified natives, particularly women, were moving out.

    He said that policies for enhancing migration's contribution to development, while reducing its negative impacts, must place the human dimension at its core.  Towards that goal, universal support for human rights instruments and international labour instruments must be encouraged.  Also, although shaping migration policies was a State's sovereign right, States must nevertheless coordinate their actions.  As such, Belize fully endorsed the creation of a multilateral mechanism for effective multilateral cooperation to address international migration.

    JEAN GÉNÉUS, Minister for Haitians Living Abroad, Haiti, said the challenges of migration and development were evident in his country, which was a major source of international migration.  More needed to be done to maximize the potential of migration to reduce poverty and strengthen development in Haiti.  Migration had had many positive effects, including the promotion of economic liberalization of migrant women, which should be supported.  Migration also had contributed to the reduction of poverty in Haiti, with remittances bringing in $1 billion, or more than 25 per cent of GDP.

    He said, however, that the problem of illegal entry into destination countries must be addressed.  States must also protect the rights of migrants, particularly women, who were vulnerable to abuse.  States also needed to tackle the crucial question of brain drain, as that loss of human capital hindered the development of social services and the private sector.  Haiti sought to work with destination countries to encourage migrants to contribute to knowledge-sharing with countries of origin.

    His Government, with the support of IOM, had set up a ministerial group to develop a comprehensive migration policy, and it would encourage the further involvement of the private sector, civil society, and the diaspora community, he said.  International migration called for bilateral and multilateral solutions that would be mutually beneficial.  Thus, Haiti supported the proposal for a global forum on migration.

    NICOLAS SCHMIT, Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of Luxembourg, said that the dramatic scenes involving immigration in the Mediterranean were insupportable, urging a concerted effort to find solutions.  Migration prompted by despair should be eliminated.  Forty per cent of the population in Luxembourg were migrants.  His Government understood, therefore, that migration required an appropriate regulatory policy.  Combating the clandestine immigration alone was not enough to stop the flow of migrants.

    He said that a long-term approach to eradicating poverty was also required, as that could contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  To make migration an instrument of development, remittances must be allowed to benefit migrants.  To boost the economies in the developing world, Luxembourg had also donated 0.87 per cent of its gross domestic product in development assistance, he noted.

    Better protection of the most vulnerable migrants was essential to combat trafficking, he said.  In all such efforts, the protection of human rights was crucial.  Also important was to provide information for the societies of the North about migration's benefit for ageing populations, in order to combat xenophobia, discrimination, and exclusion of migrant populations.

    SERGIY RUDYK, Minister and Head of the State Committee for Nationalities and Migration of Ukraine, aligning his statement with that of the European Union, shared the view of the Secretary-General that the international community should foster cooperation on the issue of migration to maximize its potential for development.  Ukraine had the fourth largest number of international migrants, according to United Nations statistics, due largely to its geopolitical position as a crossroads between the East and West, South and North.  Ukraine was both a source and destination country for migrants.  With the European Union bordering Ukraine, migration movements were likely to grow.  His Government had introduced measures to reduce illegal immigration, in accordance with international practice on applications for refugee status.

    He said that millions of Ukrainians were working abroad, although official data accounted for only about 56,000 of those migrants.  There was a clear need to facilitate legal migration in cooperation with countries of origin and receiving countries, in order to reduce irregular and illegal migration.  Ukraine had successfully implemented programmes to develop institutional capacity for migration management, with assistance from the European Union, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the International Organization for Migration.

    TARSIS BAZANA KABWEGYERE, Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees of Uganda, said that ensuring that labour movements were safe, humane, legal and orderly was in the interest of all stakeholders, including migrants, the Governments of both origin and destination countries, the private sector and civil society.  Increased transparency of the migration regulatory framework was needed, with remittances having become a significant source of global finance and a potential driver of economic growth in developing countries such as Uganda.

    Outlining Uganda's experience in managing migration issues, he said that the African nation had put progressive refugee legislation in place to give refugees a dignified and productive life by letting them access land and obtain work.   Uganda also had been involved in regional efforts to resolve the displacement of people in the Great Lakes region, such as through its chairmanship of the successfully completed Burundi peace talks.  With the IOM programme, "Return of Qualified African Nationals", Uganda had been able to secure jobs for some of the country's highly qualified Ugandans, who had returned after fleeing the country.

    Through the East African Community and IOM, and with the support of the United States Government, Uganda had implemented a migration management programme in which border officials acquired the necessary training and equipment to manage migration, he said.

    JUMA ALIFA NGASONGWA, Minister for Planning, Economy and Empowerment of the United Republic of Tanzania, said that, for his Government, international migration and development was a new area that it was trying to understand.  The current rising trend of migration was due to many factors, such as rapid globalization, advances in transport, communication and technology, demographics and armed conflict.  Internal migration only made the issue more complex, he added.

    He said that managing migration called for a coordinated multisectorial approach in compliance with international human rights standards.  He emphasized international cooperation and capacity-building support in such areas as promoting policy coherence, advocacy and communication of information on safe and legal migration, the prevention and elimination of human trafficking, and promotion of respect for the human rights of migrants and their families.  Remittances by migrant workers, while significant, could not replace overseas development assistance.  His country was also concerned about a brain drain of skilled migrants, and by a "brain waste", which concerned the inefficient use of the talents of those who did go abroad.

    AIGUL RYSKULOVA, Chairperson of the State Committee on Migration and Employment of Kyrgyzstan, said the Dialogue was important for outlining the course of future developments concerning migration policies, which was an important national concern of all States today.  Developed and developing countries were setting out coherent policies.  Kyrgyzstan, like other countries entering into the market economy, had received many migrants recently.  The objective of the State's migration policy was to establish conditions beneficial to both the local society and the State as a whole.

    A number of challenges came along with the positive benefits of migration, she continued.  One of those was in the area of human rights, a complex matter in relation to migration since it intersected with the right to freedom of travel.  Actions taken to protect the rights of migrants in Kyrgyzstan included the development of programmes to inform them of their rights and the establishment of assistance centres.  Steps were also being taken in the areas of education and the reduction of transaction costs to make it easier to start up small businesses.  In short, the national migration policy reflected world trends and experience regarding matters such as the regulation of border crossings and policies related to the people of Kyrgyzstan living abroad.

    ZH. ABDIYEV, Chairman of the Committee on Migration of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Kazakhstan, said that the gender aspect of migration and protection of the rights of migrant women were very important because women faced greater risks and discrimination.  Poverty, unemployment and limited development were root causes, he said, and to combat the risks to women, economic and social advancement of vulnerable groups, strengthening international cooperation, rehabilitation of victims of trafficking and severe punishment of criminals were important priorities.

    He described Kazakhstan as a country of destination, transit, and origin of migrants and outlined its efforts to address problems related to migration and the rights of migrants.  The nation's priorities included liberalizing the migration regime, including integration of international best practices and legalizing illegal migrant workers (which it was the first to do in the Commonwealth of Independent States); creating conditions for the return of ethnic Kazakhs (oralmans), with 530,000 already received; and attracting highly skilled workers.

    Finally, he said it was important to have high-level meetings on migration on an ongoing basis.  He hoped to further cooperation with the International Organization on Migration and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

    HANS WINKLER, State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Austria, said his country supported the European Union position on migration as delivered by Finland on behalf of the European Union.  There was an urgent need for policies that would have a positive impact on the ground, and the current Dialogue should be underpinned by concrete action at regional and subregional levels.  He referred to a Euro-African Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development which had taken place last July in Rabat, Morocco, and said the implementation of its plan of action would achieve concrete results.  That was urgently needed to better manage migratory flows and to prevent a humanitarian disaster, such as that witnessed in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic.  The European Union looked forward to the holding of a Pan-African conference on migration under the aegis of the African Union Commission.

    He said the South-South dimension of migration warranted particular attention.  Development cooperation could also contribute towards capacity-building in migration management.   Austria strongly advocated the incorporation of a gender perspective into all migration policies and strategies.  An effective and fruitful dialogue started with the exploration and understanding of one another's position.  The links between migration and development were complex, he said, but, when managed effectively, they could have a substantial positive impact on all the parties involved.  The issue of a follow-up was crucial, and Austria would be an effective participant in efforts to ensure that the issue was kept on the international agenda, he stated.

    MARTA ALTOLAGUIRRE, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said that Central America was a highly mobile region, and her country itself was a country of origin, as well as destination and transit country.  People were migrating not only to flee conflict but to improve their livelihoods.  Indeed, thousands of young people and women were now deciding to leave their homes in search of better lives, she said, calling for enhanced protection of those vulnerable populations, as well as improvements in family reunification measures.

    Guatemala welcomed the holding of the Dialogue as a chance to improve international cooperation on the matter and would stress that there was a joint responsibility -- on the part of countries of origin, as well as recipient countries -- to improve economic conditions, as well as to combat trafficking in human beings, she said.

    PRACHA GUNA-KASEM, Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, said that migration had been positive overall on a global basis and could enrich countries economically and socially when it was positively managed.  Thailand had, since 2004, worked to regularize 2 million illegal migrant workers, including providing them access to basic health services, and had helped Thai nationals seeking to migrate for work abroad.

    He described the rights-based and victim-centred approaches as essential to migration management, especially for women and children who faced unique risks.  Thailand had worked to encourage migrant workers to exercise their rights and have access to resources and remedies, and promoted the legal recruitment of workers.  He added that Thailand had worked at bilateral and regional levels throughout Asia to address migration-related problems.

    Finally, he supported the Secretary-General's proposal to consider the possibility of developing a Global Consultative Process within the United Nations beyond the current dialogue.

    KIYOHIKO TOYAMA, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said it was essential for any society to be fair in the way it received and treated people from other countries.  Societies should promote cultural diversity and strive for openness, flexibility and more mobile workforces.  Migrants, in turn, could contribute to the development of their countries of origin by gaining skills and engaging in economic activity.  Many issues must be resolved, however, in order for international migration to be of benefit to migrants and their countries of origin and destination.  For that to happen, countries must not only make efforts within their national frameworks, but also engage in international cooperation.  Therefore, the High-Level Dialogue was most timely.

    Japan believed that, in the interest of human security for all people, it was important to protect people who had been forced to leave their homes because of threats to their well-being and also empower them, so that they could better withstand adversity.  It was also important to protect people migrating in search of better lives and create the environment where they could realize their potential in accordance with law and regulations of countries of destination.  The basic precondition for creating a positive link between migration and development was to take action on both those fronts, paying particular attention to the needs of women, children and other vulnerable members of society.

    He said that Japan had implemented numerous projects in other countries aimed at empowering communities, where people had been forced to flee their homes due to conflicts, natural disasters, human trafficking, organized crime and other threats.  Those included aid for refugees and victims of human trafficking.   Japan also extended assistance to developing countries with a view to enhancing human resources in education and health.  For example, it had offered assistance in teacher and health providers' training and improvement of teaching manuals and curricula.  Among other things, in cooperation with United Nations Volunteers, Japan had also launched the Asia Youth Volunteers Programme for Africa.

    JOAO GOMES CRAVINHO, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal, said migratory flows were a widespread and positive experience in human history, and it was important to avoid falling into the trap of promoting policies that focused on a single aspect of the phenomenon regardless of unbalanced media portrayals.  Migration flows must be managed in a way that ensured that entry clearance for a migrant was synchronized with integration measures that prevented social exclusion and reinforced fair treatment before the law.  As a host country after many decades as a country of origin for migration, Portugal had become engaged in efforts to coordinate various sectors of public policies impacting on migration.

    Detailing those policies, he said significant migrant flows in Portugal came from the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, which, for historical reasons, were also the main recipients of Portuguese development assistance.  A conference would be held in October on the theme of migration.  Also, a joint working group was being formed to define common strategies between Portugal and Cape Verde on Cape-Verdean immigration in Portugal, which was a transit country for Cape-Verdean immigration to other countries.  Issues being addressed included those related to second-generation migrants.

    He said the issue of remittances and their contribution to the development of countries of origin should be better understood.  Portugal had promoted a study on the matter with the Inter-American Development Bank and was developing further work with partners.

    Finally, he said the dialogue between Europe and Africa was an extremely appropriate framework for placing migration issues in the broader context of a strengthened European Union-Africa relationship.  His Government would use the opportunity of the Portuguese Presidency of the Union in the second half of 2007 to ensure that migration remained at the forefront of attention.

    JUDIT FAZEKAS LEVAY, State Secretary of Justice and Law Enforcement of Hungary, said that her country's role in migration flows had been changing since its transition to parliamentary democracy.  From a country producing migrants, Hungary had increasingly become a transit and receiving country. Hungary had positive experience as far as regional initiatives and intergovernmental forms of cooperation dealing with migration were concerned.  It supported the elaboration of an international consultative forum based on the cooperation of Governments.   Hungary was happy to work closely with all Member States in a form of cooperation, as suggested by the idea of the global migration forum.

    She said an international structure involving interested United Nations Member States could build on the extremely important experiences of regional consultative processes.   Hungary, however, could not support the creation of another agency or organization.  Instead, it was encouraging further cooperation of already existing international organizations and regional initiatives.  It had been Hungary's pleasure to host the Global Commission on International Migration regional hearing for Europe in 2004.

    Migration issues were related to such policy areas as poverty alleviation, State sovereignty, individual fundamental rights, global economy, employment, and security, she continued.  The Dialogue had to deal with both horizontal and more technical issues, but it was of great importance to focus primarily on the practical aspects of the positive connection between migration and development.  Hence, it was essential to cover enhancement of the development impact of migrant remittances, sharing best practices of circular migration schemes and the coordination of the follow-up to the present event.  The first discussion of migration issues under the auspices of the United Nations definitely had to present all relevant approaches and aspects, in order to show the colourful picture of the international migration landscape.  She hoped the delegations would find ways to use migration and development issues for their common benefit and produce concrete results as soon as possible.

    TEOPOLINA MUSHELENGA, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration of Namibia, said her Government fully supported the African Common Position on Migration and Development.

    She described Namibia's immigration policy as seeking to promote development with equity, but also said that it needed to be balanced with State security concerns.

    The positive effects of migration could also be undercut when skilled persons migrate, she continued.  Brain gain in some countries must not mean brain drain in others.  The participation of the private sector and non-governmental organizations was necessary to maximize the development benefits of migration.

    She highlighted the problem of an asylum-immigration nexus in the Southern African region, and said Namibia respected asylum and refugee rights from its own long experience.  But, she said her country was seeking to promote voluntary repatriation of refugees who could return to their countries, and local integration of refugees whose ties to their countries of origin had frayed.

    Finally, she called for the provision of technical and humanitarian assistance for developing countries in the context of an international forum for dialogue on migration and development.

    DELANO FRANKLYN, Minister of State and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, said Jamaica associated itself with the statement of the Group of 77 and China.  He added that the tendency to concentrate on security and border control issues should be avoided.

    With 16 per cent of Jamaica's GDP drawn from remittances by nationals abroad, he said that the development benefit from these inflows could be maximized by encouraging short-term labour migration on a bilateral basis, decreasing the costs of transfers, and developing creative synergies between banks and microfinance institutions.  At the same time, countries like Jamaica, which lost over 60 per cent of its tertiary graduates, could not replace the loss of skilled human resources, so he encouraged developed countries to pursue co-development to offset the cost of these migratory flows.

    He said Jamaica was taking steps to become party to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, adding that the benefits of migration were only enjoyed by women when their rights were protected.

    Finally, he said Jamaica was identifying and organizing its diaspora to develop a permanent and structured link with Jamaica, he concluded, expressing hope that they would become strong advocates for policies in their host countries to advance the interests of their nationals abroad.

    ISIKIA SAVUA ( Fiji) said the Secretary-General's report identified migration as a key component of the globalization process.  It also stated that international migration was a constructive force for development, both in countries of origin and destination, and called for sustained dialogue.   Fiji endorsed the Secretary-General's sentiments that international cooperation, primarily through the establishment of his proposed United Nation-backed forum for continued dialogue, was crucial if the global community was to make migration a win-win situation.

    He said that the complexities and linkages between migration, development and security and their impact called for careful consideration.  In that regard, migration policies should be focused on comprehensive security and must complement sustainable development policies.  He went on to say that remittances had the great potential to drive development and should be facilitated in a reliable, quick, economical and legal manner.  The need to address and promote conditions for cheaper faster, safer transfer of remittances should also be seriously considered.  On the other hand, those funds should never be seen as a substitute for investment, trade aid and debt relief.

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