Press Releases

    POP/947
    11 May 2006

    Population Commission Adopts Text Recognizing Important Contribution of Migration to Development, as It Concludes Current Session

    Commission Report to Be Transmitted to General Assembly for September High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development

    NEW YORK, 10 May (UN Headquarters) -- Acknowledging the important nexus between international migration and development, the Commission on Population and Development recognized the need to take concrete action to strengthen bilateral, regional and international cooperation in the area of international migration and development, as it concluded its thirty-ninth session this afternoon.

    Unanimously adopting a resolution on international migration and development (document E/CN.9/2007/L.5), the Commission also acknowledged the important contribution provided by migration to development in countries of origin and destination, and recognized the need for Member States to consider the multidimensional aspects of international migration and development, in order to identify appropriate ways and means of maximizing its development benefits and minimizing its negative impacts.

    By other terms of the five-page text, the Commission requested States to protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their immigration status, and reaffirmed the responsibility of Governments to safeguard the rights of migrants against illegal or violent acts, urging all States to devise, enforce and strengthen effective measures to eliminate all forms of trafficking in persons, counter the demand for trafficked victims and protect the victims.  The Commission also requested all Member States to promote cooperation, in addressing the challenge of undocumented or irregular migration, so as to foster a secure, regular and orderly migration process.

    The Commission also called upon States that have not yet done so, to enact domestic legislation and take further effective measures to combat and prosecute international trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.  It also invited Governments to seek to make the option of remaining in one's own country viable for all people, and called upon States to facilitate family reunification.

    Reiterating the need to consider how the migration of highly skilled persons and those with advanced education impacts the development efforts of developing countries, the Commission acknowledged the need to analyse the impact of certain forms of temporary migration and return migration.  It also reaffirmed that there is a need to promote conditions for cheaper, faster and safer transfers of remittances, in both source and recipient countries, and, as appropriate, to encourage opportunities for development-oriented investment in recipient countries, by beneficiaries that are willing and able to do so.

    Looking forward to the General Assembly's high-level dialogue on international migration and development at its sixty-first session, the Commission recommended that the Economic and Social Council transmit the Commission's report of its thirty-ninth session to the September dialogue.

    After the resolution's adoption, speakers welcomed the consensus adoption of the resolution as an important contribution to the high-level dialogue on migration, but expressed disappointment that the Commission had been unable to reach agreement on the text within the time allotted to it.  Austria's representative (on behalf of the European Union) noted that, while the resolution covered a number of important issues, it had missed a deeper analysis of the root causes of migration.  The upcoming dialogue needed to start from the premise that remaining in one's country must be a viable option, and that migration must always be a choice, Canada's representative said. 

    South Africa's representative (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China) said he would have loved to have seen the resolution adopted in the time allotted to the Commission, but, given the complexity of the issue at hand, that had not been possible.  The United States representative agreed that migration was a complex issue, noting that the international community had found past attempts to deal with the subject at a global level extremely difficult.  That said, however, the value of resolutions produced by an Economic and Social Council functional commission was diminished, when meetings ran over their allotted time. 

    The Commission also adopted a draft resolution on its methods of work (document E/CN.9/2006/L.4), by which it decided that the Commission will adopt a multi-year programme of work, limited to a two-year planning horizon, and decided to select a special theme for each year, based on the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).  The Commission also decided that, in considering each annual theme, it will continue to review both its substantive and policy aspects, as well as progress made in programme implementation in relation to that theme.

    In addition, the Commission adopted its report on the thirty-ninth session (document E/CN.9/2006/L.3), which was introduced by Commission Vice-Chairman, Majdi Ramadan (Lebanon).  It also adopted its provisional agenda for the fortieth session (document E/CN.9/2006/L.2), as orally corrected.  By adopting a draft oral decision, the Commission decided that the theme for the forty-first session will be "Population distribution, urbanization, internal migration and development".

    In other action, the Commission took note of the Secretary-General's report on programme implementation and progress of work in the field of population in 2005, contained in document E/CN.9/2006/6.

    In closing statements, José Antonio Ocampo, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the resolution provided a good basis for further action by Governments, as part of the process leading up to the General Assembly's high-level dialogue.  Commission Chairman Crispin Grey-Johnson (Gambia) said the current session's theme had been a difficult one, which the United Nations had at last placed on the table, rather than under the rug, as it had done for a long time.  The session could even be considered a preparatory committee to September's high-level dialogue.

    Closing statements were also made by Rogelio Fernandez-Castilla, Director of the Technical Support Division, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on behalf of Executive Director Thoraya Obaid, and Hania Zlotnik, the Director of the Population Division.

    Immediately following the closure of the session, the Commission met to elect the Bureau of its fortieth session.  Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury (Bangladesh) was elected as Chairperson.  Alvaro Portillo (Uruguay), Abdellah Benmellouk (Morocco), Andriy Nikitov (Ukraine) and Thomas Gass (Switzerland) were elected as Vice-Chairpersons.

    The Commission on Population and Development will meet again at a date to be announced.

    Statements

    HANNAH LIKO (Austria), on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the consensus that had been reached.  The Union was satisfied with the overall balance of the text.  While she would have preferred the timely conclusion of the Commission's session, she was still pleased that the Commission had been able to live up to its task, by providing an input for the high-level dialogue.  An effective dialogue started with understanding the positions of others.  The goal must be to raise awareness of the root causes of migration, and its positive impacts in development terms.

    While the resolution covered a number of important issues, it missed, however, a deeper analysis of the root causes of migration, and the positive impacts that circular migration had on the development efforts of developing countries, she said.  Well managed migration could bring benefits to sending and receiving countries and contribute to the Millennium Development Goals.  She reaffirmed the Union's commitment to the Cairo Programme of Action.  The Union was committed to achieving the goals agreed to at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), and recognized the interrelation between those goals and efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

    CATHERINE BROWN (Canada) said she was pleased that the Commission would contribute to the high-level dialogue in September.  Canada strongly supported the Commission's important work in following up on the ICPD and key action for further implementation.  Chapter 10 of the Programme of Action on international migration was forward-looking and laid the ground work for related United Nations protocols.  It was, nevertheless, disappointing that States had not reached consensus within the week scheduled for the Commission.  The dialogue needed to start from the premise that remaining in one's country must be a viable option, and that migration must always be a choice.  Dialogue among States, as well as with international organizations, needed to focus on common interests and concerns.  The Commission's future discussion should focus on the legal means for migration.

    ANDRIES JOHANNES OOSTHUIZEN (South Africa), on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said the Group would have loved to have seen the resolution adopted after the week allotted to the Commission.  The reality of the session, however, attested to the complexity of the issue at hand.  The Group acknowledged the hard work of everybody to arrive at the resolution.  The Group attached high importance to the Cairo action plan and to the protection of migrants' human rights.  The notion of capacity-building was also important for developing countries.  He expressed the Group's readiness to engage on the issue of migration, and was happy that the Commission was sending a message to the high-level dialogue that would help address a very complex issue.

    MIRIAM K. HUGHES (United States) said her delegation was pleased to have joined consensus on the Commission's resolutions.  Immigration had played an important and defining role in shaping the history and success of the United States.  Orderly migration, when managed effectively, was a positive phenomenon for both countries of origin and destination, as well as for the migrants themselves.  Migration was a complex issue, and the international community had found past attempts to deal with the subject at the international level to be extremely difficult.  That trend was further evidenced by the Commission's deliberations on migration.  The United States was disappointed by the extended negotiations that had been required to come to consensus on the migration resolution.  The value of resolutions produced by an Economic and Social Council functional commission was diminished, when meetings ran over their allotted time.  The extended and lengthy nature of the discussion, moreover, highlighted the very great difficulty the international community faced in addressing the complex topic of migration at the global level.

    The ICPD Programme of Action expressed important political goals that the United States endorsed, she said.  Her delegation reaffirmed the goals of the ICPD Programme of Action, and the key actions for further implementation of ICPD, based on the understanding that those documents constituted an important policy framework that did not create international legal rights or legally binding obligations on States under international law.  The United States reaffirmation of the goals of those documents did not constitute a change in the United States position, with respect to treaties that it had not ratified.

    She said the United States fully supported the principle of voluntary choice, regarding maternal and child health, and family planning.  The United States did not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor did it support abortion in its reproductive health assistance.  The United States interpreted references within that document to the Plan of Action of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, as only applying to the migration-related provisions.  The United States had made no commitments at the World Conference against Racism.

    JOSÉ ANTONIO OCAMPO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the resolution just adopted provided a very good basis for further action and commitment by Governments, as part of the process leading up to the General Assembly's high-level dialogue on international migration and development, scheduled for September.  It suggested that countries of origin and destination pursue measures to facilitate the contribution of migrants and migrant communities to the development of their origin countries, and called for measures to reinforce the positive contribution that migrant women could make to development, in both categories of countries.

    The resolution recognized the need to consider how the migration of highly skilled persons impacted the development efforts of developing countries, he said, adding that it also underscored the need to promote conditions for the cheaper, faster and safer transfer of remittances.  The resolution also reaffirmed the right of Governments to enforce their migration laws, consistent with their international obligations, as well as their responsibility to safeguard and protect the rights of migrants.  It provided guidance on how to combat trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and made suggestions on how to improve the availability and quality of statistics on international migration.

    HANIA ZLOTNIK, Director of the Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, congratulated members on a productive, if somewhat protracted, session.  The resolution on international migration and development not only built upon the solid edifice that past resolutions and the outcome of other conferences had erected, but it also provided a solid element on which to build the dialogue, as well as future Government actions to ensure the realization of the potential benefits of migration.  She thanked all who had worked hard to ensure that the Commission played a critical role in advancing issues that were both challenging and fundamental to the well-being of people around the world.

    ROGELIO FERNANDEZ-CASTILLA, Director of the Technical Support Division, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), spoke on behalf of Executive Director Thoraya Obaid, saying that UNFPA had watched over the years, as Member States in the Commission grappled with sensitive and difficult issues.  Each time it had been rewarded with outcomes reaffirming the global consensus that population and sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights were critical, if countries were to achieve their national development goals.

    He said UNFPA was committed to working closely with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and its Population Division, to ensure maximum synergies and support for the Commission's work.  The decision on the Commission's working methods reinforced the importance of such coordination and coherence to its work.  Increased and more effective coordination should contribute to making the Commission an even more important forum for the exchange of national experiences and lessons learned, for framing policy debate and for advice on further implementation.

    Commission Chairman CRISPIN GREY-JOHNSON (Gambia) said the theme of the current session had been a difficult one that the United Nations had at last placed on the table, rather than under the rug, as it had done for a long time.  The session could even be considered a preparatory committee to September's high-level dialogue.

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