Statement on international governance delivered at the Informal Interactive Hearings on International Migration and Development on 15 July 2013
Action theme 4: Migration governance and partnerships
Intervention delivered by Kate Sheill, International Advocacy Officer, Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
Thank you Mr/Madame Moderator
The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women is an international network of over 100 independent NGOs. We locate trafficking in the context of labour migration and see a rights-based approach to migration, safe migration and migrants’ rights, including worker rights, as the best hope of ending and preventing trafficking in persons.
The international human rights framework needs to be the primary framework for the intergovernmental governance of migration. There is still resistance to and lack of knowledge that migrants, including irregular migrants, have (with just two exceptions) the same rights as citizens. It is through the human rights framework that we can address violations of migrants’ rights and ensure access to justice.
Human rights-based labour standards, improved working conditions, and allowing workers to organise across all sectors, irrespective of their migrant status, will reduce opportunities for the exploitation of labour, including migrant labour. But these labour laws and protections must apply to all forms of work, including those often not covered, such as in the informal sector and sectors dominated by women workers.
Migration is a key factor in the development of countries of origin and destination – and development needs to be rights-based. The UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP) clearly places poverty eradication and development within the context of human rights.
Human rights are the common thread between all of the international cooperation frameworks we work with in our work on migration – including refugees, labour standards, trafficking in persons, women’s rights, and child rights.
- We need a space for dialogue and exchange to ensure coherence on migration and human rights across these frameworks. The UN is that space.
- There have been many advances toward ensuring that migrants, migrant workers and their families, can live with the equal dignity and respect to which all persons are entitled. We need a body mandated to track – and ensure coherence between and follow up on – these developments in migrants rights, such as those by the UN treaty bodies and special procedures.
- At the very least, or as a starting point, the mandate of the Global Migration Group needs to be expanded to take on more than information sharing and given more of a leadership role. It needs to be focused on and guided by the international human rights framework.
- Indeed, we need for human rights to be central to the mandate of all the intergovernmental bodies and experts involved in the international governance of migration.
Participation is a fundamental principle of human rights and must be central to the rights-based approach to migration. Civil society must be able to access and participate in the intergovernmental spaces of migration governance – and it has been good to hear affirmation of that from several States today. However, too often migrants are absent from the discussion on their rights. We need to do more to achieve the genuine participation of migrants, regardless of status, in migration policy development and implementation.
To conclude, we call on States to use the occasion of the second High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development to reaffirm the centrality of international human rights law as the primary framework for the intergovernmental governance of migration and civil society’s – and migrants’ – essential participation in that work.