Saturday, October 26, 2013

Migration: “In a world of global migration, who is taking care of the rights of migrants?”

Source: UN Human Rights Council

NEW YORK / GENEVA (25 October) – “There is no migration organization within the United Nations, and no coherent institutional framework governing migration. States retreat from binding UN-based frameworks, with preference for informal processes governing migration,” the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, warned on Thursday.

During the presentation of his latest report* to the UN General Assembly in New York, Mr. Crépeau voiced concern that States continue to attempt to govern migration largely on a unilateral basis. “The lack of transparency and accountability of several of these governance processes may have a negative impact on the human rights of migrants,” he said.

In his report*, the expert explores the need for better global migration governance and a strengthened institutional framework. Such a system should be UN-based, and must have as one of its key priorities the human rights of migrants, he said. “Migrants should always be seen first and foremost as human beings with human rights, rather than agents for development,” he stressed.

The new report presents some possible future models for global migration governance, including the possibility of moving the International Organization for Migration (IOM) inside the UN, with a revised, protection-based constitution.

The Special Rapporteur made clear that more governance does not mean that States would give up sovereignty. “On the contrary, States would have more control if there was more migration governance. Currently, migrants themselves, often with the help of smugglers, are crossing borders regardless of State policies,” he added.

The human rights expert stressed that people migrate irregularly due to a lack of regular channels for migration, and largely in response to unrecognized labour needs in destination States.

“If States recognized such labour needs, including for low-skilled work, and open up more regular migration channels, as well as sanction unscrupulous employers who exploit irregular migrants, this would lead to fewer irregular border crossings, less smuggling of migrants, less loss of life at borders, and fewer migrants’ rights violations,” he noted.

“I believe the tragic incidents in the Mediterranean over the past few weeks show just how relevant this discussion is,” Mr. Crépeau underscored.

The Special Rapporteur welcomed calls by several States and other stakeholders for more regular migration channels during the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, convened by the General Assembly in New York on 3-4 October.

“I urge all destination States to consider this carefully, in order to prevent loss of lives at sea, in deserts, in mountains, and other dangerous routes irregular migrants are taking, escaping from poverty and violence, seeking a better future for themselves and their families.”

(*) Read the full report:


François Crépeau (Canada) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants in June 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council, for an initial period of three years. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Crépeau is also Full Professor at the Faculty of Law of McGill University, in Montréal, where he holds the Hans and Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law. Learn more, log on to:

Read the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families: