June 21, 2017
OAS: Open Discussion on Migration

Intervention of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio
Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the
Organization of American States

Open Discussion on Migration
Forty-seventh annual plenary session of the Organization of American States

Cancun, Mexico, 19-21 June 2017

Mr. President,

At the very outset, the Holy See expresses appreciation to Mexico for the leading role it has been playing and continues to play in the preparatory phases toward a Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. We wish Mexico success as it hosts the stocktaking phase in December 2017, leading toward the intergovernmental negotiations that will occur in New York from February to July 2018.

While the question of migration concerns all, it is especially at the heart of the anxieties of many Member States of this Organization. Pope Francis deeply shares these preoccupations. He has made the welfare of migrants and refugees a defining priority of his pastoral ministry.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for the “orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.” (SDG 10.7)

Such an outcome requires analysis and the delineation and effective realization of practical strategies to address the drivers of forced migration. Pope Francis has urged all government leaders to take immediate, effective, practical and concrete steps to address the causes of forced migration. In particular, sustainable solutions must be put into effect to stop wars and conflicts, as well as violent local situations often provoked by drug trafficking in many regions of this Continent, which have become the single biggest driver of forced migration, refugee flows and massive internal population displacements. Social and economic exclusion is another major driver of forced migration, as extreme poverty and the absence of basic public services are at the root of global instability, making migration a necessity rather than a choice. This is why our first and most fundamental work must be to answer the basic needs of our brothers and sisters and to ensure their peace and security at home.

My Delegation would like to convey the grave concern of Pope Francis for unaccompanied child migrants or those separated from their parents. The question of child migrants must be tackled at its source. This requires, as a first step, the commitment to eliminate all forms of violence that force people to flee or to send their children ahead with the hope that they will find safety, security and ultimately a better life. Farsighted perspectives are called for, capable of offering adequate remedies for areas struck by the worst injustices, natural disasters and political instability, so that access to authentic development can be guaranteed for all. Pope Francis is appealing to governments and citizens of countries of transit and destination to provide programs, services and protection measures that could best guarantee the safety and the overall wellbeing of unaccompanied or separated child migrants.

Another priority concern for the Holy See is the right of all to remain in their countries in peace and economic security. If conditions for a decent life are met and the drivers of migration are adequately addressed, people would not feel forced to leave their homes. The Holy See thus encourages the Members of this Organization to ensure that the right to remain as prior to the right to emigrate will be enshrined in the Global Compact for Migration.  This does not mean that one right is more important than the other, but that by ensuring this prior right to remain, migration will become voluntary, regular and safe, and consequently more manageable and sustainable.

Thank you, Mr. President.