Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
Seventy-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Second Committee
Agenda Item 22(b): Globalization and Interdependence:
International migration and development
New York, 19 October 2018
The growth in migration has been a particular feature of the 21st century, yet it is an ancient and global phenomenon. The Secretary-General’s report highlights the recent data on international migration, which since 2000 has increased “almost 50 percent, reaching 258 million in 2017.” In the same period the number of refugees  and asylum seekers grew from 16 to 26 million. While these are staggering statistics, we need to go beyond the numbers and remember that they refer to unique individuals, each of whom has an equal right to human dignity, safety and a decent standard of living.
As the Secretary-General’s report notes, many factors drive migration. There are the push factors: violence, insecurity, human rights violations, lack of opportunity; and there are pull factors: the search for better opportunities and changes in labor markets. Part of the recent increase in the number of migrants has resulted from the effects of climate change and “poverty caused by environmental degradation.” Any successful effort to address the migration crisis should start with these push factors. Very few people want to leave their families and communities of origin and, yet all too often the migrants are blamed as if they had created the factors that push them out of their homelands. The push factors are like a fire: if we put out the fire, we will not have to build new houses.
While migration certainly imposes costs on the host countries, and these costs are not fairly shared by all, migration also carries benefits to the receiving countries. The aforementioned report mentions that the demographic challenges facing developed countries would be much worse if not for net migration into those countries.
The increased supply of workers, however, is not the only benefit from migration. As Pope Francis noted in his 2018 Message for the World Day of Peace: “When we turn [our] gaze to migrants and refugees, we discover that they do not arrive empty-handed. They bring their courage, skills, energy and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them. We also come to see the creativity, tenacity and spirit of sacrifice of the countless individuals, families and communities around the world who open their doors and hearts to migrants and refugees, even where resources are scarce.”
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, together with the Global Compact on Refugees, provide a continuum of protection for all those forced to flee from their place of residence, including those displaced by sudden or slow-onset natural disasters, climate change and environmental degradation, ensuring that no one is left behind. Taken together, these Compacts affirm our shared responsibility, in the pursuit of the common good, to care for those most in need of solidarity.
The strain that many States face in responding to mixed flows, especially when they are unpredictable and overwhelming, was considered thoroughly during the negotiations. The need for increased international solidarity in sharing burdens and responsibilities was discussed at length, as was the prior commitment of States to “work together to create conditions that allow communities and individuals to live in safety and dignity in their own countries.” Such conditions include increased investment in education, basic health care infrastructure and services, capacity building and training for young people, with a view to helping them find their place and be affirmed in their dignity in an increasingly destabilizing global economy. They also require addressing the root causes and driving factors that displace people before they are constrained to leave their homelands. Respecting every person’s dignity requires creating the conditions necessary for the realization of the right to remain.
Pope Francis described these shared responsibilities and authentic solidarity in four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate. The Holy See hopes that the honest effort expended on the Global Compacts will endure, in line with these four steps, to respect the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees in a spirit of international solidarity while recognizing the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy in light of their obligations under international law.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
1. A/73/286, 8.
2. Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 25.
3. Pope Francis, Message for the Celebration of the 51st World Day of Peace, 1 January 2018.
4. A/CONF.231/3, Annex, 13.