Statement by the Very Rev. Mons. Antoine Camilleri
Under-Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See
High-Level Debate on International Migration
Panel 1: Overview on Progress in Achieving Migration Goals
New York, 27 February 2019
If someone were listening to the news for the very first time today, they might assume that migration is synonymous with border insecurity, humanitarian disaster and human trafficking. The time-tested truth that migration is largely regular, the sign of a healthy economy and the bedrock of many modern nation States rarely makes the news. Yet, when we take a closer look at our own personal history or that of the communities and countries where we live together, one easily recognizes the obvious: migration, especially when it is well-managed, safe, orderly and regular, makes an undeniably positive and necessary contribution to the development of culture, the economy and society.
As we will hear emphasized throughout today’s debate, migration is a fact. There is no denying that it can create challenges and that the root causes of forced migration and internal displacement should be addressed, first by national governments, as well as through international cooperation. When migration is well managed, however, it becomes both voluntary and sustainable. This is the work to which the international community has committed itself in the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda and it is the basis for the best practices and policy instruments that form the foundation of the 360-degree approach taken by the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).
It is a sad fact that many migrants are forced to leave their home. Facing political and religious persecution, acts of violence and discrimination, extreme poverty, and environmental degradation, migrants flee to survive and to protect their families. These are the root causes of the humanitarian emergencies, border insecurity and situations of human trafficking that make the news. These are the adverse drivers that undermine the prior right of every individual to remain in his or her country of origin, in peace and security, and to lead prosperous lives.
We are here today because we have an obligation as an international community to address these underlying negative push factors of migration, even as we work to make regular migration ever safer, ever more orderly, ever more regular, and thus ever more beneficial to all.
We do this by taking concrete steps to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. We do this by ensuring healthy lives. We do this by ensuring the material and spiritual well-being of our children and youth. We do this by committing ourselves to inclusive and equitable quality education and by promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. We do this by fighting inequality and violence, ensuring decent work, combatting climate change and building more peaceful and inclusive societies, with more accountable and effective institutions at all levels. In short, we do this by achieving the commitments of the 2030 Agenda and ensuring the integral human development of every person at every age.
All migrants, regardless of their status, deserve to be treated with dignity and to have all their human rights respected and protected along their entire migratory journey, including when they cannot remain. “Welcoming others,” as Pope Francis has said, “requires concrete commitment, a network of assistance and good will, vigilant and sympathetic attention, the responsible management of new and complex situations that at times compound numerous existing problems, to say nothing of resources, which are always limited. By practicing the virtue of prudence, government leaders should take practical measures to welcome, promote, protect, integrate and, within the limits allowed by a correct understanding of the common good, to permit [them] to become part of a new society”.
This realistic and holistic approach to the management of international migration informs the entire GCM. As with any living document, there will always be room for improvement, especially through the International Migration and Review Forum. The GCM, however, remains the most comprehensive set of best practices and policy instruments that exists within the international system, offering States the opportunity to work together with greater cohesion, along with the UN System, to ensure that international migration is truly advantageous to all.
I thank you.
1. Pope Francis, Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See for the Traditional Exchange of New Year Greetings, 8 January 2019.