Seventy-fifth Session of the UN General Assembly
Second Committee Agenda Item 22
"Globalization and Interdependence"
United Nations, New York, October 9, 2020
As the Secretary-General notes in his report, the number of international migrants worldwide has “risen steadily over the past three decades. Between 1990 and 2019, the number of persons residing outside their country of birth or citizenship increased by 78 per cent.” While the reasons for migration are manifold, for far too many men, women and children, migration is a need rather than a choice. Violence and insecurity, the environmental crisis, human rights violations, lack of economic opportunities and poverty, all “push” people to migrate, forcing men, women and children to leave their homes.
In his statement to this session’s general debate, Pope Francis reminded the world that for so many, their journeys in search of safety are often perilous and without a known or safe destination.
“Refugees, migrants and the internally displaced frequently find themselves abandoned in their countries of origin, transit and destination, deprived of any chance to better their situation in life and that of their families. Worse still, thousands are intercepted at sea and forcibly returned to detention camps, where they meet with torture and abuse. Many of these become victims of human trafficking, sexual slavery or forced labor, exploited in degrading jobs and denied a just wage. This is intolerable, yet intentionally ignored by many!” Actions are needed, and they are needed now.
The Holy See strongly encourages all States and civil society to continue to re-affirm the values of the Global Compact for Migration and its comprehensive framework of best practices and policy instruments to increase international cooperation and sharing of responsibility in the governance of migration in all its dimensions. In particular, it is vital to engage in concrete actions that will make migration more “safe, legal and orderly, and the decision to migrate voluntary.” At the same time, international cooperation on migration must include “efforts of each country to create better economic and social conditions at home, so that emigration will not be the only option left for those who seek peace, justice, security and full respect of their human dignity. The creation of opportunities for employment in the local economies will also avoid the separation of families and ensure that individuals and groups enjoy conditions of stability and serenity.”
When it is well managed, sustainable and voluntary, the positive impact of international migration is closely linked to the advancement of integral human development. The Holy See believes it is vital to continue to underscore the opportunities and benefits of migration in countries of origin, transit and destination. The impact that migrant remittances play in facilitating development in countries of origin and the contribution of migrants to economic output and advancement in countries of destination is well established. In the context of globalization and interdependence, and of sustainable and integral development, the positive role that migrants play in the economies of so many countries is clearly seen. Supporting countries of origin, transit and destination in the spirit of international cooperation and global solidarity is, therefore, vital to promoting development across the globe.
The vital role played by migration in society and the global economy has come into sharp focus during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. International travel has been brought to a grinding halt through border closures and travel restrictions of an unprecedented scale. Even intra-national travel is significantly contracting, resulting in a drastic reduction of human mobility, even as the same cause has exacerbated “push” factors in countries of origin. This has revealed a critical need for the entire spectrum of migration management to adapt to a new reality in which the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the protection of the human rights of migrants are not mutually exclusive.
Impacted in a particular way are those working and traveling by sea, often forced to spend long periods aboard ships without being able to disembark, separated from their families, friends and native countries.
Moreover, the economic recession has meant that migrants employed informally, with limited job security and fewer opportunities to transfer into more resilient, formal sectors of employment, are exposed to job loss, increased discrimination and reductions in wages. The resulting sharp decline in international remittances will have a tragic impact in many countries in the developing world and on the millions of people who rely on this financial lifeline from loved ones in other countries.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has imprinted into the international community the idea of “leaving no-one behind”. My Delegation urges this Committee and the global community to continue to promote the fundamental human rights and dignity of all migrants, regardless of their status, and to acknowledge not only their plight but also their valuable contributions to integral human development of themselves and society.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Pope Francis, Statement to the general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, 25 September 2020.
Pope Francis, Message for the World Day of Migrants and (2014), “Migrants and Refugees: Towards a Better World”, 5 August 2013.