MAY 19, 2022
Here are the remarks of UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the International Migration Review Forum convened under the auspices of the General Assembly in New York today:
Migration is a fact of life; in fact, it is as old as human life itself. But too often it has been mismanaged, uncoordinated, misunderstood and reviled. Today, more than 80% of migrants in the world move from one country to another in a safe and orderly manner. But unregulated migration – the cruel realm of traffickers – continues to have a terrible cost.
We must do more to break the grip of smugglers and better protect migrants in vulnerable situations, especially women and girls. Thousands of migrants still die each year pursuing what we all seek: opportunity, dignity and a better life. We must do more to prevent loss of life, as a humanitarian imperative and a moral and legal obligation.
We must expand and diversify rights-based migration pathways to advance the Sustainable Development Goals and address labor shortages. And we must ensure that returns and readmissions are safe, dignified and fully in accordance with international law. Human rights are an absolute value — they apply to all of us, whether we are on the move or not, whether that displacement is forced or voluntary, whether it is formally authorized or not.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration represents the will of the international community to put these values into practice in a spirit of solidarity and partnership. Transform the way we understand and manage migration. To make it a source of prosperity, not synonymous with inhumanity. To end the tragic loss of life, the outrage over rights violations and the powder keg of social tensions too often associated with migration.
Confront xenophobia and racism with a clear understanding of the facts. To see it not just as a problem to be solved, but rather as a potential solution to many of the challenges we face. And to achieve this through enhanced international cooperation between all States and stakeholders at all levels.
Today, at this first-ever International Migration Review Forum, we have gathered to take stock. First, our progress towards implementing the Compact. And second, of the interplay between migration and broader concerns – from the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, development finance and the climate crisis to human rights and security, as well as to health and work.
This Forum opens up a space to hear the experiences and learn from the expertise of a wide range of migration actors – and each other. For many Member States, the Pact has become an invaluable point of reference for evaluating actions, making progress and strengthening cooperation. I congratulate all those who have used the Pact to improve the lives of migrants — by helping them integrate into host countries; by expanding and diversifying regular routes; and advancing collaboration between countries of origin, transit and destination.
Yet too often these measures remain the exception rather than the norm. The COVID-19 pandemic has painfully demonstrated how far we are still from achieving rights-based, child-sensitive and gender-responsive governance of international migration.
Migrants have worked on the front lines of the crisis, risking their own lives to save those of others. Their remittances are lifelines for families in countries often most exposed to soaring food and energy prices and least able to mobilize resources for recovery.
But too often, migrant workers and their families are excluded from sharing in the prosperity they themselves help to generate. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen migrants excluded from stimulus measures and denied access to basic services, whether healthcare or social protection.
Migrants are part of our societies; they must be part of the renewed social contract that I called for in my report on Our common program enable individuals, states and others to build trust, increase participation and strengthen social cohesion, including migrants.
The Global Compact is at the heart of the United Nations mission. It is a global response to a global phenomenon for which we must be much better prepared. We have launched the UN Network on Migration to mobilize the full extent of our capacities and expertise to support you, Member States, in advancing the full implementation of the Compact. The network has since established a capacity-building mechanism, including a network center on migration and a multi-partner trust fund, the first of its kind focused on migration.
I thank those Member States who have contributed and encourage others to do the same. And I count on all of you to achieve a strong political outcome through tangible, credible, ambitious and achievable promises and strong monitoring and follow-up mechanisms. Let’s keep the momentum going as we work together for a safer and more prosperous future for all of us, including migrants.
For news media. Not an official record.