Human Rights Council Enhanced interactive dialogue on the human rights of migrants in the context of large movements, 10 March 2017

In its resolution 32/14 entitled “Protection of the human rights of migrants: strengthening the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants including in large movements”, which was adopted on 1 July 2016, the Human Rights Council recalled its mandate inter alia, to promote universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without discrimination of any kind, and to serve as a forum for dialogue on thematic issues on all human rights, and to promote the effective coordination and mainstreaming of human rights within the United Nations system.

Deeply concerned at the large and growing number of migrants, including women and children, who have lost their lives or have been injured in attempting to cross international borders, and recognizing the obligation of States to protect and respect the human rights of those migrants, regardless of their immigration status, the Human Rights Council decided in paragraph 13 of the aforementioned resolution to hold an enhanced interactive dialogue on the theme “The human rights of migrants in the context of large movements” at its thirty-fourth session, with the participation of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other relevant stakeholders, including the International Organization for Migration, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization or other members of the Global Migration Group (GMG).

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Selected outcomes:

  • A range of speakers engaged in the enhanced interactive dialogue, exchanging views, challenges and best practices vis-à-vis the protection and promotion of human rights of migrants. The discussion took place in the framework of the follow-up to the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants held in September 2016 with the purpose of considering howbest to respond to the growing global phenomenon of large and precarious movements of migrants and refugees. The vast majority of speakers made reference to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (General Assembly resolution 71/1) adopted by Member States during the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, which was seen as evidence of the commitment of UNMember States to the protection and promotion of the human rights of all migrants, irrespective of their status and stage of their migrant journey. Notably, the New York Declaration paved the way to a Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration, to be negotiated in 2018 as well as a separate Global Compact on Refugees.
  • Most of the States expressed their willingness to engage in the upcoming processes of the Global Compact on Migration and the need to ensure that the human rights of allmigrants are mainstreamed throughout the procedures, by promoting a comprehensive and holistic approach to migration policies. In this respect, some speakers welcomed the first preparatory thematic session on ‘‘Human rights of all migrants, social inclusion, cohesion, and all forms of discrimination, including racism xenophobia and intolerance’’, which was held in Geneva in May 2017.
  • The majority of the speakers recognised the existence of numerous human rights violations against migrants, including the denial of access to rights, such as the right to health and the right to education, as well as the implementation of polices with a punitive nature, such as prolonged immigration detention, push-backs and border closures.
  • Participants strongly rejected all forms of discrimination, xenophobia and racism against migrants and expressed their concern over the alarming rise of such attitudes and actions towards migrants. They further noted the need to focus on the human rights protection of migrants in vulnerable situations. Priority should be given to women and children.
  • Many speakers welcomed the OHCHR’s ‘‘Principles and guidelines, supported by practical guidance, on the human rights protection of migrants in vulnerable situations ‘’, as a useful toolkit in this regard. Some speakers also referred to the OHCHR’s ‘‘Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders’’.
  • The necessity for effective international cooperation among countries of origin, transit, destination and other relevant stakeholders, including the civil society, as well as the need to reaffirm the concept of international shared responsibility was highlighted by a number of speakers. Participants also called the adoption of human rights-based approaches to migration.