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18 December 2006

On the occasion of International Migrants Day 2006 (18 December 2006) the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the Human Rights of Migrants, Jorge Bustamante, and the Chairperson of the Committee on Migrant Workers, Prasad Kariyawasam, issued the following joint statement:

Today we celebrate the recognition by the international community of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families. These rights are set out in the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families which was adopted by the General Assembly on 18 December 1990. Now, sixteen years later, the protection and promotion of such rights are increasingly becoming more important than ever, in view of the exponential growth in global migration.

The Committee on Migrant Workers, the Convention?s monitoring body, has in the last year commenced considering States parties? reports about the implementation of the Convention at the local level. This has been an enriching and path breaking exercise, not only for the countries concerned but for the protection of the migrant workers rights in general. For the first time, the Committee has been able to analyse and comment on the concrete application of the Convention to the domestic situation in order to assist States in respecting the migrants? rights. This will greatly enhance the understanding of the value of the Convention in facing the challenges of today?s migration processes.

In our opinion, one of the values of the Convention is that it provides States with a comprehensive framework for international cooperation in order to ensure humane conditions of migration. Only too often we are confronted nowadays with images of migrants risking their lives in the attempt to cross borders in search for a better life for themselves and for their families. These incidents are symptomatic of the sad reality many migrants face today in their quest for a job and for a living wage. This suffering has to stop. Conditions of migration should be safer, more secure more humane. Cooperation among States is necessary in order to achieve this. The Convention provides, inter alia, a framework for such cooperation, in order to:

- provide accurate information about conditions of migration, so that migration becomes an informed choice and not a jump into the unknown;
- stop the illegal movement of migrants, so that migrants can move without falling victim to unscrupulous criminals or organized crime groups;
- stop the clandestine employment of irregular migrants, so that migrants do not work in abusive conditions but can enjoy safe and decent working conditions and equal wages;
- facilitate the orderly return of migrants, so that they can enjoy adequate economic and social conditions for their reintegration.

In order to play its guiding role, the Convention needs more support from the international community. Migration is a world wide phenomenon which can not be regulated by bilateral or regional agreements only. The international framework for approaching migration in an equitable and humane way exists and has been laid down by the United Nations in the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. We therefore urge all States which have not yet done so to ratify this Convention for the sake of the dignity and the protection of the human rights of millions of human beings who today traverse the world for work.