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Opening address by Ibrahim Salama Chief, Human Rights Treaties Branch at the 11th session of the Committee on Migrant Workers


 

12 October 2009

Monsieur le Président

Distingués Membres du Comité

Mesdames et Messieurs

C’est un plaisir de vous accueillir à Genève pour cette session du Comité. Je tiens d’entrée à excuser le Haut Commissaire aux droits de l’homme, Madame Navanethem Pillay, qui ne peut malheureusement ouvrir votre session. Elle m’a demandé de vous relayer ses vœux pour une session fructueuse et pleine de succès.

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished members of the Committee,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me start by telling you that our Office has been engaged over the last couple of months in identifying its strategic priorities for the next biennium 2010/11. I am happy to inform you that one of these priorities is: ensuring the realization of human rights in the context of migration. OHCHR will strive to make the international community more responsive to the human rights dimensions of migration, particularly in the areas of economic, social and cultural rights; migration detention and criminalisation of irregular migration; as well as the effects of the current economic crisis which brings not only economic hardship to migrants, who are often the first to lose their jobs, but which also has led to increased manifestations of xenophobia and discrimination against them, making migrants more vulnerable to abuse. Of course, increasing the number of ratifications of the Migrant Workers Convention will be one of our aims. Our strategy also focuses at improving the reporting rate of States parties to the Convention. In this context, I am happy to inform you that OHCHR is organising, in cooperation with the International Organisation of la Francophonie, a treaty reporting training for the ECOWAS region. The training will take place in Mali next month, and will include a focus on the Migrant Workers Convention. It will be followed by a one day seminar for national human rights institutions in the region on the human rights of migrants and the role that national human rights institutions can play in this regard. I would be happy if you were to share your thoughts with me on how OHCHR can contribute to the advocacy for your Convention.

In this regard, there is already good news: the recent accession to the Convention by Nigeria has brought the number of States parties to 42. As you know, the membership of your Committee will expand to fourteen as of 1 January 2010. Elections will take place at the meeting of States parties on 3 December of this year, not only for the five outgoing members of the Committee but also for the nine additional members.

Monsieur le Président

Distingués Membres du Comité

Mesdames et Messieurs

Comme vous le savez, le 17 septembre, à sa douzième session, le Conseil des droits de l’homme a tenu un débat en plénière sur les droits des migrants qui se trouvent en détention, une discussion à laquelle vous, Monsieur le Président, avez participé, avec d’autres experts tels que le rapporteur spécial sur les droits des migrants, M. Bustamante. Cet événement très important a permis de montrer une fois de plus la pertinence de la Convention sur la protection des travailleurs migrants dans le débat actuel sur la migration et je tiens à vous remercier Monsieur le Président, pour votre excellent discours à cette occasion.

I should also like to inform you that the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution at its last session on migration and the human rights of the child. In its resolution, the Council among other things requests the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to promote and raise awareness of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to support the building of greater synergies between the Committee on the Rights of the Child and your Committee, and to strengthen cooperation for the protection of migrant children. The resolution also requests OHCHR to prepare a study on challenges and best practices in the implementation of the international framework for the protection of the rights of the child in the context of migration. We will come back to you to ask you your advice on these issues once we start working in this and I would be very happy if you could already share your ideas with me on how to strengthen the cooperation between your Committee and the CRC in this respect.

In relation to harmonisation of working methods, members of the different treaty bodies met here in Geneva for the ninth Inter-Committee Meeting in June. Your Committee was represented by Mr. El Jamri, Ms. Cubias and Mr. Kariyawasam. Within the framework of the meeting, participants also met with representatives of States and discussed ways and means to further enhance the effectiveness of the treaty bodies, including through harmonization and simplification of their working methods, as well as the relationship of the treaty body system to the wide human right machinery of the United Nations, including the Human Rights Council. I am sure that the members who represented your Committee will provide you with further information on the recommendations and points of agreement identified during the meeting. The tenth Inter-Committee meeting will take place at the end of November/early December and will be devoted to a discussion of follow-up to concluding observations and views of treaty bodies in order to, inter alia, identify best practices in respect of follow-up and consider possible areas of harmonization in this respect.

In her opening speech to the twelfth session of the Human Rights Council, he High Commissioner underscored the importance of treaty bodies. While noting that the overall success of the human rights protection system is most welcome and encouraging, the High Commissioner noted the significant and ever increasing challenges to the system. She is therefore inviting all stakeholders, including yourself, to initiate a process of reflection on how to streamline and strengthen the treaty body system to achieve better coordination among treaty bodies, but also in your interaction with UPR and special procedures. Time has been set aside in your agenda later this session for an exchange of views with you on this matter, to which I am looking forward.

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished members of the Committee,

At the present session of the Committee you will continue with the consideration of the initial reports of States parties and examine the report of Sri Lanka, this afternoon and tomorrow. I would like to note that Sri Lanka, has already been reviewed under the UPR process and has been examined by several other treaty bodies; you will find the relevant documentation included in your files.

On Wednesday you will hold a day of General Discussion on Migrant Domestic Workers, a particular important and relevant subject. Many migrants are engaged as domestic workers and they are among the most vulnerable because of the unregistered and unregulated nature of their work. The discussion day will also feed into the debate being held at the International Labour Conference next year on the possible adoption of an ILO instrument on domestic workers. I would also hope that the discussion at your session this week may lead you to adopt a general comment on the subject maybe next year.

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished members of the Committee,

I wish you an excellent session.

Thank you.