Committee on Rights of Migrant Workers
9 September 2015
As the Committee marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, we are witnessing a constantly worsening situation experienced by many migrants. These migrants are on the move due to various and interrelated reasons. Many are fleeing from their countries of origin due to extremely difficult circumstances, including violations of their human rights. As a group, they are already in a vulnerable situation, but this vulnerability dramatically increases during their transit as a result of inadequate regular migration channels, numerous and diverse migration control practices, xenophobic attitudes and the growing presence of organized criminal groups that take advantage of the structural character of irregular migration.
In this regard, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted that “[w]hen people are unable to use regular channels to escape oppression, violence and economic despair, they may attempt, in desperation, to find irregular ones. This does not make them criminals. It does not withdraw their right to be treated with dignity. On the contrary, their vulnerability cries out for humanity – an approach that is motivated by respect for their plight, and for their fundamental rights as human beings.” The Committee wholeheartedly shares this view.
All of these people, whether they can be considered migrants, asylum seekers or refugees, are entitled to a protection response based on international law, in particular, the human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law treaty framework. Policies and practices aimed at effectively tackling the root causes of this phenomenon of increasing mixed-migration flows, as well as to address the situation of migrants in transit and destination countries, must be fully in line with these norms and principles established by the international community. A comprehensive, rights-based short and long term response is critical and inevitable. States should also refrain from reacting to this multidimensional and complex issue through criminalization of irregular migration, building of fences and strengthening other border controls measures, including detention, push-back and deportation practices.
In the view of the Committee, it is high time to holistically address this complex and grave situation which affects every region of the world and calls upon the international community to rise to this challenge and respond in accordance with human rights norms and with compassion and humanity. Likewise, it is important to note that the Sustainable Development Goals will not be fully achieved unless this phenomenon is adequately addressed. Therefore, all Member States of the United Nations have a historic opportunity to revert this sad state of affairs through meeting the targets agreed to by the international community. In this context, the Committee is committed to maximizing its efforts to substantially and actively contribute to this process with the firm conviction that the human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families Convention of Migrant Workers, are critical tools for achieving this just goal.
The Committee also recognizes all of the initiatives undertaken to promote and protect the human rights of migrants and supports the organization of a global discussion, that is both constructive and practical, with a view to put in place measures, policies and actions so not to further prolong this human rights and humanitarian crisis.
Adopted on 9 September 2015
Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein at the Interactive Dialogue on the Human Rights of Migrants at the 29th session of the Human Rights Council, 15 June 2015.