Changing the debate on migration through art

International Migrants Day, held every year on 18 December, pays tribute to the more than 232 million migrants who have moved away from their homes in order to search for a better life, to escape poverty and discrimination, often for a mix of reasons.

While migrants make a significant contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of their host countries and communities, this contribution often goes unrecognized or underappreciated, according to a joint statement from the UN Human Rights Office and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

“It is time for a major shift in the way we perceive migration. We need to redouble our efforts to raise awareness of migrants’ positive social and economic contributions to society. It is time to implement human rights and labour standards more effectively, and to put in place concrete measures to combat discrimination and xenophobia,” said UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay and ILO Director-General Guy Ryder in a joint statement on International Migrants Day.

A new UN Human Rights Office/ILO campaign, scheduled to launch on International Migrants Day, makes an effort to dispel the myths and misconceptions existing around migration with a series of four cartoon images created by cartoon artist Fiami.

Each cartoon includes a satirical message conveying the myth along with a brief description which depicts the contrasting reality. The four cartoons focus on the misconceptions surrounding the effect of migration on the labour market; the failure to take into account the contributions made by migrants to the economies and societies of destination countries; the improper use of terminology such as using the word “illegal” to refer to a migrant who enters and stays without proper documentation; and the misconception that migration is on the rise even though the global proportion of migrants to non-migrants has remained stable for at least 60 years.

18 December 2013

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