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Statements Treaty bodies

Opening Statement by Representative of the Secretary-General to the Sixth Meeting of States Parties to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their families

30 May 2013

New York, 30 May 2013

Distinguished Delegates,

On behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General, I am pleased to declare open the Sixth Meeting of States parties to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. It is my honour and privilege to address this Meeting today and I wish to extend a warm welcome to all of you.

Before turning to the substantive items on the provisional agenda, allow me to briefly refer to recent developments of interest concerning the activities of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Since your Fifth Meeting, both Mozambique and Chad have signed the Convention, on 15 March and 26 September 2012, respectively, and Indonesia deposited an instrument of ratification of the Convention on 31 May 2012.   At present, there are 46 States parties to the Convention.  Although these treaty actions are most welcome, the limited number of States having ratified or acceded to the Convention remains the most significant challenge facing the Committee in ensuring the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights continues to use occasions such as the yearly commemoration of the International Migrants Day on 18 December to promote further ratification of the Convention.   The High Commissioner sent letters on 18 December 2012 commending those States that accepted, during the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the recommendation to consider ratifying the Convention.  A joint statement by United Nations experts entitled "Migrants deserve full recognition as rights holders" was also issued for International Migrants Day.     

The rights of children in the context of international migration was the theme of the day of general discussion organized by the Committee on the Rights of the Child last September in Geneva, which was well attended and highlighted again the importance of the Migrant Workers Convention.

I additionally note that the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention will take place on 1 July 2013, and the Committee, OHCHR and other stakeholders are discussing ways to mark the occasion.

I further note with appreciation that many of the States represented here are active in promoting the Convention and I encourage you to continue doing so.

The Committee on the Migrant Workers has so far held 18 sessions.   Since the Fifth Meeting of States parties, the Committee considered three initial and four second periodic reports and, in each case, adopted conclusions and recommendations aimed at the effective implementation of the Convention at the national level.   The Committee also adopted its General Comment No. 2 on the rights of migrant workers in an irregular situation and members of their families at its 18 session held in April 2013.  It additionally held a day of general discussion on the role of migration statistics for treaty reporting and migration policy on 22 April.  Over 75 participants attended including representatives of the Permanent Missions, specialized agencies and other entities, non-governmental organizations and academia.  The general discussion focused on government policy, inter-State cooperation and collaboration with non-governmental actors, and statistics on so-called hidden populations, data protection and confidentiality.  The Committee also held an informal closed meeting with 24 States to discuss its activities, collaboration with stakeholders, working methods, treaty body strengthening as well as ways to raise the visibility of the Convention and to encourage more States to become party to it.     

Distinguished delegates,

In order to reduce the reporting burden on States parties and to strengthen its own working methods, the Committee implemented the simplified reporting procedure as recommended by the High Commissioner in her Report on Treaty Body Strengthening, and has adopted seven lists of issues prior to reporting.  Under this new procedure, the list of issues adopted by the Committee and the replies by the States party concerned constitute its report on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention, pursuant to article 73 of the Convention, and replaces the State party’s report under the regular reporting procedure. This procedure is already being applied by other UN human rights treaty bodies and has the advantage of enabling States parties to prepare more targeted reports, at the same time allowing the Committee to plan its sessions with more predictability.

In this context, the Committee has also decided to consider States parties’ reports according to a comprehensive reporting calendar in order to cover all States parties to the Convention over a reporting cycle of five years, in line with article 73, paragraph 1 (b), of the Convention. Based on the current number of States parties, this means that the Committee will examine a total of nine States parties per year as of 2014, which will require additional meeting time and resources for the Committee to cope with its increasing workload.  At its 17th session, the Committee adopted a decision to request additional meeting time of one extra week annually and corresponding resources.  At its 18th session, it adopted the statement on programme budget implications in this regard, which will be presented to the General Assembly.    

These measures are embedded in the broader context of the treaty body strengthening process.  The Committee also adopted all of the recommendations made by the High Commissioner in her report on strengthening the treaty body system, as well as the guidelines on the independence and impartiality of treaty body members at its 18th session. 

The Committee, along with members of CAT and CEDAW,  held a meeting with the co-facilitators of the intergovernmental process, the Ambassadors of Indonesia and Iceland.  A frank exchange took place on the proposals contained in the High Commissioner’s Report on Treaty Body Strengthening.   Committee members highlighted the fact that the treaty body system, established by internationally legally binding instruments, is the main pillar of the human rights sytem and should be funded apprropriately to carry-out the mandates entrusted to the various committees by the States parties to the relevant treaties.   Committee members also voiced their agreement with harmonization and rationalization of working methods in a way that would not impact negatively on rights holders, and that any savings realized should be invested in capacity-building to ensure that the committees’ recommendations are implemented at the country level.    

As you are aware, The High Commissioner submitted her report on treaty body strengthening to the General Assembly in June 2012.  Of particular interest, the High Commissioner’s report contains, inter alia, a number of recommendations related to treaty body membership.  The High Commissioner, noting that the nomination and election process is a determining factor of paramount importance to the expertise and efficiency of each treaty body, invites States parties to adopt, within their respective settings, national policies and processes, with respect to the nomination of experts, and also proposes an open public space for all States parties to present their potential candidates for treaty bodies.  According to the High Commissioner, these national policies should be based on a number of principles, including the nomination of candidates through an open and transparent selection process from among persons who have a proven record of expertise in the relevant area and the willingness to take on the full range of responsibilities related to the mandate of a treaty body member; the avoidance of nominations or election of experts while they are holding positions in government or any other position that may expose them to pressures, conflict of interest or generate a real or perceived negative profile in terms of independence that would impact negatively on the credibility of the candidate, the relevant Committee and the treaty body system as a whole; and membership terms should, as a general rule, be limited to a maximum of two full terms in order to ensure the renewal and diversity of membership of the treaty bodies.  This proposal is without prejudice to the existing mandates of treaty body members.