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Statements Special Procedures

Open Letter of Special Procedures mandate holders on the High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development

02 October 2013

An Open Letter from the United Nations Special Procedures Mandate Holders on the High-level Dialogue on migration and development

         The Special Procedures Mandate Holders call on all stakeholders, in particular Member States and intergovernmental organizations, to seize the opportunity of the second High-level Dialogue on migration and development, which will convene at the General Assembly on 3 and 4 October 2013, to underscore the inherent link among migration, development and human rights.

         Seven years after the first High-level Dialogue on migration and development, and in the lead up to the finalization of the post-2015 development framework, this Dialogue is a unique opportunity to take stock of the progress accomplished in the global discussions about migration, and reflect on the mainstreaming of human rights into all aspects of the migration debate.
         Despite the legal framework in place, under which migrants have the same human rights as anyone else, except for the right to vote and be elected, and the right to enter and stay in a country, migrants continue to suffer abuse, exploitation and violence. Migration is in essence a fundamental human phenomenon, so it is essential for discussions on international migration to be focused on human rights. Human rights must be a cross-cutting issue that informs all discussions at the High-level Dialogue.

         Mandate holders call on Member States to adopt a migrant-centred approach during the High-level Dialogue and beyond. While noting with appreciation that the High-level Dialogue will have a roundtable specifically dedicated to measures to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of all migrants, mandate holders hope all the other discussions at the High-level dialogue will integrate human rights. This is particularly important during the three other roundtables (in relation to the post-2015 development framework, partnerships and cooperation on international migration, and labour mobility). Migrants are human beings with human rights, not simply agents for economic development achieved through, inter alia, the sending of remittances or contributions to economic outputs.

         We hope that the issues of the rights to due process of law for migrants at borders, both at entry and during expulsion procedures; the decriminalization of irregular entry and stay; the move away from detention as a tool in addressing irregular migration, and the development of alternatives to detention will be raised during the Dialogue. We urge States to discuss how to ensure awareness-raising of the human rights of migrants, including migrants in an irregular situation, and how to combat xenophobia and xenophobic violence against migrants. It is crucial that the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights, including the rights to education, health, social security, adequate housing and labour rights, for all migrants, including irregular migrants, is discussed. We urge States to address the rights of migrant children, both in countries of transit and destination.

         In order to ensure the effective implementation of the human rights of migrants at the national level, it is essential to consider ways to ensure that migrants have effective recourse to courts and tribunals, national human rights institutions, and all other independent institutions, to be in a position to obtain effective remedies for any human rights violations they might face.

         We urge the General Assembly to adopt a human rights-based outcome document on the High-level Dialogue. States should agree on a global agenda on migration that fully respects the human rights of migrants. There is a need to strengthen and improve existing institutions and frameworks within the United Nations, as well as to work more effectively with all stakeholders involved in migration and development. These include the human rights mechanisms and civil society organizations. We urge States to consider establishing a platform inside the United Nations dedicated to discussing migration and human rights. We further urge all Member States to use the momentum of the High Level Dialogue to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, as one of the core human rights instruments and an important tool to further promote and protect the human rights of all migrants.

         Given our expertise in a wide range of issues relevant to the human rights of migrants, Special Procedures will follow the debate at the High-level Dialogue closely, and follow up on the outcome actively.