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Statements Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

UN Network on Migration

19 October 2020

Briefing to Member State Permanent Missions in Geneva

Statement by Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Monday 19 October 2020, 10:00am – 11:00pm

Excellencies, colleagues,

It is a pleasure to join you today to discuss our coordinated action and partnership.

Globally, COVID-19 has given rise to significant challenges and aggravated existing inequalities. This is a human crisis with health, socio-economic and humanitarian dimensions. As the Secretary-General made it clear: people – and their rights – must be front and centre of the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. At all levels.

The Global Compact for Migration came at a critical time and provides another path forward, one built on cooperation, solidarity and respect for fundamental rights. It recognizes that migration is a cross-border issue which no Member State can govern alone. Actions taken by one government will necessarily affect others, both regionally and globally.

Like many of you, I was in Marrakech for the adoption of the Compact and welcomed it as a landmark achievement and a global commitment to work together to better address migration in all of its dimensions. My Office greatly values the GCM as a framework for improved global migration governance that puts migrants and their human rights at the centre.


But just as no Member State can address migration alone, no single UN entity has the ability, resources, mandate or expertise to respond to all aspects of migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. Nor can any single UN entity fully meet the diverse needs of all migrants, including women, men and children with different motivations, opportunities and protection needs. My Office is proud to be part of the UN Network on Migration and will continue working with all members of the UN family to ensure that the Network provides coherent and coordinated support to governments in respecting migrants' rights.



Migration is not a new phenomenon. It has always been a fundamental part of the human experience – and has been overwhelmingly positive. Migration has spurred innovation, expanded individual opportunities and collective horizons, increased common understanding, and has been a key driver of sustainable development.

And it is increasingly important, especially as our world becomes more interconnected and interdependent. It is critical that the systems of governance and cooperation that we establish today facilitate human mobility and connection, not prevent them.

Many migrants are forced to leave their homes for several and complex reasons, including poverty, lack of access to healthcare, education, food, and the consequences of environmental degradation and climate change. Migrants in an irregular situation tend to be disproportionately vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation and abuse, often living and working in the shadows and having their human rights denied. A lack of human rights-based migration governance is leading to the routine violation of migrants' rights in transit, at international borders, and in countries of destination.

We must focus on those migrants in vulnerable situations around the world. In implementing the GCM, we have a unique opportunity to realize the commitment to leave no one behind and reach the furthest behind first. An opportunity to ensure the respect, protection and fulfilment of migrants' human rights are at the core of our actions.

And this is an opportunity we cannot miss.

In establishing the UN Network on Migration and implementing our workplan, we have chosen to focus on key areas where gaps and challenges remain in governing migration humanely, responsibly, and in accordance with human rights. That includes: ensuring that all migrants have access to health, housing, education and other basic services; working to end the harmful practice of immigration detention by expanding alternatives measures; seeking to diversify the available safe and regular pathways for migrants to spare them from irregular and precarious journeys; ensuring safe and dignified returns, particularly during COVID-19, in accordance with international law, and that reintegration into countries of origin is sustainable and does not represent further risk.

These are some of our commitments to support GCM implementation nationally, regionally and globally.

Finally, I am pleased to see that many governments from different regions have already stepped forward as GCM Champion Countries. I welcome this encouraging commitment to make the GCM vision a reality. I hope that many more governments will follow suit and join this Champion Country initiative sooner than later.

We look forward to working with you and hearing your ideas for future Network priorities and for how we can better promote and implement a One UN approach to migration.

Together we can do better for migrants and our communities.

Thank you.