Paying tribute to the contributions of migrants to their host and native countries on International Migrant's Day, observed on 18 December, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged States to protect itinerant workers' rights by supporting existing international agreements and upcoming events that focus on their plight.
"Our societies would be poorer without the contributions of migrants. Today, as we celebrate those contributions, let us also resolve to safeguard the human rights of every man, woman and child who crosses borders in search of a better life."
Kofi Annan also addressed the fact that the money migrants send back to their developing countries are vital for its residents.
"The remittances that migrants send to their home countries dwarf the amounts those countries receive in official development assistance."
Noting that to date only 34 States have ratified or acceded to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, he urged all states to become parties to it. He asked all State Parties to submit their reports on time and recognize the authority of the Committee on Migrant workers to consider complaints of human rights violations under the Convention.
He also called next year's High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in the General Assembly an opportunity to cooperate on migrant issues. He said he recent report of the Global Commission on International Migration provides important recommendations for that a discussion on effective migration policy, linking it to human rights, development, trade, aid and security.
"Migrants contribute skills, knowledge and manpower to their host communities. Their presence promotes exchange of ideas and stimulates cultural and scientific progress. Migrant labour, both skilled and unskilled, is critical to the success of large sectors of the economies of developed and developing countries alike."
There are around 185 million international migrants in the world today, more than double the figure of only 25 years ago, according to the UN High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR).
UNHCR points to globalization and the growing disparities in living conditions within and between countries as main factors that have contributed to the increase in the scale of international migration.
Besides providing essential services to the economies and societies of the countries they live in, the agency says that migrants also contribute to the development of their countries of origin by supporting their families and communities back home. Funds remitted in that way can surpass the amount of official development aid a developing country receives.
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