Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mogens Lykketoft: UNGA President Says Migrants Are Entitled To Protection

Mogens Lykketoft (centre), President of 70th UN General Assembly; Left - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; and Right -Tegegnework Gettu, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

“All migrants are entitled to protection under human rights law,” President of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Mogens Lykketoft said in New York on Saturday.

This means that all people, regardless of their migration status must be treated in a humane manner with full protection of their human rights, Mr. Lykketoft said. 

He told the UN General Assembly during the closing of 70thsession on October 3, 2015 that “Migrants advance human development, enrich human capital and can bring significant social, cultural and economic benefits for countries of origin and destination. 

“That’s the reason why many countries have ambitious migration schemes and arrangements. The current crisis that the world is facing, related to migration and refugees, has been called the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. If that is the case then we have to realize that business as usual will simply not do. 

“That we have to find a response that is commensurate with the challenge. We will in short have to rethink, evaluate and possibly reorganize our way of managing this crisis, while we are addressing it.”

Migration has been a key topic of discussion at this year’s UNGA session following a recent upsurge in refugees and economic migrants from the Asia, Africa and the Americas trying to enter into Europe and the USA.

Mr. Lykketoft said he is encouraging Member States to be mindful of how the terms “migrant” and “refugee” are being used.  He says refugees are covered by a specific legal framework from which the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees predominantly emanates. 

“Countries have to offer protection to refugees in accordance with this [but] that is not the case with migrants. Countries decide their own migration schemes and can reject people moving in irregular ways. But that doesn’t mean that migrants are without protection,” said. 

Photo Credit: Reuters
Lykketoft said the UN Member States need better tools to support countries in advancing coherent and comprehensive migration policies. He said these policies must take into account that migration occurs in the context of complex societies and situations in receiving countries.

He said “while the 2030 Agenda addresses many of the causes of displacement, it will not provide us with immediate solutions to the global crisis we are facing today. This is a crucial point.”

“Today’s crisis is unprecedented. It is global in scope, presenting challenges in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas.  No country or region can address it on its own. We must all contribute to solving this crisis, whether we feel distant, or face the challenges of proximity,” he said.

 “We must ensure that this crisis continues to receive our focus and engagement and is our utmost priority. We must not allow our commitment to weaken. I have heard this message from all leaders during his week,” he added.

He said that the international community must do all it can to find lasting solutions to conflicts and violence around the world – whether in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe or elsewhere. “Unless we address the root causes behind this global crisis, we will remain in response mode – with challenges only ever increasing,” he said.

Lykketoft said May [2016], they will review their collective response and the future of the humanitarian system at the World Humanitarian Summit. 

These solutions are not easy, he says, but the UN was created 70 years ago with the fundamental purpose of promoting peace, protecting vulnerable populations and ensuring their human rights. 

Written by Modou S. Joof

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