IMA Statement on Submission to UN HLD on Migration and Development

Statement – 15 July 2013

“Migration is a product of underdevelopment”

IMA: Development for the people, not for profit

The International Migrants’ Alliance, a global alliance of grassroots migrants organizations, will hand in a submission to the UN General Assembly High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (HLD).

Gathering endorsement and support from almost a hundred organizations and counting, this submission reflects the IMA’s position on the current global discussion on migration being deemed as a tool for development.

In the submission that will be handed over by IMA members participating in the HLD Interactive Hearing in New York this July 15, the IMA challenges the leaders of the U.N. to rethink the framework by which they look at migration vis-à-vis its links to development.

IMA contends that the current trend of migration is a product of underdevelopment. Many people are driven by sheer poverty, unemployment and hopelessness in their home countries to find work abroad. Instead of addressing these issues, governments manage and facilitate labor migration without the assurance of human rights protection for their nationals working abroad.

Management of migration is more profit-driven than it is rights-based. This is very clear in how the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) has put premium on remittances as a byproduct of migration that can be utilized for development but not discussing the worsening conditions that migrants, refugees and displaced peoples around the world face.

This is also seen in the growing number of cases of abuse, exploitation, discrimination, trafficking and other forms of violations committed against migrant workers that has never been in the center of the global migration discourse.

In Hong Kong, for example, foreign domestic workers are learning to collectively expose and fight illegal practices and abuses by recruitment agencies both from Hong Kong and from their respective home countries. The proliferation of these cases of illegal collection, overcharging, harassment and intimidation can be attributed to the inaction from respective governments whom the migrant workers first turn to for protection.

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, thousands of undocumented Filipino migrant workers had to set up camp and protest in front of the Jeddah and Riyadh offices of the Philippine Embassy before the Philippine government heeds their demand for repatriation.

In the submission, the IMA demands the global leaders the following actions: (a) instituting an international mechanism like a Universal Periodic Review for migrant workers that will aim to review how states follow instruments in the protection of migrants and refugees;  (b) promoting dialogues between countries of origins and destination to discuss attention for migrants in distress; (c) regulating private recruitment and financing agencies providing loans to migrants and prosecuting erring agencies; (d) adopting and implementing policies to protect migrants in vulnerable conditions; (e) reforming the framework of migrant-receiving countries that migrants are threats to national security; and (f) creating and amending laws to be consistent with relevant international conventions.

As the submission continues to gather endorsements, the IMA encourages the many civil society organizations to support this submission and carry the best interests of the migrant workers and refugees in their dealings inside the HLD.

Furthermore, the IMA will hold together with other organizations the 4th International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) in October, which will be parallel to the HLD. The IAMR is the parallel forum of the grassroots migrants that consistently challenges the GFMD and its neoliberal framework while exposing the conditions of migrants all over the world and advancing their causes.

This 4th installment of the IAMR aim to further raise the demands of migrants and challenge the global leaders in the U.N. to listen to them, involve them in the process and take these issues at hand. Some of the issues that will be focused on are Obama’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

In conclusion, IMA strongly believes that migration based on necessity should stop. The root causes of this form of migration should be addressed and resolved in the HLD while immediate concrete measures such as protecting rights of migrants should be developed.

Migrant workers, refugees, displaced peoples should take center stage in the upcoming HLD. For in all these discussions, they will be the ones most affected and they should be ones the leaders should listen to.


Eni Lestari, chairperson (+852-96081475)

Ramon Bultron, member of IMA International Coordinating Body (+852-27287536)

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