“Migrant rights must be respected, protected and fulfilled at every stage”—Lakshmi Puri

Remarks by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri during the Thematic Workshop on Connectivity–Migration–Business at the Ninth Global Forum for Migration and Development in Bangkok, Thailand on 29 March, 2016

Date: Tuesday, March 29, 2016

[As delivered]

Ms. Lakshmi Puri, UN Women Assistant-Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director participates in the GFMD Thematic Workshop on Connectivity, Migration and Business at UNCC Bangkok. Hosted by the Embassy of Bangladesh to Thailand. Photo: UN Women/Pathumporn Thongking
Lakshmi Puri, UN Women Deputy Executive Director, participates in the GFMD Thematic Workshop on Connectivity, Migration and Business at UNCC Bangkok. Hosted by the Embassy of Bangladesh to Thailand. Photo: UN Women/Pathumporn Thongking

Honourable Ambassador Md. Shahidul Haque, Foreign Secretary and Bangladesh GFMD 2016 Chair,
Co-chair Honourable Ms. Begum Shamsun Nahar, Secretary-in-Charge, Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment (MoEWOW), Bangladesh,
Honourable Members of the GFMD Troika,
Honourable Mr. AKP Mochtan Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN,
H.E. Ambassador Virasakdi Futrakul Deputy Foreign Minister of Thailand,
Mr. Hongjoo Hahm Deputy Executive Secretary of UN ESCAP,
Ambassadors, Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me representing UN Women and more importantly on behalf of the 18 members of the Global Migration Group (GMG), to be in this region and to be supporting the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in expanding the agenda of migration and development and in making sustainable development work for all in the context of migration. The GMG is here to support you on this, and what better place than the Asia Pacific region to bring this discussion to fruition?

The thematic focus of this workshop could not have been timelier, as this is the first year of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This year, we have the World Humanitarian Summit which has a strong connection with migration as well as the 19 September UN Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants prior to the General Assembly.

We live in a globalized world characterized by increasing human mobility, migration across borders for reasons other than economic security, ever greater socioeconomic and political interactions across diverse sectors and regions, and a world in which regional and global trade agreements are playing an increasing role in connecting people, businesses and states.

Thanks in part to advances in transport, information and communication technologies, there is greater connectivity both in terms of physical connectivity, institutional connectivity and people to people connectivity further facilitated through trade agreements. Households develop networks of inter- and intra-household connections in the context of complex translocal livelihoods. Connections created by migrants become vehicles for the transfer of both economic and social remittances as well as knowledge, technology and skills through person-to-person exchanges as well as business-to-business transactions.

UN Women’s focus as GMG Chair is to engender the migration and development discourse. Migrant men and women play a key role in development and have rights which must be protected.

In my inputs today as GMG Chair, I would like to speak of a few “I”s which resonate with today’s remarks by other GMG Members during this morning’s GFMD-GMG breakfast meeting:

  • Inspiration - The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides inspiration for ensuring our renewed engagement on the multiple facets of human mobility, and to identify factors which hinder the effective governance of migration which would be beneficial for migrants and nations.
  • Inclusion - The integration of migrants in societies and as such the discussions in this meeting on social connections in line with sustainable development goal (SDG) 16 become critical.
  • Innovation - For people, businesses and states to benefit from connectivity, there is a need for innovative ways to reduce the economic and social costs of migration as well as to reduce transaction costs of remittances.
  • Investment - There is an urgent need for increased investment, including through public private partnerships, for the effective governance of migration.
  • Indivisibility - Migration is an integral part of development. A comprehensive approach to migration must be adopted to avoid selectivity and fragmentation in implementation efforts, with the most challenging targets being neglected for political or financial reasons.
  • Impact - Businesses should be enablers of connectivity. Migration can be an enabler of equitable, inclusive and sustainable social and economic development that connects and benefits countries of origin, transit and destination. In order to ensure migration has a positive impact, the human rights of both migrant women and men must be respected, protected and fulfilled at every stage of the migration cycle. Women have specific needs and vulnerabilities as they are discriminated against even in home countries. The economic empowerment of women, including migrant women, is important to meet the SDG 1 of eradicating poverty.

The state has the primary responsibility to establish the enabling environment for safe migration and decent work for migrant workers. This includes adequate and enforced regulation of migrant worker contracts to ensure safety and decent work terms and conditions. In this regard, public private partnerships are essential and these must be grounded in international norms and standards. Migrant men and women are agents of sustainable development, but they are also bearers of human rights which must be protected.

In the Concept Note for this Thematic Meeting, the GFMD highlights the importance of linking connectivity to social, cultural, economic and political inclusion of migrants. This is in line with current discussions within the GMG. In fact, this year in spring the GMG will produce a policy paper on gender, remittances and financial inclusion that will focus on new remittance platforms. We believe they are key to facilitate diaspora contributions to sustainable development in areas of origin of migrants, particularly through technological skills development, trade and the establishment of new businesses.

The GMG stands ready to support GFMD Member States, the international community, business and the private sector, in close collaboration with other important stakeholders such as trade unions and civil society organizations, including those representing migrant workers, and migrants themselves in their efforts to foster greater global connectivity and migration for sustainable development.

There are three key policy directions for labour migration, connectivity, and business:

  • Expanding remote working opportunities;
  • Offering more safe and legal pathways for migration; and
  • Reducing transaction cost of remittances.

Let me conclude by informing you that the Agreed Conclusions adopted just last Thursday, 24 March, in the context of the 60th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), stressed the importance of a Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including two paragraphs on migrant women. The text:

  • Acknowledges the positive contribution of migrant women workers for inclusive growth and sustainable development (paragraph 10);
  • Recognizes the contribution of migrants, including women migrant workers to sustainable development; acknowledges the need to eliminate violence and discrimination against women migrant workers; and to promote their empowerment including through international, regional or bilateral cooperation among all stakeholders, in particular countries of origin, transit and destination (Strengthening normative, legal and policy frameworks, paragraph i)

The 2030 Agenda presents a unique opportunity to enhance the connectivity and promote the economic empowerment of all migrants, calling on all stakeholders to work together to ensure that no one is left behind. The GMG is fully committed to contribute to the realization of this ambitious agenda and it underscores the importance of targets and indicators that reaffirm a commitment to people-centred, human rights-based and gender-sensitive approaches to migration.

Thank you.

The GFMD Thematic Workshop on Connectivity, Migration and Business at UNCC Bangkok on 29 March was hosted by the Embassy of Bangladesh to Thailand. Photo: UN Women/Pathumporn Thongking
The GFMD Thematic Workshop on Connectivity, Migration and Business at UNCC Bangkok on 29 March was hosted by the Embassy of Bangladesh to Thailand. Photo: UN Women/Pathumporn Thongking