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Statement by Mr. O.L. Ameer Ajwad, Counsellor,Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka under Agenda item 3: Promotion and Protection of all Human Rights, during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapportuer on the human rights of migrants, Mr.Jorge Bustamant

Mr. President,

Let me, first of all, thank Mr. Bustamante, Special Rapportuer on the human rights of migrants through you for his useful report and update.

Mr. President,

Migration and human rights are increasingly major issues of concern for the international community today. There is an estimated 200 million migrants world over, women accounting for half this number.

The time has no doubt come for the international community and for the peoples of the world to revisit and re-emphasize their basic human obligations to fellow human beings; who are migrants, migrant workers and members of their families. For this purpose, there is an urgent need to focus on a rights based approach for labour migration with a view to preventing any room for treating labour migrants as commodities.

At present, migrant workers and members of their families suffer mostly from the lack of focus on a rights based approach in international migration. We need to recognize unequivocally that migrant workers and their families above all, are human beings with rights and are active agents in every society, developing or developed, working and contributing towards their progress and economic-well-being.
The question of migrants in the first place, therefore, must be approached from a perspective of rights in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and obligations under core human rights treaties, in particular the Migrant Workers Convention.

Mr. President,

The Migrant Workers Convention is a broad based instrument. It aims at assisting Governments in developing strategies to prevent illegal migration movements. Part IV of the Convention contains provisions on the promotion of sound, equitable, humane and lawful conditions in connection with international migration. In particular, Article 68 requires States to collaborate in order to prevent and eliminate illegal or clandestine movements and employment of migrant workers in an irregular situation. When discussing migration management, therefore, the Convention due to its comprehensive nature, is extremely relevant as guidance to States.

Despite the intrinsically progressive nature of the Convention, ratification remains far below expectations. Parties to the Convention are still predominantly labour sending States. It is unfortunate that no western State has yet signed or ratified the Convention. This brings us the question as to why the Convention has met with insufficient enthusiasm on the part of many States, especially those States that usually champion human rights issues. The Convention is not an instrument for a more liberal immigration policy, rather it only seeks to ensure that all human rights are accorded to migrant workers too, in recognition that they are also part of our large human family.

In this backdrop, Mr. President, one of the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur in his report under discussion is that I quote: ‘States should incorporate international human rights norms into their national immigration laws and policies. In this context, States who have not yet done so should ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families..’ end of quote.

Mr. President,

At the time when we preparing to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 2008 and a year‑long United Nations system‑wide human rights advocacy campaign has been launched under the theme ‘Dignity and justice for all of us’ to mark this historic milestone, I have two questions for the Special Rapporteur through you Mr. President:

1. What measures the United Nations and its partners should take with a view to advocate and promote a right based approach for migrants?

2. What steps the UN and its stakeholders including NGOs and Civil Society Organizations should take to urge States that did not sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families to do so?

I thank you

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