New York, Nov 4 2009 9:10AM
In an era where people are crossing borders in greater numbers seeking better opportunities, it is more vital than ever
that States safeguard the rights of migrants, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a high-level gathering in Athens today.
“Let us never forget than in the end, policies and laws are really about people and values,” he said in his remarks to
the opening of the third Global Forum on Migration and Development.
The Secretary-General noted that the number of international migrants today is greater than at anytime in history, with
214 million people living outside their country of birth.
Highlighting the good that such mobility can generate, he said that, when managed well, global migration greatly
improves human welfare and development. Also, migrants contribute to development in their homelands by transferring
remittances and transmitting new ideas and technologies.
Meanwhile, in countries of destination, migrants fill gaps in labour demand and skills to make the economy more
“But we have work ahead of us,” he told the gathering. “Around the world, migration is often the subject of shrill
debate – a wedge to provoke social tensions, drive political extremes, fan the flames of discrimination and hatred.
“We cannot yet say that the development potential of international migration is being fully realized. We cannot yet
declare that the rights of migrants are being fully respected.”
He noted that the conditions in which many migrants move and live continue to be “treacherous,” that human trafficking
and sexual exploitation are disturbing realities and, in many parts of the world, migrant workers still face appalling
Mr. Ban called on all countries to work together to tackle migration, highlighting three challenges that add to the
urgency for action – the economic crisis, climate change, and the scourge of human trafficking, particularly of women
“As we look to these challenges, we recognize that in many ways
, migration is not just a journey of people – it is a journey of policy,” he said.
“Our destination is a global system of mobility that allows people to move in legal, safe and orderly ways – with full
respect for their dignity.”
While in the Greek capital, Mr. Ban is also scheduled to address a special session of Parliament and meet with senior
Government officials, including Prime Minister George Papandreou and President Karolos Papoulias.