The Global Compact on Migration is an important starting point for improved global migration governance that puts
migrants and their human rights at the centre, UN human rights experts said on the occasion of today’s International
Migrants Day, December 18. The experts call on all States who have not yet done so to join this unique global
initiative, and contribute to its human rights based implementation.
Ahmadou Tall, Chair of the Committee for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their
Families, and Felipe González Morales, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, highlighted the
rights-based language found throughout the text committing States to take action in accordance with their obligations
under international law.
Migrant workers and their families must enjoy their human rights during their journeys, in schools and in workplaces
across the globe, asserted Mr. Tall. Sadly, he said, not only are migrants often denied the most basic labour
protections, personal security, due process guarantees, health care and, in the case of their children, birth
registration and education; they may also face abuses at international borders, and in some cases they risk being
trafficked, enslaved, sexually assaulted or even killed, Mr. Tall asserted.
According to the Special Rapporteur, States must ensure that the fundamental human rights of migrants are implemented in
both law and practice through the adoption of migration laws and policies in line with their commitments contained in
the Global Compact on Migration as well as their obligations under the international human rights treaty framework.
States need to develop and strengthen awareness-raising campaigns on the rights of migrants; knowledge of the positive
effects of migration will also help in countering the xenophobic and racist narratives that are being employed by too
many authorities, Mr. González Morales added.
Migrants can only protect their rights if they have access to effective complaint procedures and remedies in situations
where their human rights are violated, said Mr. Tall. States should also establish national human rights institutions
with broad mandates to handle complaints from migrants for violations of their human rights. States should
systematically inform migrants about the available judicial and other remedies available to them, in languages that they
Mr. González Morales added that States must ensure comprehensive protection for victims, including psychosocial
rehabilitation. Migrants must be able to exercise their right to access justice without fear of being detained and
deported and so States must ensure migrants’ access to police stations, courts and other public services such as health
care without fear of being detained or reported to immigration authorities.
States should also take measures to decriminalize the irregular entry and stay of migrants. Criminalizing irregular
entry into a country exceeds the legitimate interest of States parties to control and regulate irregular migration.
While irregular entry and stay may constitute administrative offences, they are not crimes per se against persons,
property or national security.
According to both experts, States that implement recommendations from the treaty bodies, Special Procedures and the
Universal Periodic Review further the commitments of the Global Compact on Migration and the Sustainable Development
Goals. When the human rights of all migrants are respected, migrants are able to realize their full potential and
contribute to the development of their new societies in so many meaningful ways. Respecting and protecting human rights
for all migrants plays a pivotal, transformative and empowering role in this regard.