Statement by Margaret Pollack, Director for Multilateral Coordination and External Relations and Senior Advisor on Population Issues Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration the United States at the 46th UN Commission on Population and Development

Margaret Pollack
Special Advisor 
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration 
New York, NY
April 22, 2013


Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the United States, I would like to thank you and the bureau, as well as the Population Division and UNFPA, for your collective efforts to prepare us for the work of this year’s Commission on Population and Development. The theme of migration is as timely today as it was nearly twenty years ago when 179 member states joined consensus in Cairo on a Program of Action which recognized the important linkages between migration and development.

As a nation of immigrants, the United States takes great pride in our commitment to migrants, and supports orderly, humane, and legal migration as a positive global phenomenon. As many of you know, President Obama has made Comprehensive Immigration Reform a centerpiece of his legislative agenda and we continue to be encouraged by the ongoing progress.

Migration affects all countries and presents both opportunities and challenges that must be addressed in a spirit of cooperation and respect. Effective and humane international migration policies can enhance stability and security and promote human rights. This Commission and the upcoming High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development, provide opportunities for productive discussions on migration, including the dynamic relationship between migration and development and the implications of increased south to south migration. Ultimately, both processes have the potential to provide greater clarity on the issue of migration in the post-2015 development agenda. We also call for a meaningful and open dialogue with civil society as a part of our deliberations.

The United States fully supports multilateral and regional discussion and the sharing of best practices on international migration. We see the Global Forum on Migration and Development, now in its sixth year, as the most effective forum in which to advance these issues and we endorse the Swedish Chair’s approach to GFMD for 2013 and 2014, which takes into account the important feedback from the GFMD assessment process.

As the reports to the Commission note, demographic data on migration can be used to highlight and thus promote the vital contributions that migrants have made to countries. When applied appropriately, this information can help shape policies that address the needs of members of the most vulnerable migrant populations including women and children, stateless persons, migrant victims of crime, and migrants affected by crisis situations, such as natural disasters or major conflicts. Informed policy can also help countries fight xenophobia by demonstrating how migrants, in all their diversity, contribute to the growth of economies and the enrichment of society.

Mr. Chairman, nearly half of the world’s migrants are women. Although some are forced to move due to conflict, natural disaster, or political repression, many migrate in search of economic opportunities. Migration can be beneficial, both for the women migrants and for the economies and societies of the countries of origin or destination. Yet it can just as easily put them at increased risk of gender-based violence, exploitive labor conditions, human trafficking, discrimination, early or forced marriage, and sexual abuse and exploitation. And too often, women’s healthcare needs, including access to sexual and reproductive health care services, information, and education, are less likely to be met.

We also believe that special focus should be placed on the needs of other potentially vulnerable migrants, such as the disabled, LGBT persons, and adolescents and youth who represent a significant and growing proportion of the global migrant population. Many are in need of special protection and access to youth-friendly services; many also face legal or practical constraints in organizing and advocating effectively for change. We encourage States and international organizations to track the trends of women, young people, and other potentially vulnerable migrants and to work together, and with civil society, to develop policies that address their unique needs and situations.

Moreover, the Commission should consider the increased vulnerability of migrants in need of humanitarian assistance. The crisis in Libya highlighted the need for both governments and the private sector to protect third country nationals who become stranded, through no fault of their own. We applaud the efforts of the International Organization for Migration in developing their Migration Crisis Operational Framework which looks at critical data needed before, during, and after crises and considers the specific needs and vulnerabilities of migrants impacted by a crisis who fall outside of existing protection frameworks.

Finally, we must also consider the growing trend in crimes against migrants including kidnapping and other horrific abuses. We urge states to monitor, collect, and analyze demographic information on abuses and crime against migrants. These data can be used to develop strategies and legal mechanisms to identify criminals, take legal action, and respond to the needs of migrant victims of crime and those who suffer abuses.

In conclusion, Mr. President, we look forward to productive discussions with other delegations on these issues. Our deliberations this week can have a positive impact on the world’s migrants, on the achievement of the ICPD agenda and on the MDGs, and may help inform the design of future development frameworks. We are ready to work with other governments, civil society, and the international community on these shared goals.

Thank you.


PRN: 2013/57