Global Compact Consultation: Migrants Remit US$429 Billion to Countries of Origin in 2016
Photo by IISD/Mike Muzurakis
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The fourth in a series of six UN consultations to develop a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration considered migrants’ contributions to sustainable development through their remittances and skills.

Participants also recognized a need to overcome negative perceptions about migration and to base policies on evidence.

25 July 2017: During the fourth UN consultation toward a proposed Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, UN Member States considered migrants’ contributions to sustainable development through their remittances and skills. The UN noted the need to overcome negative perceptions about migration and to base policies on evidence.

Their discussion was the fourth in a series of six UN consultations on the proposed Global Compact. The consultation took place from 24-25 July at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on the theme of ‘Contributions of migrants and diasporas to all dimensions of sustainable development, including remittances and portability of earned benefits.’ There are three phases in the development of the proposed Global Compact: the current consultation phase, which is taking place from April-November 2017; a stocktaking phase from November 2017-January 2018; and intergovernmental negotiations from February-July 2018.

UN agencies highlighted migrants’ economic and social contributions, including the remittance of US$429 billion to their countries of origin in 2016.

UN agencies highlighted the economic and social contributions of migrants to their countries of origin and destination, including the remittance of US$429 billion to their countries of origin in 2016. UN Special Representative for International Migration, Louise Arbour, described such remittances as a tangible contribution of migrants to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries. She stressed that “the net benefits of migration outweigh its costs by a large margin,” and urged Member States to adopt migration policies based on evidence rather than on perceptions, noting that public perceptions of migration have often been negative. Arbour highlighted the role that migrants’ remittances play in alleviating and ending poverty, adding that this amount represents three times the value of official development assistance (ODA), and is more stable than other kinds of private capital flows. She called for lowering the transaction costs associated with remittances.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Director General, William Lacy Swing, urged Member States to make migration policy an integral part of development policy, including by ensuring that policies recognize migration as affecting all aspects of human development, including human rights and by fostering coordinated approaches to migration, such as by embedding migration in broader development strategies.

The two-day meeting included discussion of ways to make the most of migrants’ contributions, including providing migrants with incentives to invest their earnings, promoting ‘diaspora bonds’, supporting migrant entrepreneurs, skills development, and enabling migrants’ political participation.

The IOM organized two side events during the meeting: one on development partnerships, organized with the UN Development Programme (UNDP); and another on migrants’ contributions to cities, in partnership with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). IOM also launched an online ‘iDiaspora platform’ for people of diaspora communities to contribute their views about the content of the Global Compact.

The proposed Global Compact builds on the New York Declaration, which was adopted at the 2016 UN Summit on refugees and migrants. A multi-stakeholder consultation on the Global Compact took place in New York on 26 July, following Member States’ discussions. [IOM Press Release] [UN Press Release] [Web Page for Side Event on ‘Unlocking the Power of Diaspora: New Partnerships for Development’] [Webpage for Side Event on ‘Migrants’ Contributions to Cities’] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Stakeholder Consultations on Migration Compact]

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