68th Session of the UN General Assembly Agenda Item 23: Eradication of Poverty and Other Development Issues

Published Date: 
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Speaker: 
Michele Klein Solomon, Permanent Observer to the United Nations

Mr. Chair, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

IOM appreciates this opportunity to address the Second Committee today, and would like to discuss some of the issues raised in the Secretary-General’s reports under this agenda item.

  1. Women in development (A/68/271)

First, we welcome the report on Women in development, and appreciate the recognition it gives to the obstacles many migrant women face in accessing social protection and decent work.

As the report rightly notes, women – both high-skilled and ‘unskilled’ – constitute an increasing proportion of cross-border labour flows. Indeed, women represent nearly half of the 232 million international migrants in the world today.

While the ability to migrate is generally empowering for women – offering opportunities to enhance their economic and educational outcomes, and providing greater autonomy – it cannot be ignored that migrant women also face specific vulnerabilities.

While on the move, women are more exposed to the risk of exploitation and gender based violence than men. Migrant women also tend to be more heavily deployed in low-skilled service sector jobs such as domestic work, cleaning and child care, thereby diminishing their chances of upward mobility in the labour market.

This consequently increases their rate of deskilling compared with migrant men and native women, even though several studies have shown that the number of migrant women with tertiary education is on par with migrant men in many regions.

Migrant women thus experience a “double disadvantage” because of their status as both migrants and women. IOM therefore emphasizes the commitment made by Member States in the Declaration of the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, to establish measures to protect women migrant workers in all sectors and to respect and promote international labour standards.

  1. Human resources development (A/68/228)

Second, we would like to highlight the important role migration can play in human resources development. The Secretary-General’s report notes that promoting the mobility of researchers and students is an essential component in this regard. IOM would certainly agree.

However, besides these groups, the migration of people generally is a powerful facilitator of human resources development and capacity building. Migrants in all sectors and skill sets can gain from increased access to education and training. Furthermore, migrants themselves offer new ideas and can foster innovation and trade, benefitting both their host and origin communities.

While the loss of certain skilled individuals can create challenges to origin countries – the so-called ‘brain drain’ effect – IOM emphasizes that robust policy can and does make a difference to how the impacts of migration are felt.

Efforts to promote human resources development for example, should recognize that migrant diaspora can make significant contributions to their home societies, even from the other side of the world. Diaspora should be empowered to make that contribution through policies that give them the tools and opportunities to do so.

  1. Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (A/68/183)

Finally, IOM takes note of the Secretary-General’s report on the Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. Regarding the creation of the post-2015 framework, the report highlights three points that for IOM are particularly important and that we would like to reemphasize here today.

First, is the call for a transformative agenda. Discussions to date have noted that we cannot follow a business as usual approach moving forward. We need to readjust our framework to take account of the trends and challenges that have intensified since 2000. For IOM, this means taking into account one of the most significant mega-trends of the 21st century: migration.

Second, the report refers to the need for a universal agenda. As has been said many times before, the new agenda must be universal in nature and must tackle exclusion and inequality. If we are truly to succeed in this objective, migrants, and in particular those who are most vulnerable – and I’ve referred today to the situation of many women migrants for example - must be given equal and specific inclusion in the new development agenda. Improved data collection and disaggregation is essential in this regard.

Third, the report notes the importance of building a new global partnership. If migration is to have positive development outcomes, it requires effective cooperation and coherence at the global, regional, and national levels. The international community should therefore aspire to transparent and cooperative global partnerships to maximise the positive impacts of migration on development, and to manage its risks.

Thank you.