Statement by IOM at the 55th Session of the Economic Commission on Social Development

Published Date: 
Wednesday, February 8, 2017


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3 a) Priority Theme: Strategies for the eradication of poverty to achieve sustainable development for all”


Mr. Chairperson, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

IOM is pleased to address this 55th session of the Commission for Social Development, and would like to offer our perspective on how migration is a tool to poverty eradication.

IOM welcomes the recommendations in the Secretary General’s report (E/CN.5/2017/3) and the strategies laid out to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development for all. We recognize the importance of poverty eradication as a central tenet of the 2030 Agenda and its pledge to “leave no one behind”.

We are concerned however, that the issue of migration has received only passing recognition in the Commission’s deliberations and in its outcomes in the past, despite being reflected in a number of the commitments and goals outlined in the Copenhagen Declaration, as well as in the SDGs and other major frameworks adopted in the past three years.

Yet, migration can be a critical tool to poverty eradication, and should be reflected in strategies that are oriented towards that objective.

In the context of promoting inclusive and equitable growth for example, it is important to recall that migration is the world's oldest "poverty reduction strategy" and a driver for economic growth. It is often a part of a larger household strategy that seeks to diversify income streams, as is evidenced through the use of migrant remittances.

Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that in the long-run, migrants help to expand the tax base, energize labor markets and generate new demand for goods and services.[1] Therefore, migrants can become key drivers in the sustainable development of societies and in poverty eradication.

Migration is also relevant to efforts to promote coherent social policy frameworks to ensure no one is left behind. This is critical, because despite the many positive benefits of migration, the current state of governance and policy development on migration breeds vulnerabilities and prevents migrants and states from reaping its full benefits, often a result of inconsistent or discriminatory policies and practices.

It is imperative for States to adopt policies to avoid the social exclusion of marginalized groups including migrants. Socially excluded people are often denied the opportunities available to others to improve their livelihood and escape from poverty on their own.

So, even though the economy may grow and general income levels may rise, excluded people are likely to be left behind, and make up an increasing proportion of those who remain in poverty.[2] The situation of many migrants around the world – especially poorer and lower skilled migrants who often bear exorbitant financial, human, and social costs – reflects this.

In order for migrants to meet their full potential and to contribute fully to their host societies, they must therefore be empowered to do so by addressing the barriers that undermine their integration. Investing in people and promoting empowerment, combating inequality, promoting employment and decent jobs, and enhancing social protection to reduce vulnerability and build resilience, are all objectives that should be carried out with migrants in mind.

Mr. Chairperson,

In conclusion, IOM would like to reiterate its call for Member States to adopt policies focused on promoting the benefits of migration to poverty eradication. The reality is that migration brings huge benefits, fueling growth, innovation and entrepreneurship. When governed humanely to promote safety, order and dignity, migration has endless advantages. It provides opportunities, and raises incomes, living standards and can alleviate societies from poverty. 

In this context, IOM urges the Commission to better reflect the benefits of migration in its future outcome deliberations and documents. IOM is committed to assist and provide its full support to States, the Commission and other stakeholders in this effort.

Thank you.



[1] Migration And Refugees In Urban Areas, Habitat III issue Papers (2015)

[2] Department for International Development (2005)