Countries need to be reminded they are built on diversity, says UN Deputy Secretary-General

7 August

19 July 2016 – United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson today called for an alternative narrative on migration, where human mobility is seen as a positive development and a driver for economic prosperity and social progress.

A narrative “that recognizes the inherent worth of each individual, and welcomes the vast contribution migrants make to economic and social progress as well as for the diversity of societies,” the Deputy Secretary-General told the Global Forum for Migration and Development which was meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York.

“We also need to be reminded in today’s world that our nation states are built on diversity and recognition of minorities,” Mr. Eliasson added.

He urged participants and the UN to address the factors that lead people to leave their homes, saying that people vote with their feet.

“Migration is a fact of life in our interconnected, highly mobile, world,” Mr. Eliasson noted. “They want to invest their talents, their children’s futures and their money where they see the best opportunities.”

That also means that no one should be forced to migrate against his or her wishes, and risk exploitation and abuse in search of a better life.

The briefing came as Member States are preparing for a Summit on Refugees and Migrants to be held in New York on 19 September, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Transnational criminal networks and human trafficking will be on the Summit’s agenda.

In his briefing today, Mr. Eliasson also linked migration with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which range from eliminating poverty and hunger to providing quality education and taking urgent action against climate change.

He said implementing the SDGs will give all people “the chance to fulfil their potential without being forced to cross borders.”

The Global Forum was initiated in 2007, as a result of the 2006 UN High-Level Dialogue on International migration, and the UN participates in many of its meetings, but it is not an official entity of the UN system.

S. M. Karlen