International Development Law Organization
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4 Oct 2013


New York

Check Against Delivery

Madam President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The International Development Law Organization – the only inter-governmental organization exclusively devoted to advancing the rule of law – appreciates the opportunity to address this High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.

Migrants have been playing and continue to play an essential role in global development. The contribution they make to socio-economic development in countries of destination, through the transfer of ideas, values and skills is undeniable, though not always fully recognized. As to their countries of origin, figures speak for themselves: in 2012 remittances reached an estimated $406 billion, three times the size of official development assistance.

While the potential benefits of migration are easily recognized, they are too are often undermined by discrimination, unequal treatment and human rights abuses against migrants.

IDLO would like to express its deepest sympathies to the families and close ones of those who died yesterday in the Mediterranean. The loss of life in the waters off Lampedusa underscores the tragic globalization of human misery.

For millions around the world, migration offers the only hope of escaping grinding poverty and violence. But migrants – especially women and children – are some of the world’s most vulnerable people, subject to exploitation, abuse, and fatal accidents. The Lampedusa tragedy only makes it more essential to promote a global culture of justice and development.

IDLO supports the Declaration’s commitment to work towards an effective and inclusive agenda on international migration that integrates development and respects human rights; and firmly believes that the rule of law must be at its core.

Human rights are universal and inherent, irrespective of migratory status. Respect for human rights and the rule of law can lead to better and more sustainable development outcomes for all, including migrants.

Last year the General Assembly adopted an important resolution recognizing that “the rule of law and development are strongly interrelated and mutually reinforcing, that the advancement of the rule of law at the national and international levels is essential for sustained and inclusive economic growth, sustainable development, the eradication of poverty and hunger and the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms”. With regards to migration, it is important to remember two critical aspects of the rule of law: equality before the law and fairness in the application of the law.

Equality and non-discrimination must be translated into good laws, policy and regulations that further the rule of law and protect the rights of migrants. Unfortunately, in many cases, policies and regulations discriminate and criminalize migrants.

But good laws and regulations are not enough.

In particular, migrants from vulnerable groups often bear the brunt of compounding abuse and marginalization. Women and girls, a group which makes up half of the 215 million migrants around the world, are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, violence and exploitation.

A clear area where the rule of law can prove valuable is in improving migrants’ access to justice. The Secretary-General’s report “Violence Against Women Migrant Workers” highlighted many factors that inhibit women migrant workers’ access to justice, including gender bias in legislation, inadequate provision for monitoring, complaints and dispute resolution mechanisms, and discriminatory legal practices. This is exacerbated by a lack of information about security and justice mechanisms, as well as fears of detention, deportation and maltreatment if they bring a complaint forward.

Critical to ensuring access to justice are the practical steps that must be taken to remove barriers to rights and justice for those in vulnerable situations. In the case of migrant women, creating clear pathways of care and protection, including through the establishment of a networks of community supporters and safe spaces that provide information, counseling and legal assistance as well as hosting in case of danger, vulnerable migrant women are able to count on protection and access to justice in countries not their own.

Further, good rule of law frameworks based on the human rights principles of participation, accountability, non-discrimination, equality and empowerment can be powerful enablers for migrants, for example through the use of legal empowerment techniques, legal education and legal awareness.

We welcome the Declaration’s specific recognition of the need to prevent and combat trafficking. Our experience has shown that it is important to align domestic legislation on human trafficking with international standards, and equally important to build the regional capacity of the law and criminal justice enforcement sectors involved in the prosecution of human trafficking cases and increase access to justice for victims and groups at risk.

It is also critical to make victims and potential victims of human trafficking aware of their basic rights, to create networks of legal support for victims, and to provide them with direct and easy access to legal and paralegal services in shelters or at the first and most likely entry point where girls and others may be looking to be rescued from trafficking situations.

The rule of law and human rights can improve the lives of vulnerable migrants, particularly women. By empowering these groups and enabling them to have greater access to justice, IDLO believes that better, more inclusive and sustainable development outcomes can be achieved.

In order for development outcomes to be fair and sustainable IDLO strongly believes that the Post-2015 Development Agenda must tackle this key, cross-cutting issue of inequality – in other words, the new development agenda must “leave no one behind.”

As the adoption of a post-2015 Development Agenda draws nearer, IDLO is committed to playing its part to support the international community in framing an agenda that embraces the rule of law, human rights and justice to achieve fair, inclusive and sustainable development for all, including for migrants.