Cablegate: Linking Migration and Human Rights: Preparing for Expanded


DE RUEHGV #0048/01 0211423
R 211422Z JAN 10



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: The nexus of human rights and migration is set
to be the focus of discussion in a number of separate fora, both
governmental and non-governmental, during 2010. The U.S. often
finds itself on the defensive in many of these bodies, especially
the Human Rights Council. U.S. policy goals in the area of
migration are to promote safe, orderly and humane migration,
forestall contentious and often wasteful discussion of new
normative institutions for global migration "governance" (either
within or outside the UN system), and strengthen national
commitments to international humanitarian law that protects
populations of concern (e.g., refugees, unaccompanied minors,
victims of human trafficking.) To be successful in these goals,
the U.S. needs to be active and creative in the international
debate and to build coalitions with like-minded countries,
including some traditional source countries of migration. As a
major destination country for migrants from around the world, and
the largest resettlement country for refugees, as well as a major
contributor to migration dialogues and counter-trafficking programs
worldwide, the U.S. has a good story to tell on these issues. We
can only tell it, however, if we are at the table. End Summary

2. (U) The following international or non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) are planning to discuss some aspect of the
migration and human rights linkage during the coming year. (The
list excludes UNHCR, which as part of its formal protection mandate
for refugees and other vulnerable migrants discusses human rights
during its annual Executive Committee session.)

-- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: OHCHR has identified
migration as a thematic priority in its Strategic Management Plan
for the 2010-2011 biennium;

-- The Global Forum for Migration and Development (GFMD): Mexico,
as current GFMD chair has signaled its intention to expand the
human rights discussion at the Forum's fourth session in Puerto
Vallarta in November 2010;

-- GFMD Civil Society Days: The NGO annex to the GFMD's
government-to-government discussions has discussed human rights of
migrants since its inception;

-- International Dialogue on Migration (IDM): The annual policy
dialogue of International Organization for Migration (IOM) member
states, IDM's theme for 2010 is Migration and Social Change. The
early draft agenda for the first intersessional includes a
discussion of human rights of migrants, especially in regard to
temporary and circular labor migrants;

-- The International Catholic Migration Commission: ICMC recently
held an informal "conversation" on global governance of migration
that includes a human rights component.

3. (U) This intensified activity virtually guarantees that the
subject of human rights and migration will receive continued
international attention between now and the UN High-level Dialogue
(HLD) on Migration and Development scheduled for 2013.



4. (SBU) OHCHR's draft 2010-2011 strategic management plan
includes "Protecting Human Rights in the Context of Migration" as
one of its thematic priorities. High Commissioner Pillay presented
a strategy paper to member states in December 2009 that set out her
priorities in this area: bringing a human rights perspective to

international debates on migration policy, combating
discrimination, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance toward
migrants, promoting the economic, social, and cultural rights of
migrants, addressing the detention and criminalization of irregular
migrants, and understanding the impact of the global economic
crisis on migration.

5. (SBU) OHCHR's strategy paper lists the following nine
anticipated results which the agency hopes to achieve over the next
two years:

-- Compliance of domestic migration policies with "international

-- Ratification of the International Convention on the Protection
of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families
(ICRMW) by more UN member states;

-- Increased national mechanisms to monitor, investigate, and
address violations of migrants' human rights;

-- Increased access of migrants, especially women, to basic social

-- Improved compliance by states with UN human rights mechanisms
with regard to "migrants' rights"; (described further as OHCHR
support for the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of
migrants, and enhanced training and technical assistance for ICRMW
parties to help them fulfill their obligations under the

-- Expanded engagement with, and training for, local and national
human rights organizations to promote migrants' rights;

-- Better integration of human rights standards and principles,
especially as they relate to migration, into national and regional
human rights laws or institutions;

-- Improved responsiveness by the international community to
migrants' rights;

-- Integration of human rights standards and principles into the
work of international and regional processes on migration.

6. (SBU) Reflecting OHCHR's role as coordinator of the steering
committee for ICRMW ratification, many of the proposed activities
seek to promote the Convention. Unfortunately, given the inherent
weaknesses of the Convention and the fact that relatively few
migrant destination countries have or are expected to ratify it,
Human Rights Council discussions that focus on the ICRMW are
unlikely to lead to concrete improvement of the social or economic
conditions of vulnerable migrants or persons of concern.

Global Forum for Migration and Development


7. (SBU) Since its inception in 2006, the Global Forum has
included a strong human rights component in its deliberations.
Many GFMD members, especially those that are sources of significant
numbers of migrant workers, are vocal advocates of the view that
improved human rights protection for all migrants is a critical
prerequisite for countries to receive the full developmental
benefits of inward or outward migration. At the 3rd GFMD session
in Athens in November 2009, one of the roundtables explored "the
combination of rights and services needed to support and empower
migrants in their host countries, and enhance their capacities to
contribute to development." It also expanded past GFMD debates on
migrant integration to a temporary or circulating migrants, who are
often less able to exercise their basic human rights or access
services available to permanent immigrants. The roundtable
recommended, inter alia, countries seek ways to improve integration
programs for migrant communities through better education and
training with a particular focus on protection in the workplace, in

order to protect migrant workers from discrimination, abuse and

8. (SBU) Mexico, as 2010 GFMD Chair (and an active proponent of
migrant issues in various UN bodies), has already indicated it
wants to have an expanded human rights discussion at this year's
meeting. Mexican Geneva Perm Rep said in December his government
believes it is impossible to have a meaningful global dialogue on
migration or development outside of a framework of human rights.
However, he also emphasized that Mexico, as a country that is
historically sensitive to intrusions on its sovereignty, does not
believe human rights of migrants includes an "unrestricted right to
cross borders at will." Mexico hopes, however, the GFMD can
"break through some of the clich????s" that have largely defined past
international discussions of the human rights and migration nexus.
He agreed that before discussing new or expanded international
legal frameworks for the protection of the human rights of
migrants, it would be useful to look for ways to improve
implementation of existing instruments.

International Dialogue on Migration


9. (SBU) The International Dialogue on Migration recently
completed a year-long series of workshops on the theme Human Rights
and Migration. In 2010, the IDM theme will be Migration and Social
Change, which will include a number of human rights related topics.

10. (SBU) The subject of the March 2010 workshop will be
"Transnationalism", which the International Organization for
Migration (IOM) defines as the trend of individuals identifying
with, or holding socio-cultural ties to, more than one country over
the course of a lifetime. Included in an early draft of the
workshop agenda is a session entitled "Protecting the Social and
Political Rights of Transnational Migrants" that will explore
differing national approaches to dual nationality, the differing
political and social rights host governments accord to permanent
and temporary foreign residents within their territories, and
innovative measures to enhance the social and political
participation of migrants in both communities of origin and
destination. A separate session will look at the impact of
transnationalism on families, including families separated when one
parent migrates for economic reasons, and the growing challenges
that arise as a result of the extension of family ties across



11. (SBU) Non-governmental organizations are increasingly involved
in the global migration debate, often as strong advocates for
greater international protection of the human rights of migrants.
At least two non-governmental fora are scheduled this year which
will explore the linkages between migration and human rights.

12. (SBU) GFMD: Concurrent with the governmental GFMD meeting each
year is a parallel Civil Society Days (CSD) event that brings
together more than 100 national and international NGO's to
discussion the same agenda as the government session. The 2009 CSD
report called for providing all migrants with the same protections
as those given host country citizens, actively informing migrant of
their rights and obligations, and expanding access to health care
and labor protections. GFMD Chair Mexico has already said it wants
to expand the role of the CSD this year to include an opportunity
for civil society observers to attend all GFMD sessions. If that
occurs, it is certain to lead to a more expanded discussion of the
issue of human rights with the full Forum session.

13. (SBU) ICMC: The ICMC mission statement says the organization
advocates for "rights-based policies that serve and protect
refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants, and other
uprooted persons." ICMC in December 2009 hosted what it billed as
a "conversation" on the topic of global "governance" of migration.
Some participants at that session argued that a new international
structure was needed to address alleged "governance gaps." Others
insisted a more effective strategy to improve international
cooperation on migration issues would seek to strengthen existing
entities, such as regional consultative processes or the GFMD.
Such a decentralized approach, they claimed, would take account of
the different migration patterns that exist in various parts of the
world and avoid a "one size fits all" approach to global migration
issues. ICMC is considering sponsoring additional seminars on this
topic in New York and Washington in the coming months.

Adopting a Proactive Strategy


14. (SBU) The variety of planned discussions of migration and
human rights over the coming months will provide both challenges
and numerous opportunities for the U.S. to move the global debate
on migration issues in a positive direction the U.S. needs to
formulate a strategy for participation in these events.

15. (SBU) The core of such a strategy would include:

-- Avoiding, as much as possible, defensive responses and
proactively seeking to build a caucus of like-minded countries on
the range of migration and human rights issues;

-- Seeking to focus discussion on strengthening implementation of
existing conventions rather than creating new international
agreements or institutions;

-- Exploring with other donor countries ways to expand assistance
programs and other cooperative projects that assist developing
countries to cope with increasing irregular and mixed migration

-- Promoting enhanced understanding of the obligations of parties
to the 1951 Refugee convention and subsequent protocols so as to
reinforce with all parties their obligation to prevent refoulement
and involuntary return and encourage greater cooperation with UNHCR
on protection issues of populations of concern.

16. (SBU) The European Commission office in Geneva has expressed
interest in working with us in using the opportunity of migration
related discussions in the HRC and other fora to promote practical
programs to enhance understanding of and enforcement of countries
existing obligations toward migrant workers, refugees and other
temporary residents as a way of as a way of deflecting attention
from efforts to promote a new legal instrument or to create a new
global migration governance institution.

© Scoop Media

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