Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
on the Move
102, December 2006
H.E. MSGR. NICHOLAS DIMARZIO
AS HEAD OF THE DELEGATION OF THE HOLY SEE
HIGH-LEVEL DIALOGUE ON INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT*
(New York, 15 September 2006)
It is clear from our discussions over these two days that migration is an
essential element of the interdependence and exchange among nation states that
forms part of the phenomenon of globalization. It forms people in a global
dimension and in new relationships of interdependence, while the growth of the
global economy depends more and more on international migration. But migration
is also a great source of human concern, since it involves the lives and dignity
of many hundreds of millions of people.
UN policy on migration is based on the unique dignity of the human person. This
leads us to say that the migrant must never be seen as an object of migration,
but rather its subject.
One of the most controversial elements of this topic is that of irregular
migration. The Holy See recognizes the sovereign right of nations to determine
who may enter and who may remain in a given state. At the same time, states have
a grave duty to protect the rights of all persons, be they irregular migrants or
not, and to cooperate in readmitting those who are obliged or wish to return,
whether they are voluntarily or involuntarily returning to their home countries.
A migrant's legal status is quite separate from his or her human dignity, since
all of them without exception are endowed with inalienable rights, which can
neither be violated nor ignored.
Both sending and receiving states have a responsibility to respect and implement
commitments to international human rights law to ensure the protection of all
migrants. It falls to states to guarantee the rights of individuals: the
issue however, tends not to be a lack of law, but rather a lack of its
As for authorized and long-term migrants, their full integration is required to
enhance social harmony and cohesion and to maximize the contribution that
migrants make to their new society. Migrants should respect the cultural and
religious identities of the host nations and the rights and duties constituted
by citizenship, and be encouraged to integrate socially as well as contribute
economically in their receiving countries. The public perception of migrants
also needs to be improved through courageous political leadership and much more
informed, dispassionate media coverage.
One particular concern of the Holy See is the situation of migrants who are
forced to migrate against their will, not only refugees, but also those who are
trafficked, many times for immoral purposes and human slavery.
They are the most vulnerable of what have become known as irregular or
undocumented migrants. These situations should indeed be an embarrassment to
today's globalized world. Rightly, there are few who would defend such a
practice, and therefore stopping it could be the beginning of a real
international cooperation in this field, for it is only through international
cooperation that this issue can be addressed and eventually solved.
Of all the issues before states in this High-level Dialogue, perhaps the most
difficult one is that of the governance of migration. Important national,
regional and international decisions in areas such as development, trade and
labour markets are rarely considered in terms of their impact on migration. More
effective consultation between governments and other stakeholders is required if
coherent practices are to be developed. In this regard, it is our belief that,
if states were to cooperate more broadly with one another, they would be
exercising rather than diminishing their sovereignty. This is a critical hiatus
in states' approach to migration today.
It is true that regional consultative migration processes are underway around
the world and have many achievements to their credit, but they often focus too
much on border control and omit the issues of migrant rights and development.
Perhaps if they interacted more with one another on a trans-regional basis,
there would be the beginnings of a more effective international
So far, progress has been made in developing informal consultative processes
among governments at the regional level, but my delegation agrees with those who
believe the time is ripe to consider developing a global consultative process
that would allow governments who so wish to forge constructive approaches to
transform the positive potential of international migration for development into
a reality. This global process would build on regional processes and serve as
the link between governments and the Global Migration Group, in order to ensure
that the activities of the UN system, together with IOM, are mutually
reinforcing and lead to a sum truly greater than its parts. It would be a
standing body involving governments with first-hand experience in addressing
migration challenges. In order to accommodate concerns, we also believe that
such a forum should be states-driven, voluntary and non-binding in its
consultations. In this context, we welcome the offer to hold a meeting next year
in Belgium to look into this initiative.
Already in the preparation for this High-level Dialogue, there has been
increased exchange at the national level and improved cooperation and coherence
among the different government agencies dealing with the nexus between
international migration and development. Periodic participation in a global
consultative process could maintain and improve upon current coordination,
increase coherence at the national level and guide the formulation of more
coherent policies to make international migration an effective tool for
Hopefully, the recommendations of the Global Commission and the report of the
Secretary-General on International Migration and Development will also be taken
seriously. For its part, the Holy See will continue to work closely with the
Global Migration Group, just as it did with the Geneva Migration Group.
To sum up, Madam President, root causes must be tackled so that people are not
obliged to leave home in order to find decent work; migrant protection,
especially of refugees and those who are trafficked or smuggled, must be better
addressed; regularization is needed for those who deserve it or give their
contribution to the host society, even if they have arrived in an undocumented
or unauthorized manner, in order to foster a proper cultural, social and
juridical environment capable of overcoming the persistent phenomena of
discrimination, violence, human trafficking and xenophobia.
Moreover, we encourage states to participate in regional migration groupings
which have grown up around the world.
Only through international collaboration and an honest assessment at home of the
benefits of migration will this phenomenon be addressed in a way that is decent
Thank you, Madam President.
Da L’Osservatore Romano
N. 221 (44.363), 24 settembre 2006, p. 2.