Migration Should Not be Politicized, Warns General Assembly President

  • by Miroslav Lajcak (united nations)
  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018
  • Inter Press Service

This was the case for generations before us. And it will be the case for generations to come.

And we need to respond accordingly. Not with ideas or theories. But with facts. Data. Information. And evidence.

These are the tools we need. They allow us to better understand migration. They tell us how and where, and why, it happens. They help to flag both the opportunities and the risks it creates. And they enable us to develop effective, targeted policies in response.

That is why, during the Global Compact's consultation phase, we heard repeated calls for more disaggregated data on migration. And that is why I am so glad that we are meeting here, to discuss this vital issue.

But, we cannot just look at the benefits of a fact-based approach. We must also be aware of how dangerous the alternative is. And that is the second point I want to make today.

When facts and information are absent, a vacuum develops in their place. But it does not stay around for long. Because there are too many actors, waiting on the side lines, ready to step in. And, the vacuum can quickly be filled by emotional rhetoric, politicized messaging, or even hate speech.

This can stoke tensions. It can encourage racial discrimination or xenophobia. And it can open, or widen, fault lines within and between societies.

And so, the risks that come from neglecting an evidence-based approach are grave.

However, let us be clear. This does not mean that the facts and data on migration will always be positive. Nor does it mean that an evidence-based approach will put us all on the same page.

Migration is a complex issue. Every person has a different experience with it. And so, every person has a different position on it. An evidence-based discussion will not change that. Legitimate concerns will remain. Legitimate differences will remain. But as long as they are based on real facts and real information, they can lead us to real dialogue. And, they can form the basis of effective partnerships.

And, as my third point, I will focus on this question of partnerships.

It is not up to one person, or one entity, to promote an evidence-based approach. We all have a responsibility.

Governments, in particular, must play a major role. They have the power to make decisions and form policies. And, they have the responsibility to do so based on the latest, and most concrete, analysis and information.

And we must focus on the roles for the private sector, civil society, regional organisations and, indeed, the United Nations. All of these stakeholders can act as crucial sources of data and facts. And they can be drivers and promoters of an evidence-based discussion.

Furthermore, an objective media is key. Because, it can distil sometimes technical, or complex, data down to information products, which are accessible to wider audiences.

We must do more to build partnerships between all these key players. We need to establish closer links between those who collect data, and those who distribute and analyse it. We need to design platforms for information-sharing.

We need to cooperate to ensure that data collection and disaggregation receives proper funding and support. And, we need to open channels of dialogue and experience-sharing between global, regional and national levels.

And, here, I want to give special thanks to the partners who worked so hard to fuel process so far with facts and information. In particular, I want to acknowledge the International Organization for Migration, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the UN entities in the Global Migration Group – though there are many others which played a key role.

As I said, we are discussing a crucial topic. And, we are doing so at a crucial time.

Yesterday, I opened the intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact on Migration. In doing so, I told all Member States in the room that the process now lies entirely in their hands.

And, the same is true, here, today. You may represent different entities, with different perspectives. But the power to ensure that we take an evidence-based approach lies in all of your hands.

You can be the sources. You can be the promoters. And you can be the champions.

You can do all of this individually. But, you will be more effective together. And, the United Nations is here to support you along the way.

© Inter Press Service (2018) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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