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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS CLUSTERED INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON RIGHTS OF MIGRANTS AND ON EXTREME POVERTY

14 June 2016

The Human Rights Council today held a clustered interactive dialogue with François Crépeau, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, and with Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. 

Mr. Crépeau presented his report on the impact of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements on the human rights of migrants.  Although trade relations had significantly advanced economic growth, a constructive assessment of the ways in which the international trade regime had unfolded revealed deeply entrenched power unbalances and asymmetries.  States had to ensure that their trade agreements reflected their international human rights obligations, and refrain from ratifying agreements which undercut existing social protections.  The development of a proper global framework would provide migrants with better capacity to protect themselves and to access justice. 

Mr. Alston said until economic and social rights were given their full due, the international community would continue to struggle to address extreme poverty as a human rights issue.  Although there had been progress, the broader picture showed that in the overall political and economic trajectory of most States today, economic and social rights were either implicitly or explicitly marginalized or contradicted.  Even in countries where economic and social rights were constitutionally recognized, that had not led to significant follow-up action in most of those States.  The marginalization mattered, because inequality would not be tackled meaningfully without a sustained focus on economic and social rights. 

Chile and Romania spoke as concerned countries in response to Mr. Alston’s report on his country visits.

In the ensuing clustered interactive dialogue, speakers agreed that mobility had a positive impact on economic growth, and shared the Special Rapporteur’s view that mechanisms facilitating mobility had to protect the human rights of migrants.  Migrants were rights holders regardless of their migratory status.  While many countries underlined the need to address migration while giving particular attention to its root causes, others denounced restrictive migratory policies and stressed the importance of international solidarity and shared responsibility.  Speakers called for the universal ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and noted the importance of a global framework on migration.

With regard to extreme poverty, speakers underlined the importance of addressing economic, social and cultural rights on an equal basis with other rights.  Rampant poverty robbed people of a dignified life, they said, calling for the full realization of the right to development as the only way out of poverty.  Economic, social and cultural rights and particularly the right to development must be placed at the heart of the international community’s actions, including in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.  Speakers highlighted some poverty eradication measures they had taken at the national level, as well as some of their domestic efforts for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights. 

Speaking were Honduras, European Union, Dominican Republic on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, South Africa on behalf of the African Group, Costa Rica on behalf of the Platform for Human Rights Education and Training, Cuba, Ecuador, Greece, Benin, Costa Rica, Italy, Namibia, Côte d’Ivoire, Maldives, Malaysia, Belgium, Mexico, Spain, Albania, China, Turkey, Morocco, Russia, Portugal, Bolivia, Belarus, Ethiopia, India, Holy See, Togo, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Egypt, Council of Europe, Senegal, Australia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, South Africa, Armenia, Pakistan, Botswana, United States, Peru, Iran, Tunisia, Philippines, Niger, Kyrgyzstan, Panama, Kuwait, Republic of Korea, Libya, Angola, Bangladesh, Sudan, Canada, Nepal, France, Kenya, El Salvador, Venezuela, Paraguay, Eritrea, Ghana, Viet Nam and Sierra Leone.

The following national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations also spoke: Conseil National des Droits de l’Homme du Maroc, Commission Nationale des Droits de l’homme de la Mauritanie, Terre des Hommes Fédération Internationale, Save the Children International together with International Detention Coalition, Caritas Internationalis, Allied Rainbow Communities International, Action Internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la region des Grands Lacs, Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, Centre for Economic and Social Rights, China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, Franciscans International, Defense for Children International, International Islamic Federation of Student Organization, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural rights, China Society for Human Rights Studies and Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain.

The Council is holding a full day of meetings today.  At 5 p.m., it will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to health and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons. 

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants on the impact of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements on the human rights of migrants (A/HRC/32/40).

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights (A/HRC/32/31).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights - mission to Chile (A/HRC/32/31/Add.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights - mission to Romania (A/HRC/32/31/Add.2).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights - mission to Chile – comments by the State (A/HRC/32/31/Add.3).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights - mission to Romania – comments by the State (A/HRC/32/31/Add.4).

Presentation of Reports

FRANÇOIS CRÉPEAU, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, presented his report on the impact of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements on the human rights of migrants.  Although trade relations had significantly advanced economic growth, a constructive assessment of the ways in which the international trade regime had unfolded revealed deeply entrenched power unbalances and asymmetries.  In particular, trade agreements had favoured movement for high-skilled executives and expats, to the detriment of low-wage migrant workers.  He highlighted the need for robust and comprehensive international legal frameworks which acknowledged the structural demand for low-wage migrant labour across societies.  He stressed the need to analyse the interplay between the “push factors” causing people to leave their homes and the “pull factors” attracting them to certain countries, and to maximize opportunities resulting from increased trade and facilitated mobility.  States had to ensure that their trade agreements reflected their international human rights obligations, and refrain from ratifying agreements which undercut existing social protections.  The development of a proper global framework would provide migrants with better capacity to protect themselves and to access justice. 

Turning to his visit to Angola last month, he explained that he commended the “Comunidade dos Paises de Lingua Portuguesa” and recommended that it continued to develop regional mobility agreements that included human rights safeguards.  Continuing, he said that he had remained engaged on European Union border management, visiting Brussels in June 2015 to debrief European Union institutions, and conducting a follow-up visit to Greece last month.  Greece was under tremendous pressure to manage the Union’s external borders, he said, when other European Union Member States had closed their borders and were reluctant to assist.  In conclusion, he said that at the heart of migration were human beings who had fundamental rights and were entitled to dignity, regardless of their status.  Facilitated and well-regulated mobility mechanisms were necessary in trade agreements, to not only protect the human rights of all migrants, but also to optimally realize the numerous benefits that came when mobility and trade were properly enhanced.  

PHILIP ALSTON, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, presented his thematic report to the Council.  Until economic and social rights were given their full due, the international community would continue to struggle to address extreme poverty as a human rights issue.  Although there had been progress, the broader picture showed that in the overall political and economic trajectory of most States today, economic and social rights were either implicitly or explicitly marginalized or contradicted.  Even in countries where economic and social rights were constitutionally recognized, that had not led to significant follow-up action in most of those States.  A survey by the Centre for Economic and Social Rights of the Universal Periodic Review had revealed that while 37 per cent of all recommendations made in the Universal Periodic Review Process concerned civil and political rights, only 17 per cent related to economic, social and cultural rights.  The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund ignored both sets of rights.  Non-governmental organizations presented a mixed picture, with many groups doing “extraordinary” work at the national level, while economic and social rights remained peripheral and unintegrated to the largest international organizations.

The marginalization mattered, because inequality would not be tackled meaningfully without a sustained focus on economic and social rights.  The legitimacy of the human rights enterprise was threatened if a narrow and unbalanced set of priorities was reflected.  Putting economic and social rights back on the map meant laying a foundation through a framework of recognition, institutionalization and accountability.  His report suggested some of the ways in which that could be done. 

He then turned to describing his country visits, starting with Mauritania, which he visited in May 2016.  He said the challenges that Mauritania confronted were best illustrated by UNDP’s estimate that multidimensional poverty stood at 55.6 per cent nationally, with an additional 16.8 per cent living near multidimensional poverty.  The Government cooperated fully with his visit and his end of mission statement dealt with a range of issues that he hoped would be addressed in the future.  He would be presenting his final report to the Council at its thirty-fifth session.  Regarding his visit to Romania, he said that many officials there were in denial about the extent of poverty and the systemic discrimination against the extremely poor, particularly the Roma.  Continuing and enhanced anti-corruption efforts were central to the ability of Romania to eliminate extreme poverty and ensure that its citizens enjoyed their full range of economic, social and cultural rights.  Regarding his visit to Chile, which he had undertaken more than one year ago, he noted that while the country had taken “giant steps” forward in social and economic development, it remained a highly segregated and unequal society with unacceptable rates of poverty and extreme poverty.   
  
Statements by Concerned Countries

Chile, speaking as a concerned country, agreed that poverty had to be fought.  The Committee of Ministers on Social Development had a goal to improve social complementarity and improve justice and human rights.  An international plan for human rights was in the works.  One of the aspects of the fight was to tackle gender inequality.  Measures had also been taken to oversee wages and rights between men and women, and decriminalize abortion.  The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples and the National Council for Indigenous Peoples were working on these issues.  Chile had taken an important step on the law creating the civil union.  Chile continued to make progress in putting together a gender law and an initiative to ensure the rights of children. It affirmed the commitment of the Government to promote and protect human rights.  The fight against gender inequality was at the centre of the Government’s strategy. 

Romania, speaking as a concerned country, said all issues related to poverty and social exclusion were important for the Romanian authorities.  Two major plans had been adopted recently, providing an integrated approach to poverty.  They included training police in specific fields, development of toolkits, and the establishment of intercommunity teams.  In the field of education, four out of five sectoral strategies had been adopted and were in the process of implementation.  All measures were undertaken in a holistic way.  There was a strategic concept to prevent and combat torture.  There was also a strong political will to fight discrimination against Roma.  The central administration had four high ranking officials of Roma origin.  Significant steps had been made but took time.  Policies for Roma inclusion were part and parcel of all policies.  Around 10 per cent of the European Union Funds for Development in Romania were aimed at projects for Roma communities.  Romania was committed to tackling poverty issues, and it would take into full consideration the report of the Special Rapporteur.

Clustered Interactive Dialogue

Honduras expressed agreement that the mechanisms facilitating mobility had to protect the human rights of migrants, adding that States of origin, transit and destination had to join forces to ensure the rights of migrant workers.  European Union said that it remained committed to the protection of the human rights of migrants, adding that mobility had a positive impact on economic growth.  On the issue of extreme poverty, the question was asked which were the priority measures that States should apply to effectuate the recommendation to establish appropriate institutional arrangements.  Dominican Republic, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that migrants were rights holders regardless of their migratory status, noting also the progress made in the region in recent years.  Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, welcomed the report on poverty, noting the importance of an equal approach to the implementation of all rights.  On the report on migrants, it was noted that the report delved into a complex issue, and that many developing countries relied on remittances, and faced high unemployment.  The Syrian crisis had blurred the lines between migrants and refugees, and efforts were needed to curb those trends.

South Africa, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that it was paramount to address migration while giving particular attention to its root causes, particularly economic causes.  South Africa reiterated the importance of addressing economic, social and cultural rights on an equal basis with other rights, and expressed its support for cooperation and international solidarity in this regard.  Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Platform for Human Rights Education and Training, said that human rights education could enhance equality, social justice and non-violence, and looked forward to the high-level panel discussion to mark the fifth anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training, to be held in September 2016.  Cuba denounced restrictive migratory policies, racism and xenophobia, and stressed the importance of international solidarity.  It reaffirmed the need for developed countries to meet their pledges and commitments through sufficient financial support and technical assistance.  Ecuador called for the universal ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and lamented that some developed countries promoted the free circulation of merchandises while prohibiting the free circulation of people. 

Greece stressed its determination to continue to uphold the fundamental human rights of migrants and its international obligations, in particular in protecting the rights of the child.  Saving lives would remain the top priority for Greece; it would continue to fulfil its obligations stemming from the European Union-Turkey agreement.  Benin agreed with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and supported the creation of a mechanism to help them as well as the need to have targeted guidelines to build up capacity.  Benin urged the international community to ensure the effective implementation of the plan of action for least developed countries.  Costa Rica said that the human drama of migration required the establishment of a global framework for the control of migration and movement of populations, and should also include regional and sub-regional specificities.  Given the magnitude of the migration flow, Italy asked how States and other shareholders could respond to their needs on the principle of shared responsibility, and also how the Special Procedures and other human rights mechanisms could contribute to the effective implementation of the two International Covenants and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.  Namibia said that rampant poverty robbed people of dignified life and forced all to revisit the approach to the effective implementation of economic, social and cultural rights, while the full realization of the right to development was the only way out of poverty.  Côte d’Ivoire said that the liberation of trade was a way to economic growth and agreed with the Special Rapporteur on the need to create a regulatory framework which would ensure that migrants were not excluded from economic growth.

Maldives said international human rights law gave protection to all individuals regardless of their status.  Migrants, therefore, had to be protected and international cooperation was needed to ensure this protection.  The full realisation of human rights was the path towards coming out of poverty.  Malaysia concurred that ensuring economic, social and cultural rights was needed to combat poverty, and regretted that these rights continued to be marginalized.  Poverty had been significantly eradicated in Malaysia through a development strategy.  Belgium stressed the need to improve the indivisibility and universality of human rights and address the balance of economic, social and cultural rights versus civil and political rights.  It asked what measures had to be put in place to strengthen the confidence in public services?  Mexico agreed on the importance of adopting a labour mobility agreement, and allowing the access of migrants to enjoy economic migration.  Migrants were right holders and crucial to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.   Spain said that both dimensions of human rights were inseparable and appreciated that the Special Rapporteur had addressed the matter of the importance of economic, social and cultural rights.  Spain asked what role civil society could play in the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights?  Albania agreed that trade agreements should include the human rights perspective, as trade and migration were correlated.  Regarding poverty, it was important to reduce the gap between developed and developing countries.

China said that the topic of the human rights of migrants was very important given the expansion in the global refugee and migrant flows and suggested the inclusion of the analysis of the root causes in the report.  China was very concerned about the levels of extreme poverty around the globe and called for a greater enjoyment and recognition of economic, social and cultural rights.  Turkey, a host to 2.7 million Syrian refugees, agreed that the current approach to migration needed a deeper human rights-based approach and stressed the importance of opening regular migration options.  Tragic shipwrecks claimed many lives every day, most of them youth, said Morocco and, expressing concern about xenophobia and discrimination against migrants, called upon States to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families.  Economic, social and cultural rights and particularly the right to development must be placed at the heart of the international community’s action, including in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.  Extreme poverty led to wide-range violations of human rights, while sustainable development, peace and security were indispensable to eradicating poverty, said Russia and expressed concern about the recent European Union agreement for the collective return of migrants and asylum seekers without regard for their human rights.  Portugal said that the socio-economic integration of migrants was an important issue in Portugal, which was both a country of origin and of destination, and asked about the role of the Optional Protocol in the monitoring of the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  Bolivia agreed that economic, social and cultural rights must be treated with the same attention as civil and political rights, and that was why the Constitution of Bolivia upheld economic, social and cultural rights.

Belarus underlined the importance of addressing all human rights on an equal footing, without hierarchy, and presented national measures to realize economic, social and cultural rights.  Ethiopia concurred that extreme poverty profoundly weakened the enjoyment of all human rights, and presented poverty reduction measures it had taken at the national level.  It asked the Special Rapporteur to look into extreme poverty and the rights of migrants as factors of development. 

India stressed that States were obliged to promote the economic, social and cultural rights of all, including those of migrants.  The Indian judiciary played an important role in the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights and had an expansive interpretation of the right to life.  Holy See said it followed migration issues with concern.  It repeated the appeal of Pope Francis to stop treating migrants with discrimination and emphasised the importance the negative push factors of migration.  Togo said combatting poverty was one of the priorities of the Government.  It had recently adopted a strategy to that effect, the implementation of which had already given remarkable results in the agricultural gross domestic product.  Saudi Arabia said it had one of the most efficient social protection systems and was likewise one of the main contributors to development in the world.  Currently it was focused on implementing the National Strategy for Social Protection.  Switzerland said the international community had made a great deal of progress in relation to migrants.  Trade agreements and the agreements on mobility of labour had undeniable advantages.  The question was how to ensure their implementation.  Egypt said legal migration was one of the most effective ways to overcome illegal migration, and led to benefits and economic development in both countries of origin and destination.  Egypt was concerned that in spite of the recognition of economic, social and cultural rights, these were not ensured due to lack of adequate legislation.

Council of Europe noted the importance of the recent issuing of guidelines on unaccompanied child migrants, adding that the international community needed to work together to ensure that human rights were a common foundation for work.  Senegal expressed agreement with the analysis that the emergence of certain trade systems had accentuated the precarious situation of migrants.  On the issue of extreme poverty, Senegal noted that it affected millions around the world as a result of not taking into account economic and social rights in the global system.  Australia said that international trade agreements played an important role as regards the rights of migrants, adding that Australia was committed to ensuring that all within the country’s jurisdiction were treated with dignity, and looked forward to the visit of the Special Rapporteur later in 2016.  Indonesia said that the promotion and protection of migrant workers was one of the country’s top priorities, urging all to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.  Afghanistan said that national and global debates on migrants usually revolved around economic issues, adding that the conflict in Afghanistan was the main reason for migration; the country was facing a terrorist network which attacked its values and burned its schools, forcing pupils to become migrants.  South Africa expressed gratitude to the Special Rapporteur for underlining the imperative need for the justiciability of economic and social rights.  South Africa requested information on how to promote the right to development approach to the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda, as well as further information on how best the free market system could play a role in economic and social rights.

As a country affected by migration, Armenia was exploring the links between well-managed migration and sustainable development; migration played an important role in global trade with policies that regulated remittances.  Pakistan agreed that treating economic, social and cultural rights as human rights was essential to eliminating extreme poverty and said that it had launched an impressive social protection programme which provided cash transfers to women living in poverty, among other initiatives.  On extreme poverty, Botswana said that although economic, social and cultural rights were not legally recognized as yet, its policies were designed with the aim of lifting people from deprivation and ensuring their dignity.  How could countries address policy gaps in the absence of relevant institutions of legislation on economic, social and cultural rights?  United States agreed that trade could serve as a vehicle to advance human rights and social welfare and asked how legal resources to migrants could be made more available.  Free trade was not entirely negative, said Peru, noting the importance of regulating mobility and ensuring equity for migrant workers.  Iran agreed that more emphasis needed to be applied to the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights as human rights rather than treating them as mere goals.  Poverty must be considered a basic discrimination, which was conducive to all other inequalities.

Tunisia expressed its attachment to the universality and indivisibility of all human rights, and stressed that extreme poverty, as a violation of economic, social and cultural rights, deserved the full attention of the Council, which could make a significant contribution in that regard.  Philippines presented its economic programmes to address inequalities and to provide equal basic access to healthcare services.  Turning to migration, the Philippines underlined the obligation of States to protect the rights of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status.  Niger said that the precarious situation of migrants was a matter of great concern, and noted that States were required to lift barriers to migration and to engage in cooperation.  Niger had a national policy for combatting poverty and ensuring food and social security.  Kyrgyzstan shared the Special Rapporteur’s concern about restrictive migration policies, which increased risks faced by migrant workers.  It asked what measures should be adopted at the international level to improve the implementation and protection of economic, social and cultural rights.  Panama, as a country made up of migrants, underlined the necessity to improve the role of the International Organization for Migration, and called for the migration issue to be addressed through a rights-based approach.  In Panama, the private sector had participated in the implementation of migratory legislation and in the inclusion of migrants.  Kuwait highlighted the importance of concerted international efforts to combat poverty, including through the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.  Kuwait, through its humanitarian action and development aid, had made important efforts in combatting extreme poverty in developing countries.  

Republic of Korea said that the human rights based aspect had to be considered in trade relations, especially with regard to migrants.  Economic, social and cultural rights were an indivisible part of the social framework.  Libya, as a transit country, insisted on the need to protect the human rights of migrants, and called for an inclusive comprehensive approach that looked into the root causes of migration.  Libya placed great importance on social and economic development.  Angola said migration was a centuries old phenomenon, however, the current scale of migration required urgent solutions.  Efforts had to be made by the entire international community in this respect.  Bangladesh believed that all human rights must be treated in an equal manner, but a legal recognition framework was not the only solution to this.  Bangladesh noted the informal and irregular channels of migration and asked the Special Rapporteur what was the solution in order to put the whole issue of migrants under an international regime.  Sudan was a country of migrants that worked hard to provide them with assistance, in spite of the lack of resources.  Sudan was developing a strategic plan to fight poverty, however, the American unilateral sanctions imposed on Sudan aggravated the poverty situation.  Canada, as a country of migrants where more than one out of five citizens was born outside of Canada, attached high priority to the issue of resettlement.  It stressed the significant role of civil society in migratory movements.

Nepal said that migration contributed to economic growth and development in both countries of origin and destination, and stressed that all migrant workers must enjoy their rights and safe working environments.  The realization of the right to development could provide an enabling environment for the eradication of poverty and the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.  France agreed that extreme poverty hindered individuals from enjoying their economic, social and cultural rights and also civil and political rights and that was why it was working on eradicating poverty, both nationally and internationally, including in the framework of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.  Kenya observed that extreme poverty caused migrants to leave their countries and said that concerted action was needed to address the root causes of migration – poverty, conflict, inequality – and also to ensure the full enjoyment of their rights in countries of destination.  El Salvador shared the analysis offered by both Special Rapporteurs and, noting that free trade often brought negative consequences on the human rights of migrants, stressed that international and regional trade agreements, as well as strategies for the elimination of extreme poverty, must include human rights.  Venezuela expressed serious concern about the humanitarian crisis caused by migration flows and said that the inequalities that affected countries in the South - which often drove migration - must be corrected.  A priority must be given to eliminating poverty and fighting discrimination and exclusion.  In October 2015 Paraguay had adopted the national migration policy in consultation with civil society, the private sector and academia, and Paraguay was now in the process of adopting the law on migration which would regulate the integration of migrants, and seek the protection of their human rights and the highest levels of their wellbeing.

Eritrea concurred with the statement that economic and social rights were not accorded the same importance as civil and political rights, adding that Eritrea had been investing resources in the population residing in rural areas, and had registered progress on economic and social rights.  Ghana welcomed the report on migrants, which highlighted how trade systems disadvantaged migrants, noting that there was an urgent need for all stakeholders to address the exploitation of migrant workers.  Viet Nam said that much remained to be done to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, adding that millions of people around the world required basic aid every day to survive, and that the international community needed to take concrete action to ensure their access to social development.  Sierra Leone noted that migrants supported development in their own countries through remittances, adding that least developed countries should ensure that human rights concerns were paramount.

Conseil National des Droits de l’Homme du Maroc said that measures had been taken by Morocco to regularize the situation of migrants holding an irregular status, and that more than half of them were requested by women.  Clear progress had been made in Morocco on that issue, but the international community needed greater support to deal with challenges it faced in migration.  Commission Nationale des Droits de l’homme de la Mauritanie said that the indicator for poverty had actually increased over the past few years, and that the visit of the Special Rapporteur had been eagerly awaited, yet most poor people had been excluded from interacting with him.  A second visit to Mauritania was urged so that all stakeholders could be heard in better formats without stigmatizing any communities.

Terre des Hommes Fédération Internationale referred to the “Recommended Principles for Children on the Move and Other Children Affected by Migration”, which were intended to influence policy makers and improve the quality of protection afforded to all these children through enhanced programming, accountability, advocacy and communication.  Save the Children International, together with International Detention Coalition, raised concerns about the situation of unaccompanied children as a result of the European Union-Turkey agreement, and called on Member States to fully eliminate their unjustified detention, which was never in the best interest of the child.  Caritas Internationalis called on the Council to demonstrate strong leadership on the issue of migration, including during the upcoming high-level meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants, and called on the Council and its members to support the Global Compact aimed at sharing the responsibility of providing protection to those fleeing conflict, persecution, natural disasters, failed development or the effects of climate change.  Allied Rainbow Communities International noted the specific vulnerability of sexual minorities to discrimination, poverty and inequality, and urged States to treat socio-economic rights as full-fledged rights, and ensure accountability for related violations.  Action Internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs said that, despite the efforts by Greece, the security approach was insufficient to address the needs of migrants, and regretted that developed countries showed little enthusiasm to provide support to the migrants.  Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme said that it was essential to find a balance in favour of a rational management policy of international migration, through cooperation and through the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. 

Center for Economic and Social Rights said that economic policy trends had undermined the willingness and capacity of States to fulfil economic and social rights.  Given that less than one in five recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review focused on economic and social rights, Members States had to rectify the persistent imbalance in the recognition and institutionalisation of these rights.  China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation said China was the first country to reach the Millennium Development Goals and had made a great contribution to global poverty reduction.  The Foundation had raised $ 280 million cash and materials benefiting 25 million poor people and was now implementing advocacy programmes to eradicate poverty.  Franciscans International called the attention of the international community to the critical situation in Central America in terms of migrants and refugees.  It was time to stop differentiating between migrants and refugees.  Defence for Children International said every day all around the world millions of migrants were placed in detention centres simply because they lacked documents.  It urged Member States to stop the detention of children, and ensure that principles that were in the best interest of the child had priority over any policy.  International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations said people under foreign and colonial occupation were deprived of not only their political rights, but also their economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development.  Indian-occupied Kashmir was one of the regions where the Indian State had failed to respect its international obligations to enact policies to eliminate poverty.  Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture condemned United Nations Resolution 2216 that prevented Yemen from receiving medication, food supplies and other necessary supplies.  In this scourging heat many were living without electricity.  This was a violation of the basic human rights of Yemeni people.

Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights said that the failure by governments to pay sufficient attention to economic and social rights was particularly preoccupying in light of the importance of economic and social rights to realizing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.  China Society for Human Rights Studies said that migrant workers contributed to economic development both in their countries of origin and destination, noting that China was a major sender of migrants who engaged in a lot of high-risk work, and that destination countries needed to provide protective legislation for those workers.  Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain called attention to the ongoing and systematic abuse of migrant workers employed in the Gulf Cooperation Council, who used a system of sponsorship-based employment, asking the Special Rapporteur whether any of those States had sought his guidance in addressing those issues and which steps Gulf Cooperation Council States should take to more effectively combat abuses.  

Concluding Remarks

FRANÇOIS CRÉPEAU, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, thanked the delegations and said that the first thing to do for unaccompanied minors was not to detain them; States must find alternatives to detention and provide safe spaces for children, provide guardianship arrangements in order to protect the best interest of the child, and establish best interest of the child judicial procedures, since this was not the case in many countries.  Unaccompanied minors should be taken care of by the regular child protection services and not immigration authorities.  The political will was needed to implement those changes, said Mr. Crépeau, and stressed that migrants should be able to access public services without fear of being arrested.  In this sense, the Special Rapporteur had already proposed the technique of firewalls, which was being used by Portugal for example. 

The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda talked about facilitating migration and mobility and this was the key question: States should work on providing safe, cheap and legal migration solutions and so reduce the market for smugglers and traffickers.  Answering the question on how to combat xenophobia against migrants in the labour market, Mr. Crépeau stressed the need for political will to develop the appropriate discourse, and to develop diversity, anti-discrimination and anti-racism policies and laws.   Reducing the statutory precariousness of migrants was the first step in facilitating access to justice for migrants: many migrants were afraid to approach authorities for fear of being sent back home.  The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda gave some indications as to what could be done in terms of ensuring legal rights and access to justice: the Sustainable Development Goals were applicable to everyone, including migrants and illegal migrants.  Finally, the Special Rapporteur stressed that the kafala system must be abolished.

PHILIP ALSTON, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, thanked Chile for the various initiatives undertaken since his visit to Chile, and expressed appreciation for the engagement undertaken by the Romanian Government.  He did not agree with the allegations that he had not been able to meet with certain non-governmental organizations in Mauritania and replied that he had met with over 50 different organizations in four regions of the country. 

On the thematic report, the Special Rapporteur was gratified for having received strong support from a diverse array of States.  Noting that the South African and Indian experiences were important, he stated that it was not only courts that could promote and uphold these rights.  The role of national commissions was crucial.  On what more the Human Rights Council could do, there was a Group of Friends on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, who had a brunch in Geneva and in New York and with whom he proposed to meet.  The report by the Centre on Economic and Social Rights had shown that States should ask more targeted questions regarding social and economic rights.  There were always root causes, and future oriented solutions had to include not only the traditional rule of law type of institutions, but also address economic, social and cultural rights problems.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights could adopt a more targeted approach to these rights.  Regarding the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda, he reminded that many delegations during the debate had been against the inclusion of human rights.  Education, health, food  and housing were not characterised as rights.  Thus, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda had seen a concerted effort to keep social and economic rights out of it.  With regard to resources, which he considered important in relation to both sets of rights, he pointed to the work of the International Labour Organization on social protection floors in this respect. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC16/066E