New York (epo). - With the number of international migrants now standing at nearly 200 million - equivalent to the fifth most populous country on earth, Brazil - and set to increase in the years ahead, there is a vital need for enhanced cooperation at both the national and international levels, according to a United Nations-backed report issued today.
"The international community has failed to capitalize on the opportunities and to meet the challenges associated with international migration. New approaches are required to correct this situation," says the report of the 19-member independent Global Commission on International Migration launched by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and a number of governments two years ago.
Receiving the report at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Annan said migration poses "one of our most important challenges" in the 21st century and stressed the need to manage it for the benefit of all - sending countries, receiving countries, transit countries, and migrants themselves.
"I agree with the Commission that we are not rising to this challenge yet. But I am convinced that we must do so, in order to uphold common values and promote shared interests," he said of the study, Migration in an interconnected world: New directions for action.
The 85-page-long report sets forth six Principles for Action, ranging from ensuring that migrants enter the global labour market in a safe and authorized manner to enhancing greater cooperation among States to stem irregular migration while not jeopardizing human rights.
They call for making migration an integral part of national, regional and global strategies for economic growth in the developing and developed world, protecting migrants? human rights and labour standards, promoting regional cooperation, and spurring adaptation and integration that accommodates cultural diversity and fosters social cohesion.
Without mentioning specific examples, the Commission notes that the linkage between migration and security has become an issue of even greater international concern. "Recent incidents involving violence committed by migrants and members of minority groups have led to a perception that there is a close connection between international migration and international terrorism," it says.
While acknowledging that destination countries may have "legitimate concerns" about the presence of migrants, the report also points to their stabilizing influence, such as the contribution labour migration has made in many parts of the world towards security and political stability by reducing poverty levels, curbing unemployment and expanding the opportunities available to the population.
The report stressed the close linkages that exist between migration and development and other key policy issues, including trade, aid, state security, human security and human rights.
When he launched the Commission in Geneva in December, 2003, Mr. Annan said the independent panel, co- chaired by Jan Karlsson, former Swedish Migration Minister, and Mamphela Ramphele of South Africa, a managing director of the World Bank, would help promote greater public understanding about migration, a debate which has "generated more heat than light" in some countries.