I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and will address the two following sub-items:
On International migration and development:
CELAC highlights that international migration is a multidimensional reality of major relevance for the development of countries of origin, transit and destination, and in this regard, recognize that international migration is a cross-cutting phenomenon that should be addressed in a coherent, comprehensive and balanced manner, integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development and respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, regardless of their migration status.
We are certain that the most adequate framework to carry out a comprehensive follow-up on Migration and Development is that provided by the United Nations, in particular by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. These bodies are mandated to follow up social, humanitarian and development matters, based on the sovereign equality of States. CELAC countries recognize, as well, the role of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on International Migration and Development in the promotion of the linkages between the United Nations and the Global Forum on Migration and Development. We also recognize the efforts of the Global Migration Group aimed at strengthening their cooperation, enhancing their engagement with Members States and civil society and engaging jointly in work at the country level. We further recognize the work and technical cooperation provided by the International Organization for Migration.
CELAC Member States highlight the need to promote conditions for cheaper, faster and safer transfer of remittances in both source and recipient countries, and underscore the importance of reducing by less than 3% the transactions cost of migrant remittances and eliminate remittances corridors with cost higher than 5%. We further stress that remittances can not be considered a substitute for foreign direct investment, ODA, debt relief or other public source of financing for development.
We would also like to highlight the increasing reversal of migration flows between the Latin-American and Caribbean region and the developed countries, which not only includes the return of migrants to their country of origin, but also the arrival of migrants from these developed societies. We also acknowledge the complexity of migratory flows and that international movements also occur within the same geographical regions and from South to South and, in this regard, we call for a better understanding of migration patterns across and within regions and subregions.
While acknowledging that Governments have the right to formulate and implement laws and policies to regulate the flow of migrants in and through their territories, CELAC regrets the adoption of laws or regulations, at any governmental level, that criminalizes the act of migrating. In this regard, we encourage Member States to respect the dignity and human rights of migrants, regardless of their migration status. CELAC urges all States, to eliminate laws that stimulate unsafe migration causing the loss of life of persons.
Celac Member States strongly condemn the acts, manifestations and expressions of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against migrants and the stereotypes often applied to them, including on the basis of religion or belief, and recognize the need to improve the public perception of migrants and migration, and in this regard urge States to apply or reinforce the existing laws when xenophobic or intolerant acts, manifestations or expressions against migrants occur, in order to eradicate impunity for those who commit those acts.
CELAC recognizes the complex circumstances migrants are facing in their routes towards the destination countries, as well as the increasing vulnerability in terms of violation of their human rights. Therefore, we believe it is necessary to ensure that migration is orderly, safe and informed. In this context, we reaffirm that human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, regardless of their migratory status, should be effectively promoted and protected, especially those of women and children, while avoiding approaches worsening their vulnerabilities.
CELAC expresses its concern about the large and growing number of migrants, especially women and children, including those unaccompanied or separated from their parents, who are placed in a vulnerable situation by attempting to cross international borders without the required travel documents; and recognize the obligation of States to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants and their families, especially those of women and children, regardless of their migration status.
CELAC Member States are committed to intensifying measures aimed at preventing and combating trafficking in persons, prevent and combat migrant smuggling and protect migrants from exploitation and other abuses and ensuring full protection and care for the victims of these crimes, especially women, children and adolescents. At the same time, we stress the need to establish or upgrade, as appropriate, national and regional anti-human trafficking policies and to reinforce cooperation on prevention, prosecution of traffickers and the protection of victims of trafficking and encourage Member States to ratify, accede to and implement relevant international instruments on preventing and combating trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.
CELAC recognizes the importance of the right of migrants to a safe voluntary return to their countries of origin and the need to create domestic, social and political conditions to provide opportunities for them.
Celac Member States underline the important role that migrants play as partners in the development of origin, transit and destination countries. In this regard, we stress the need to facilitate circular mobility through reducing the fees paid to recruiters, enhancing portability of social security entitlements and other acquired rights and promoting the mutual recognition of educational and professional qualifications and competencies of migrants.
Finally, CELAC underlines that migration needs to be considered in an integral manner during the negotiations for the establishment of the Post 2015 Development Agenda and therefore, we call for including this topic with an inclusive and comprehensive perspective, with due regard to the promotion and protection of Human Rights of migrants.
On Culture and sustainable development:
Our region is characterized for its cultural diversity. Within each country there is tremendous demographic diversity in terms of peoples including indigenous peoples, afrodescendants as well as peoples of european and asian ancestry, among others. Hence the importance we attach to recognizing culture as an enabler and a driver of sustainable development. In the the first CELAC Summit, in 2013, our Heads of State and Government stated that progress in the cultural integration and unity of our region is one of the purposes of our Community.
In that sense, CELAC hold the First Meeting of Ministers of Culture of CELAC in 2013 and issued the Paramaribo Declaration with the specific objective of advancing towards cultural integration in the region, preserving the cultural biodiversity and heritage, as well as in promoting culture for achieving economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development.
CELAC countries further adopted this year in Havana, the Special Declaration on Culture as a Promoter of Human Development and highlighted its contribution to the integration of our peoples, preserving and promoting its multi-ethnic, multicultural and multilingual character. Cultural diversity should be respected as an integral part of the identity of each nation. In this regard, CELAC ratifies its support to the UN General Assembly Resolutions 65/166 and 66/208 on Culture and Development, and commit to work for due consideration of culture in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
CELAC recognises the importance of promoting cultural policies that promote values such as respect for life, human dignity, multiculturality, the principles of justice and tolerance, and that convey rejection of violence as a constituting element in the construction of a culture of peace.
Furthermore, CELAC advocates for the exchange of methodologies that enable a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the real impact of culture and creative and cultural industries in the economies and social development of our countries. This effort could lead to the establishment of cultural information systems that promote more efficient decisions by the States for consolidating culture as a tool of development and social advancement, from a national and regional perspective.
CELAC also reaffirms the need of developing support and financing schemes for cultural projects, including, inter alia, cultural small and medium-sized enterprises, cooperatives and associations of artisans as complimentary paths for cultural entrepreneurship.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, we support the necessary measures to safeguard traditional knowledge and wisdom that are part of the Latin American and the Caribbean identities, and express that our Governments will continue working on the struggle against illicit trafficking in cultural properties in the region, and the promotion, recovery and safeguard of the tangible and intangible heritage of our countries.