71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Item 21: Globalization and interdependence [(b) International migration and development]
The delegation of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
“International Migration and Development”
18 October 2016
My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered by the distinguished representative of the Kingdom of Thailand on behalf of G77 & China.
International migration is increasingly making an impact on poverty alleviation and development efforts of countries of origin and destination. The 244 million international migrants in 2015 worldwide is testimony to that.
The continued growth of international migration, a structural reliance on migrant labour, and the continued recovery of the global economy, will combine to fuel migrant remittances of at least $500 billion annually.
Today, unprecedented levels of human mobility occur as a result of a much integrated globalized economy and the ease of travel. These new levels of human movement have complex implications for both North-South and South-South relations and economies. To address the effects of these complex dynamics, we must adopt global approaches, involving both developed and developing countries, states of origin as well as destination.
Global policy efforts, therefore, must focus on better cooperation and dialogue among countries. Such efforts must address issues such as promoting fair burden-sharing, facilitating remittance flows, protecting labor rights, including fundamental human rights of migrant workers, and promoting a safe and secure working environment for migrants.
In this context, the inclusion in the 2030 Agenda of targets that cover the aspects of migration, such as protecting the rights of migrant workers and promoting safe and secure working environments is encouraging.
Migration and remittances have a micro and macro level impact on the Sri Lankan economy, with nearly 1.7 million Sri Lankans working or living abroad. Remittance inflows account for approximately 8 % of GDP and play a counter cyclical role when the country face domestic shocks.
The profile of the Sri Lankan migrant worker has been gradually shifting towards more professional and skilled worker categories.
We are also making continuous progress in improving the skill levels of our migrant workers.
A number of programmes and schemes have been implemented in order to ensure the dignity, security and equity for Sri Lankan nationals seeking employment overseas. These programmes include insurance schemes, scholarships for children, assisted repatriation in the event of need, medical facilities, pre-departure training and managing return migrant. Every Sri Lankan leaving the country in pursuit of employment is registered and is provided with these benefits.
Sri Lanka ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families in 1996. Sri Lanka was elected to the 14-Member UN Committee on Migrant Workers in 2009 and again in May 2013 to serve a four-year term. We will continue to contribute towards strengthening multilateral policy frameworks, and share our experience with the global community.
For the Rights of Migrant Workers Convention to become an effective instrument in protecting the rights of these workers, it is essential that all labour recipient States become Parties to the Convention and implement its obligations in good faith.
As one of founding members of Ministerial Consultation on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labour for Countries of Origin in Asia, the Colombo Process (CP) which consists of 11 labour sending countries, Sri Lanka always shares experiences, lessons learned, policy frameworks and best practices on overseas employment with other member countries.
Fourth Senior Officials’ Meeting of the Colombo Process was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 24th August 2016 under the Chairmanship of Sri Lanka. This meeting highlighted the migrant worker’s contributions to the economic growth and development which is increasingly becoming critical for their own countries, as well as a catalyst for the upward socio-economic mobility of the people in the region.
Even though the migration patterns are more complicated today, protecting the rights of migrants is essential. We need to pay special attention to the diverse migration impacts resulting from the feminization of international migration in this regard.
We call upon Member States to support the protection of migrant worker rights in a more proactive manner. This would allow us to utilize the full potential of international migration to achieve sustainable development.