On June 6, 2006 presenting the report United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed a standing forum led by all 191 Member States which governments could use to share ideas and discuss best practices and policies related to international migration and how this phenomenon ties in with global development.
On June 6, 2006 United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed a standing forum led by all 191 Member States which governments could use to share ideas and discuss best practices and policies related to international migration and how this phenomenon ties in with global development.

Presenting a wide-ranging 90-page report entitled “International migration and development” to the General Assembly, Mr. Annan described the exhaustive study as “an early road map for this new era of mobility,” and said that “the advantages that migration brings are not as well understood as they should be.”

At the same time, Mr. Annan stressed that his proposal for a government-led consultative forum on migration and development would not produce negotiated outcomes or recommendations, but rather would make new policy ideas more widely known, add value to existing regional consultations, and encourage an integrated approach to migration and development at both the national and international levels.

In his Forward to the report, he also said that such a forum would “allow governments to establish a common understanding, based upon the best evidence, on the areas of migration policymaking that have the greatest potential to contribute to development.”

“Most of all, such a forum would maintain our focus on international migration issues, while signalling that international migration is a normal but crucial element in the development process.”

The report finds that migration has become a major feature of international life. People living outside their home countries numbered 191 million in 2005 – 115 million in developed countries, 75 million in the developing world.

One third of all current immigrants in the world have moved from one developing country to another, while about the same number have moved from the developing world to the developed. In other words, ‘South-South’ migration is roughly as common as ‘South-North,’ according to the report. But migration to countries designated as “high-income” – a category which includes some developing countries, such as the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – has grown much faster than to the rest of the world.

Migration is not a zero-sum game, the report finds. It can benefit both sending and receiving countries at once. Significantly, many countries once known for emigration – Ireland, the Republic of Korea and Spain among them – now boast thriving economies and host large numbers of immigrants.

It also recognizes governments’ right to decide who is allowed to enter their territory, subject to international treaty obligations, as well as their capacity to work together to upgrade economic and social benefits at both ends of the migrant voyage, and to promote the well-being of the migrants themselves.

Traditionally considered too controversial for a global institution to handle, the issue of international migration has recently been moving up the UN agenda. Last year, the independent Global Commission on International Migration presented a report and recommendations to the Secretary-General, while in 2005, the International Labour Organization adopted a non-binding Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration.