Minister of Defence, National Security and Immigration Delivers Statement at the High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development

New York
Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fijian Minister of Defence, National Security and Immigration, Joketani Cokanasiga, delivered the lead statement at the inaugural meeting of the High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in New York today. Minister Cokanasiga spoke in Fiji’s capacity as 2013 Chair of the Group of 77 and China, delivering a statement prepared following consultations with the 133 countries that are members of the Group.

The High-Level Dialogue meeting follows on from last year’s Rio+20 Conference, where UN Member States agreed to include population and migration factors in their development strategies. In the Rio+20 Conference they had also resolved to promote the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants and to avoid practices that might increase the vulnerability of international migrants.

In his statement, Minister Cokanasiga emphasized that migrants and migration are relevant to all countries of origin, transit and destinations. He also said that these are global issues, with economic and structural imperatives. He told the meeting, “The economic causes of migration, concentrations of wealth and dual labour markets, benefit powerful interests and reinforce power structures that often blame, penalize and criminalize migrant workers who are caught in this web. The organizational and political challenge is to overcome these biased approaches and work towards facilitating orderly and safe mobility, recognizing that greater mobility is inevitable in the twenty-first century.”

The Minister further stressed that, “Migrants are responsible persons who are trying to earn a living and provide for their families.” On this note he said migrants should be aware of their rights and be protected by States, at the same time that States exercise their sovereign right to determine who enters, leaves or remains in their territory.

While speaking on the impact of migration the Minister said, the Group of 77 acknowledged that international migration often entails the loss of human resources in countries of origin and contributes to the political, social and economic tensions in countries of destination. To resolve this, international migration policies need to take into account the economic constraints of the receiving country, the impact of migration on host countries and its effect on the countries of origin. He also noted that the reintegration process of returning migrants to countries of origin has the potential of facilitating the transfer of skills, knowledge, new ideas, products, information and of contributing to cultural enrichment to countries of origin. 

The Minister’s statement concluded by stating that the increasing economic disparities, climate change, environmental challenges and demographic changes are factors that will continue to influence migration flows into the future, and that it is imperative to address these challenges and to maximize the benefits of migration, and minimise the negative impacts to migrants and their families, through constructive dialogue, cooperation and genuine bilateral partnerships.

Minister for Defence, National Security and Immigration Mr. Joketani Cokanasiga

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