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On 4 December 2000, the UN General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants Day.
Ekklesia is pleased to use this occasion to note the fundamental importance of migration, the enormous benefits it has brought innumerable societies, as well as the genuine challenges that forced or coerced migration causes.
This is an issue we have been concerned with for many years, arguing that migrants should not be scapegoated for a range of other problems faced by societies in transition; that the core issues of economic and social justice, as well as war, human rights abuses and climate change, are frequently unjustly loaded onto migrants; that discourse about migration is deeply imbued with racist and xenophobic assumptions; that migration is core to the story of religions, not least Christianity; and that policies on migration need to be rooted in humanitarianism, openness to the other, justice, mutuality, and a bias towards enabling rather than preventing the free movement of peoples. This requires proper regulation of capital, armaments and other flows that threaten, marginalise or limit the dignity and stability of persons and communities. It also requires active support for refugees and asylum seekers.
Some of our work in this area is linked below. More importantly, this is a good occasion to commend the excellent work of our friends at Praxis (http://www.praxis.org.uk/), PICUM (http://picum.org/) and elsewhere.
But back to the founding of International Migrants Day: On 18 December 1990, the General Assembly had adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
UN Member States and intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations are invited to observe International Migrants Day through the dissemination of information on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants, through the sharing of experiences and the design of actions to ensure their protection.
The 132 Member States that participated in the General Assembly's High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development on 14-15 September 2006 reaffirmed a number of key messages.
First, they underscored that international migration was a growing phenomenon and that it could make a positive contribution to development in countries of origin and countries of destination provided it was supported by the right policies.
Secondly, they emphasised that respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of all migrants was essential to reap the benefits of international migration. Thirdly, they recognised the importance of strengthening international cooperation on international migration bilaterally, regionally and globally.
* International Migrants Day: http://www.un.org/en/events/migrantsday/
* 'Dignity has no nationality' - a powerful Migrant Manifesto by Musa Okwonga: http://youtu.be/y19CbyE41vo
* Migration news and comment from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/migration
* Migration: 'Why a broader view is needed', by Vaughan Jones. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12034
* 'Are immigration controls moral?', by Vaughan Jones. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/research/280405immigration
* Praxis, an important NGO working with vulnerable migrants and displaced peoples: http://www.praxis.org.uk/
* PICUM - Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants: http://picum.org/Tweet