February 2013: The Fifty-first Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD)

One way our Committee participated in the 2013 Commission for Social Development was through a side event.  The priority theme of CSocD this year was “promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all,” and side event we hosted was titled “Promoting the Contributions and Human Development of Migrants Through Social and Economic Inclusion.”  The event was 13 February 2013 from 1:15 to 2:30 in Conference Room B of the North Lawn Building.

The discussion served to emphasize that migrants’ rights are a necessary component and focal point in the story of the “social developing” of the world—a goal of CSocD and the UN generally, of course.  Areas of needed social (and human) development are brought starkly into view by considering the realities migrants and would-be migrants face.  Migrants contribute to development (by remittance flows, by transfers of knowledge and skills, and by creating diaspora bonds, among others), and yet migration as a phenomenon includes many development challenges (such as “brain drain” and human rights violations suffered by migrants in destination or transit countries, especially the undocumented).  Greater detail on what was presented by the panelists is provided below.

1.  Bela Hovy (Chief of the Migration Section of the Population Division of UN DESA—the Department of Economic and Social Affairs) outlined the information just given, on how migrants both contribute to development and suffer examples of further needed development, as well as gave a quantitative-driven overview of international migration and its effects.  His presentation can be accessed here.

2.  Maria Pia Belloni-Mignatti (of the World Organization for Early Childhood Education—OMEP) focused on rights widely denied to child migrants, especially in the area of education.  She named the occurrences in international migration, all too common, that result in the limiting of child migrants’ education.  These include fear of deportation (which causes the family to want to keep people in the home) and poverty (which forces children to go to work).  She also stressed the important of early childhood education, remarking both: that migrants (more than native-born) tend not to receive it, and that migrants who do receive it have a much better outlook than those who do not.  Her presentation can be accessed here.

3. Corann Okorodudu (of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues—SPISSI) described the human-development challenges that need particular, forceful intervention for the sake of migrants.  These targets for intervention are: racism (including xenophobia), gender discriminations (as women and girls who migrate face a much higher risk of exploitation), and age discrimination (as, she says, “there are special vulnerabilities for migrants at every stage of the lifespan”).  She also explored the question, “What would the empowerment of international migrants for human development look like?”  It entails, the presentation purported, (1) ratifying the core human rights instruments, (2) rights-centered legislation, (3) having destination countries appreciate the human and social/economic value of their migrant populations, and (4) acknowledging that there is great interrelation and interdependence in matters of the rights of migrants.