VIENNA, Sept. 5, 2017 – “This is our rendezvous with history,” said IOM, UN Migration Agency’s Director General William Lacy Swing during an address to UN Member States today (05/09).

Referring to the intergovernmental process to adopt a global compact for migration, Director General Swing stated that “we have been building up to this moment for three decades and we must not miss this opportunity.”

Director General Swing was speaking at the fifth thematic session of the global compact discussions, which focused on combating migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons. He called on States to implement the commitments made through several declarations and dialogues, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustain Development.

“There is no lack of political will or legal protection for migrants,” said Director General Swing. “The gap is in implementation.”

Legal protection must be underpinned by “a fundamental shift in public perception of migrants and migration,” said Director General Swing, “putting respect for the human rights of migrants at the core of all our action.”

He encouraged States and the public to work together to expand migration channels and fight trafficking, with a greater focus on social justice issues.

“Xenophobia and hate speech put migrants at risk and deprive them of their rights and their dignity,” he noted.

“I have personally witnessed the appalling plight of thousands of migrants languishing in detention centers across the world,” Director General Swing continued. “More needs to be done to open regular and safe migration routes and to prevent migrants from falling into the hands of smugglers who will violate their human rights.”

In September 2016 the UN General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, through, which its Member States committed themselves to developing a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

The development of the global compact for migration presents the international community with a watershed opportunity to make a crucial contribution to global migration governance.  It is expected to provide a unifying framework of common principles, commitments and understandings amongst Member States on all aspects of international migration, including the humanitarian, development and human rights-related dimensions.

It encompasses protecting the rights of migrants, facilitating safe, orderly and regular migration, reducing the incidence and impacts of forced and irregular migration; and addressing mobility consequences of natural and human-induced disasters.

It is being developed through an open, transparent and inclusive process of consultations and negotiations and the effective participation of civil society, the private sector, academic institutions, parliaments, diaspora communities, and migrant organizations.

IOM is extending technical and policy expertise to the global compact process as requested by Member States until its culmination in September 2018.