International migration is a powerful tool for reducing poverty and enhancing opportunity. That is why there are now some 232 million international migrants bringing consistent benefits to countries of destination and origin through their essential labour and remittances. Yet, this important population remains largely invisible and unheard in society. Too many live and work in the worst conditions with the least access to basic services and fundamental rights, making them disproportionately vulnerable to extortion, violence, discrimination and marginalization.
Almost half of migrants are women; one in ten is under the age of 15; forty per cent live in developing countries. Poor and low-skilled migrants face the highest barriers to social mobility. The United Nations is acting to safeguard the rights of migrants, lower the social and economic costs of migration, and promote policies that maximize the benefits of mobility. Migrants should not be forced to risk lives and dignity seeking better lives. Earlier this year, the Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers, many of whom are migrants, came into force. And, in October, United Nations Member States called for the post-2015 UN development agenda to take full account of the positive impact of international migration. They also committed to develop a framework for protecting migrants affected by humanitarian crises and recognized the need to facilitate international cooperation to address the challenges of migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner, with full respect for human rights.
On this International Migrants Day, I urge Governments to ratify and implement all core international human rights instruments, including the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. And I call on people and Governments everywhere to reject xenophobia and embrace migration as a key enabler for equitable, inclusive and sustainable social and economic development. Migration is a reality of the 21st century. It is essential that we conduct an open debate on this important subject. Let us make migration work for the benefit of migrants and countries alike. We owe this to the millions of migrants who, through their courage, vitality and dreams, help make our societies more prosperous, resilient and diverse.