As recommended by the Economic and Social Council (decision 2000/288 of 28 July 2000), the General Assembly has proclaimed 18 December International Migrants Day (resolution 55/93 of 4 December 2000). On that day in 1990, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families was adopted (resolution 45/158). The Assembly has stressed the need to make further efforts to ensure respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants. It is estimated that one in every 35 persons in the world is a migrant, living and working in a country other than his or her own. All countries have migrants among their population.
“The fate of many migrants lies in stark contrast to the aspirations reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights norms and labour conventions. They tend to be paid low wages, receive few or no benefits, and work without even minimal safety and health protection. They are often subject to discrimination and marginalization. Furthermore, unauthorized migration exposes migrants to shocking levels of abuse and exploitation. The scourge of trafficking, in particular, has placed many in horrific situations – especially women and children.”
— Kofi Annan
Now, more than ever, International Migrants Day offers an opportunity to strengthen international solidarity and to make migrants’ voices heard across the world. IMD aims to put the issues that are of key interest to migrants and their communities (those they live in and those they leave behind) on the agenda, highlight the challenges they encounter and celebrate their achievements.
In many countries, diversity in the media and representation/participation of migrants in the mainstream national media (and the public sphere) remains problematic. Too often, political parties and the popular media portray migrant workers and their families in a negative way. The language and images used focus on the threat to the security and cultural identity of the “host” societies. There is fragmented information regarding the situations faced by migrants as well as their contributions to sending and receiving countries alike. Citizens and local and state officials need to understand that integration can only be successful and strengthen social cohesion if migrants are granted full access to their human rights.