In 2017, there were over 62 million international migrants in countries of the Asia-Pacifuc, and almost 102 million migrants from ESCAP countries living outside their countries of birth, 40 per cent of all migrants in the world. These figures include labour migrants, refugees, and students engaging in temporary or permanent migration, both within the region and beyond.
Well-managed migration can be a key driver of sustainable development: countries of destination can benefit from migrants’ skills and fill gaps in their labour forces, while communities in countries of origin can benefit from the remittances sent by migrants, and the links they create between countries of origin and destination.
However, maximizing these potential benefits and minimizing the potential negative impacts of migration remains a challenge in the Asia-Pacific region. Much migration in the region is irregular, resulting in migrants being vulnerable to abuse of their rights and exploitation. This not only harms migrants themselves, but all members of society.
Recognizing these challenges, ESCAP is guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its call for member States to “facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”. To meet this target, ESCAP works with member States to ensure that the laws, regulations and procedures governing migration respect the rights of migrants and meet labour market needs efficiently, while building their capacity to implement the reforms.
As the intergovernmental platform for the Asia-Pacific region, ESCAP aims to support the process of dialogue and cooperation to attain the target of making international migration work at the national level for all stakeholders. In this regard, ESCAP promotes regional collaboration among countries of origin and those of destination to make migration meet the needs of all.
ESCAP supports preparations for and follow-up to global processes related to international migration, such as the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, the International Conference on Population and Development, the High-level Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. It also directly supports regional and global dialogue initiatives, such as the Global Forum on Migration and Development.
Priorities include advocating for ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and enhancing the knowledge and evidence-base related to international migration in the region through producing reports such as the Asia-Pacific Migration Report. ESCAP also provides technical support to governments to strengthen their capacity in this field through advice on appropriate policies to harness the benefits of migration while mitigating its costs.
As part of its coordinating role in the Asian and Pacific region, ESCAP co-chairs the Asia-Pacific Regional Thematic Working Group on Sustainable Societies with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The Working Group, comprising 16 United Nations regional entities, works to ensure a coherent United Nations system response to sustainable development-related population and development issues, including international migration.