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Human Rights Council 34: UK statement on the Human Rights of Migrants

This statement was delivered during the Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the Human Rights of Migrants in the Context of Large Movements at the Human Rights Council on the 10 March 2017.

The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

We align ourselves with the statement made by the European Union.

The United Kingdom supports the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted during the UN General Assembly in September 2016 and the plans for two new Global Compacts on Refugees, and on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, to be agreed by 2018. These compacts provide an opportunity to improve the collective response to large movements of people by evaluating our current approach and developing effective migration systems.

That system needs to put human rights at its core. We must ensure that all migrants, regardless of their status, are treated with dignity and full respect for their human rights.

In this regard, we must ensure that existing human rights instruments are fully implemented, without creating new legal obligations. We must also protect those in need so that they do not have to make dangerous onward journeys, potentially exposing themselves to exploitation, abuse and terrible suffering. Last year’s London Syria Conference showed that we can create a comprehensive package of support for both those fleeing conflict and the populations of the countries hosting them, as in the case of Lebanon and Jordan.

We must also maintain the clear distinction between economic migrants and refugees. This is essential to target protection to those in need. And we must support capacity building for countries along migration routes so that they can manage their borders effectively and target the smugglers and organised crime groups which profit from the hopes and desperation of migrants.

In short, the United Kingdom is fully committed to using the Compact negotiation process to ensure that migrants’ human rights are protected fully.

Published 10 March 2017