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Statement by Ms. Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Annual Discussion on Technical Cooperation

Geneva 22 March 2016

Colleagues and friends,

Representing the HC for Human Rights, I am delighted to be with you to discuss technical cooperation and capacity-building in the context of migration, one of the most urgent and complex questions in the human rights landscape.

As you know, the HC is strongly committed to assisting States to promote human rights norms and standards in practical ways that improve lives. The goal of our technical cooperation is to help governments, their institutions and civil society increase knowledge, boost dialogue, sharpen skills, and build up capacity to uphold human rights. This approach enables States to build and nurture systems that uphold accountability and protect human rights.

In this OHCHR's unique value-added is that our work to assess or monitor human rights situations, together with the recommendation of the human rights mechanisms, can feed directly in to technical cooperation programmes - making those more evidence-based, targeted and far more useful to people and Member States.

The sudden increase in large-scale migratory movements across the world human rights technical cooperation and guidance on migration governance absolutely vital. But OHCHR's high-level engagement on these questions long predates today's urgent crises. Our Office is a driving force within the Global Migration Group, and has long sought to promote a human rights perspective in national, regional and global discussions on migration.

Human rights-based approaches to migration governance help to reduce human suffering. The report that has been made available to you, pursuant to the Council's resolution 30/21, details a number of practical activities that have been undertaken by OHCHR and other UN and regional bodies in the past 5 years, to advance respect for migrants' rights and to promote adoption of a human rights-based approach to migration governance. Many of these initiatives should be seen as good practices that States and others can seek to reproduce elsewhere.

For example, it is important to ensure particular scrutiny of the situation of migrants who may be in specific circumstances of vulnerability. The Office maintains a strong focus on migrants who are particularly marginalised and excluded, as well as those who may be at high risk of violence and discrimination – people who require targeted interventions to ensure their rights are protected. Such groups include women migrants in particular sectors of work and in other situations of risk, older persons, and persons with disabilities.

Children can be at particular risk, whether they are travelling on their own or with their families or caregivers. The HC has called for child protection systems, rather than immigration enforcement policies, to govern the treatment of child migrants, regardless of their status. In its technical cooperation work, OHCHR has raised particular concerns about the situation of unaccompanied children, including the use of inappropriate and intrusive age assessment techniques.The Office’s recent publications on migrant domestic workers in an irregular situation, and on the economic, social and cultural rights of irregular migrants provide practical guidance to States on how to improve the human rights situation of other marginalised groups of migrants.

Our other activities include technical advice on strengthening institutions, legislation, policies and practices so that they comply with international human rights laws and standards, including with regard to the human rights of women and other discriminated groups.

Training programs are provided including for government officials, civil society, EU border guards and for the naval force tasked with detecting smuggling networks in the Mediterranean.

Awareness-raising initiatives have included targeted campaigns on the rights of migrants in an irregular situation, and migrant domestic workers – a key group whose rights are too often ignored. Other programmes include numerous national workshops to build skills and facilitate dialogue between key actors, including sharing good practises initiated by other States.

The Office has also published several vital studies and guidelines, such as the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Border. This document, which sets out practical measures that should be taken by all regarding rescue and interception, assistance, screening, identification and referral of migrants, as well as conditions of detention and removal, has been extremely influential in facilitating effective border governance.

As the report demonstrates, our technical cooperation activities on migration cover all regions, all stages of migration, and a range of specific topic-areas.

In this I want to highlight the importance of data. We cannot fix what we do not see. OHCHR, the World Bank’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development, UNICEF, ILO and civil society partners have been working to develop indicators on the human rights of migrants, focusing on the rights to health, education and decent work. Mexicohas piloted these indicators, confirming the feasibility and importance of producing disaggregated data on migrants. OHCHR has also started work on a national pilot consultation in Tunisia. This is a promising new area will assist policy makers to focus on real needs and protection gaps, rather than engage singularly through stereotypes or in response to fear alone.


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development commits us to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration that fully respects human rights, regardless of migration status. It rightly demands that we “leave no one behind”. Uneven development, creates and widens inequalities, violates the human rights of those who are excluded, and deepens instability.
In support of consistent and principled policies towards all migrants, OHCHR will continue to work closely with Global Migration Group, Quartet and civil society partners. We will work to ensure that the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on large-scale movements of refugees and migrants, which will be organized by the Secretary-General in September, is grounded in the human rights of all the people on the move.


Migration, which raises multiple human rights issues, is the HRC’s business. It belongs at the core of many of this Council’s discussions. Its scale and our reactions to it means it is also strategic business and it demands that the human rights of migrants be appropriately and adequately addressed in this Council’s agenda, including its general debates and interactive dialogues.

The HC is committed to continue technical cooperation and capacity building work to address gaps in migrants’ human rights protection, to tackle xenophobia and discrimination against migrants, and to encourage migration governance policies and measures that are centred on the human rights of migrants.

For this purpose we will continue to work with States and other stakeholders to assist them to respect, uphold and apply the values for which this Council stands.

I thank you.