In 2019, there were almost 65 million international migrants in the Asia-Pacific region, and almost 106 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.
ESCAP is further guided by the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the first intergovernmentally-agreed cooperative framework on international migration in the framework of the United Nations. The 23 objectives of the Global Compact aim to ensure the protection of migrants’ rights, and the contribution of migrants to sustainable development in countries of origin, destination and transit, while respecting the sovereign rights of States.
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 Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration and the International Migration Review Forum, and the International Conference on Population and Development. It also directly supports regional and global dialogue initiatives, such as the Global Forum on Migration and Development.
Priorities include supporting the regional review and follow-up of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, 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.
In order to ensure that responses to migration are as comprehensive as the phenomenon itself, ESCAP coordinates its work on migration with the wider UN system. It serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the Regional United Nations Network on Migration for Asia and the Pacific and engages other UN entities systematically in its work to ensure coherence, comprehensiveness, and maximum impact.