Press Release

12 October 2004

International Migration Recognized as Development Force

UNFPA Calls for More Attention to the Needs of Migrant Women

UNITED NATIONS, New York—International migration is increasingly being perceived as a development tool and a main source of capital for developing countries, rather than a failure of development. As such, the world must put migration at the centre of the global development agenda and mainstream population policy, according to Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

Migration issues will only become more complex and challenging in the years ahead, said Ms. Obaid at a round table held here today. “What can be done, however, is to manage migration flows in a more orderly way, one that maximizes the benefits and minimizes the costs to both sending and receiving countries as well as to the migrants themselves.”

Today’s event, entitled “International Migration and Development: The Challenges Ahead,” was part of the United Nations General Assembly’s commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo (ICPD). The round table was intended to take stock of achievements made in the area of international migration, one of the main issues that emerged from the ICPD a decade ago.

Women now constitute more than half of the migrant population worldwide, and between 70 and 80 per cent of that population in some countries. They often work in gender-segregated and unregulated sectors of the economy, which exposed them to a much higher risk of gender discrimination, violence, human trafficking and sexual abuse. “Given these facts,” said Ms. Obaid, “the gender dimensions of migration,” such as providing migrant women with access to legal and health services, including reproductive health, “deserve increased attention.”

Participants in the round table included Rolf K. Jenny, of the International Migration Policy Programme; Ndioro Ndiaye, of the International Organization for Migration; Patrick Taran, of the International Labour Organization; Pierre Bertrand, of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Colleen Thouez, of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research; Joseph Chamie, of the United Nations Population Division; and Jan Karlsson, of the Global Commission on International Migration.

Considering migration as an asset for both developing and developed countries, the various speakers emphasized the need for coherent national, regional and international policies – as well as dialogue – to address migration issues in a way that respects human rights and maintains peace and security. They also highlighted the need for human and financial capacities, as well as the information that would help policy makers plan their migration policies.

The round table also featured the release of a new publication that also examines the progress made in the field of international migration since the Cairo Conference, and identifies future challenges. Meeting the Challenges of Migration: Progress Since the ICPD, prepared by the International Migration Policy Programme and UNFPA, says that despite progress made in a number of key issues related to migration, many of the objectives set forth a decade ago remain the goals of today. The publication also reflects on migration priorities shared by all countries. It particularly focuses on migration trends and policies; migration and human rights; economic migration; refugee protection; human trafficking; internal migration; and migration data.


UNFPA is the world’s largest multilateral source of population assistance. Since it became operational in 1969, the Fund has provided substantial assistance to developing countries, at their request, to address their population and development needs. Making motherhood safer for all women is at the heart of UNFPA’s mandate.

Contact Information:

Omar Gharzeddine
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5028