Chapter 1 Safeguarding Human Rights,
Embracing Cultural Diversity

Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants

Engendering the Management of Migration

Embracing Diversity, And Easing Cultural Differences

Despite considerable promise, international migration also poses some major dilemmas—whether arising out of security, economic, demographic, patriotic, social, cultural or human rights concerns. Nonetheless, international migration is here to stay: There is no indication that humankind—on the move since its early history—will refrain from seizing the opportunities that an increasingly interconnected world of expanding prospects has to offer. Migration will endure for at least as long as poverty and inequality affect a huge swath of humanity. The real challenge is how best to expand the positive contributions of international migration—especially when it comes to poverty reduction and development—while mitigating the risks for all involved.(1)

At the dawn of the 21st century, the global community has come a long way towards understanding how such tensions can be managed—and that is through international collaboration and the respect and promotion of human rights. One of the major achievements of the 20th century(2) is the development of an international human rights system that champions human dignity and the basic needs to which all human beings are entitled—regardless of their national origins. The birth of this legacy stems from the very founding of the United Nations, which today encompasses a community of 191 nations entrusted with seeking dignified solutions to the challenges of living in a globalized world.

The effective management of international migration requires global, regional and bilateral cooperation. In recent years, inter-governmental dialogue has intensified.(3) Building on the momentum of recent high-level commitments, the year 2006 is a significant one for international migration and global policy-making, which will culminate at the High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development. This is where the challenge lies: Will governments, parliamentarians, employers and civil society fulfil the promise of human rights made to the world's nearly 200 million international migrants? The world will be watching.

Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants

At the global level, governments have consistently reaffirmed the human rights of migrants and their families. World leaders at both historic summits—the 2000 UN Millennium Summit and the 2005 World Summit—recognized that the management of international migration will play a significant role in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).(4) Governments also specifically called attention to the needs and rights of women migrants and refugees in the plans of action adopted at the UN conferences of the 1990s. These included the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women.

A rights-based and gender-sensitive approach is the minimum standard to which any immigration policy should be held. However, explicitly applying human rights protections to international migrants and addressing the specific rights concerns of women have been slow at the global level.

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families was adopted in 1990. But it took thirteen years for it to come into force in 2003—after the minimum number of countries ratified it.(5) As of January 2006, only 34 out of 191 countries had ratified the Convention. Not one of the top ten immigrant-receiving countries in the world—who as a group are home to half of all the world's migrants—features in this listing. (6) Concerned with the need to step up rights protections for migrants, partners that include leading international NGOs and UN organizations have launched the "Global Campaign for Ratification of the Convention".(7)

Many internationally recognized human rights are applicable to citizens and non-citizens alike within the territory of a State. Rights to liberty, to freedom from torture and inhumane treatment, to education and health, to equal treatment in employment, to join unions and to enjoy rest days, (8) for example, are human rights that, under international law, every State is obliged to make at least minimal efforts to respect, protect and fulfil—regardless of an individual's legal status. In practice, countries limit some human rights to citizens only, and make distinctions between documented and undocumented migrants.(9) This is within their sovereign rights. International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions also establish guidelines and recommendations on what constitutes decent work, forced labour and minimal work standards, including two devoted to migrants.(10) These instruments are especially relevant for the millions of workers—including migrant workers—whose labour facilitates the high quality of life to which many host nations have become accustomed. These migrants often take on grueling and underpaid work in farms, garbage collection or cleaning that helps to keep households and cities supplied, organized and tidy. While most immigrant workers have been, and continue to be, prepared for a trade-off—low pay and socio-economic challenges in exchange for the opportunity to earn higher wages and live peacefully abroad—sending and receiving countries have not always fulfilled their end of the tacit bargain when it comes to human rights.

By and large, labour laws still do not effectively protect most of the world's working migrant women—even when they have legal status. The problem is compounded by the fact that many migrants lack access to information about their rights or how to claim them. This is aggravated by a dearth of adequate data on which to base effective policy responses and the tendency to underreport human rights violations owing to the underground nature of much migrant labour. (11) One important goal is to regulate the currently unregulated sectors under which many migrant women are employed. This includes strengthening monitoring systems that hold employers to account—something that will go a long way towards preventing and ending abuses which, in their most extreme form, constitute modern day slavery. Encouraging and binding employers (including public agencies and multinational corporations) to laws and codes of conduct can further protect the human rights of migrant workers. Various incipient initiatives are under way that are designed to establish corporate responsibility—including a number launched by the UN and other entities.(12)

Rights to education and to health are especially critical, not only for the migrant individuals and families in question, but in the interests of receiving countries. A child's right to receive an education is fundamental to his or her development as a citizen of the world, regardless of the legal status of child and parent. Health is not only a core right established by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights—a UN treaty ratified or signed by more than 150 nations(13)—but is also necessary for a productive life. In some receiving countries, the immigrant workforce represents a substantial share of the total labour force, and, consequently, the health status of migrants can have a significant impact on national economic output. Furthering reproductive health and rights is especially necessary to safeguard both the health and empowerment of migrant women. Failure to promote education and health-care access for immigrants and their families also carries implications for their integration. Poor educational and health status feed discrimination against migrants, and contribute to socio-economic marginalization from mainstream society.

Various countries recognize their responsibilities under international law—responsibilities that are often enshrined in their own constitutions—and affirm the basic rights of all persons within their territories, regardless of legal status. In several instances, countries make allowances for all migrants to access health care—although, for undocumented migrants these are often limited to medical emergencies. In September 2005, the Government of Mexico announced it was extending health care to all Mexican migrants and their families that travel from the United States. The "popular insurance" scheme is slated to extend coverage to 1 million people on a range of health issues, including cancer, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, cataracts and kidney-related illnesses.(14) The European Union-funded initiative on Migrant-Friendly Hospitals has been implemented in 12 Member States to assess how best to strengthen the role of hospitals in order to promote culturally sensitive health care for migrants and ethnic minorities.(15)

But progress is still inconsistent when it comes to protecting the rights of migrants, and especially those who are undocumented. Even where laws exist, undocumented migrants face hurdles, risks and fears of being reported and deported, as well as limitations on the entitlements granted. The right to health is a case in point, as governments struggle with rising immigration, budgetary priorities, increased security concerns and public opinion. In the case of the United Kingdom, though prior to 2004 there was no explicit legislation governing the right of undocumented migrants to health care, access was still largely available to them. After that date, revised National Health System regulations explicitly refer to "illegal immigrants", establish procedures for reporting them to the authorities and require migrants to provide proof of legal residence.(16)

While most immigrant workers have been, and continue to be, prepared for a trade-off—low pay and socio-economic challenges in exchange for the opportunity to earn higher wages and live peacefully abroad—sending and receiving countries have not always fulfilled their end of the tacit bargain when it comes to human rights.

Similarly, in 2002, France passed a law requiring undocumented migrants to pay part of their medical treatment. Those unable to prove they had been in the country for more than three months could not seek state medical assistance except in the event of an emergency or for treatment of a life-threatening condition. In response, the International Federation for Human Rights lodged a complaint with the Committee on Social Rights of the Council of Europe. In 2004, the Committee ruled that "legislation or practice that denies entitlement to medical assistance to foreign nationals, within the territory of a State Party, even if they are there illegally, is contrary to the Charter".(17)

In Berlin, the Büro für medizinische Flüchtlingshilfe was established in 1996 as an anti-racist, non-governmental resource providing free and anonymous medical treatment twice a week for undocumented migrants and refugees. There are now offices throughout Germany that are all loosely connected under the "No One Is Illegal" campaign. In addition, some charity and church organizations are extending medical aid to include undocumented migrants. Under the "Protection Against Infection Act" (2000), public health offices offer access to anonymous and free diagnosis and treatment, including for tubercu¬losis and some sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Hospitals, emergency units and general practitioners are also legally obligated to provide medical treatment regardless of health insurance or residency status.(18) However, as in other countries, translating policy into practice is no straightforward task. Undocumented migrants may be unaware of their legal entitlements, and they and their health providers may be unsure of the overall implications of new laws and procedures.

A sustained effort to protect the human rights of migrants is unlikely to take hold until policymakers, and the public at large, recognize that the relationship between immigrants and their host society is mutually beneficial. This also includes the understanding that, in many contexts, immigration is also a necessity—something that a number of governments are increasingly acknowledging. Although migrants play a vital role in the social and economic sphere, their contribution is not always valued. A major—though often unspoken—obstacle to acceptance into the host society is xenophobia, as well as the gender, ethnic, class and other forms of discrimination that only add to the challenges that immigrants face.

Engendering the Management of Migration

The social and financial remittances of migrant women make significant contributions to families and communities back home, and their labour provides socio-economic benefits to their host and origin countries. Yet migration policies rarely take gender into account. This is partially owing to a lack of analysis regarding the divergent opportunities, risks, contributions and experiences of women and men, and can result in a lost opportunity to leverage the economic and social rewards of migration. Better data collection and increased research would enable a greater understanding of, for example, how female migration and remittances contribute to poverty reduction and development. (19) National poverty reduction strategies in countries of origin, and the donor countries that support them, can only gain from increased attention to the growing phenomenon of the international migration of women.(20)

Some countries are taking steps to respond to the feminization of migration. Improved policymaking requires data collection that is disaggregated by age and sex, along the lines of UNFPA-supported efforts now under way in some regions. In order to accomplish this, countries can take advantage of existing data collection exercises—such as censuses, demographic, health and household surveys. Countries receiving large numbers of immigrants can also launch surveys specifically aimed at examining the socio-economic status of migrants. Policy responses are more likely to succeed if based on strong and accurate data and analysis.

Norway is one of the few countries that is seeking to address a dismal lack of sex-disaggregated statistics: It collects detailed demographic, education, labour and economic data on first- and second-generation migrants—including refugees.(21) Canada is another exception: It was the first nation to undertake a comprehensive gender analysis of immigration policies. This resulted in changes to its entry requirements that led to increased numbers of skilled foreign women entering the country—from 24.5 per cent of migrants in this category in 2001 to 34 per cent in 2002.(22) On a regional level, the Statistical Information System on Central American Migration compiles sex-disaggregated information and is one of the most advanced data sets.(23) In Nepal, a major breakthrough was achieved when the Government incorporated the concerns of women migrant workers into the country's 2002-2007 Tenth National Plan. Authorities have also recently initiated efforts to develop a sex-disaggregated national migration database.(24)

Policymakers can help provide alternatives to migration by putting in place policies and programmes explicitly aimed at reducing poverty, ending gender discrimination and expanding opportunities for women in their countries of origin. Removing discriminatory provisions and ensuring that women have opportunities to migrate legally can help lower irregular migration, reduce smuggling and trafficking, and enable women to support their families without undue risks. (25) Some immigrant-receiving countries continue to practice a "principal applicant" approach, which in practice favours male breadwinners. This limits the opportunity for female migrants to be admitted as independents and to enjoy regular status. (26) Host countries will benefit from policy reforms that eliminate discriminatory barriers—through the tax, pension and other economic contributions of migrant women. It will also foster the more humane and orderly management of migration. (27)

Experts have put forth various recommendations to protect the human rights of women throughout the migration cycle. As reviewed in earlier chapters, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UN organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) have developed standards, guidelines and good practices in collaboration with governments and NGOs. Governments can ensure that women migrants are provided with pre-departure orientation and information concerning their rights, risks and who to contact in the event of an emergency or abuse. Bilateral agreements between sending and receiving countries can help to protect migrant women, assist in seeking judicial redress and facilitate repatriation. These types of agreements exist between Thailand and the sending countries of Laos and Cambodia,(28) as they do between Jordan and other key sending countries (Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka). (29)

Countries can also support women migrants by regulating recruitment and job placement agencies, including requiring written contracts and establishing consular relations in destination countries as various South Asian countries have done.(30) Reinforcing the role of embassies in protecting migrant women's rights requires increased resources, staff and training. (31) A critical area in need of review is the issue of policies and practices barring women from changing employers once in their destination country. This is not only a major reason why some migrant women find themselves trapped in abusive and exploitative conditions, but it also prevents them from moving up the occupational ladder.

Governments can also facilitate the reintegration of migrant women when they return to countries of origin, and ease socio-economic problems for those without employment or who have experienced abuses or have been trafficked.(32) Again, such measures are mutually beneficial: Countries stand to gain by supporting returnee access to investment, credit, property ownership and related services, an area where women often face discrimination and obstacles. This, in turn, helps harness savings from remittances for entrepreneurial and development initiatives, and enables governments to explore ways to capitalize on the potential "female brain gain" of skilled migrant workers.

The Philippines is reputed to have one of the more developed initiatives for overseas workers, including a mandatory pre-departure programme that covers rights and health issues. (33) Migrant women are even learning self-defense tips and how to access support services while abroad. In collaboration with the IOM, the Government has developed a video entitled "The Power to Choose: Self-Defense for Women Migrant Workers", which shows w ould-be émigrés how to avoid and deal with potential abuse.(34) In Ethiopia, a woman who had previously resided in Lebanon set up an officially registered employment agency for migrants called Meskerem. Its mission is to assist and protect women from trafficking and abuse while abroad. Working with its local branch in Lebanon, the agency issues ID cards with 24-hour emergency contact information and pick-up, shelter and repatriation services should the need arise. The agency will also pay salaries should the employer be in default, and follows-up with legal action.(35) Other countries are also working to support migrant women. Mexico, for example, launched a campaign to raise awareness of the human rights of migrant women and the conditions under which they live while residing in the United States.(36)

Parliamentarians can play a key role. In December 2005, the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly issued a report on The Integration of Immigrant Women in Europe.(37) Acknowledging that women face two-fold discrimination both as women and as immigrants, the report calls on EU Member States to strengthen human rights protections for this group. These include: combating racism and gender stereotypes; raising awareness in the media and in schools of the contributions of female migrants to host societies; and breaking down obstacles to employment. Other measures include: granting independent legal status to women who enter for family reunification; criminalizing the withholding of resident permits or passports; providing vocational training that will enable migrant women to move beyond traditional sectors (i.e., domestic services, health); providing support such as childcare; and encouraging greater male involvement in family responsibilities. In recognition of the need to involve men, receiving countries are also being called on to provide education to new immigrants, both male and female, on the equal rights of men and women and the necessity of ending gender-based violence.

Working with communities in countries of origin that have large numbers of emigrants is also critical. In addition to reducing the risks of trafficking or exploitation through awareness-raising, would-be migrants can also gain access to information about what to expect from their experience, the opportunities and challenges involved, as well as relevant laws and policies. For example, in Tarija, Bolivia, an "Orientation for Young Women" programme run by the NGO, PROMUTAR (Promoción de la Mujer Tarija), counsels young female would-be émigrés of the risks inherent in undocumented migration. (38) Participatory approaches are also relevant in informing and developing effective migration and development policies. The engagement of women's migrant organizations, coupled with strengthened collaboration among policymakers, employers, trade unions and other NGOs, can s erve to further the search for improved, sustainable and equitable policy responses for managing international migration.


Many NGOs have been at the forefront of the battle for migrant rights, especially on specific issues such as trafficking or refugees. Their participation in formulating migration policy has been more recent, but is gaining momentum and becoming more forceful.(39) Several organizations make gender equality and the rights of women either a partial or an exclusive focus of their missions.

Migrants Rights International was founded at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) to promote the human rights of migrants. It counts among its members, organizations and experts from all regions of the world.(40) In the United States, there are now more than 3,000 organizations assisting immigrants, up from only about 50 in 1993. (41) In 1999, at least 300 organizations were estimated to be working for the rights of migrants in Asia.(42) Several networks in Latin America, as well as in Europe (some funded by the European Commission), are working for migrants' rights and against racism.(43) The Platform of International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), for example, is an association of European NGOs working for the rights to shelter, education, health, legal aid and to assemble and advocate for improved working conditions. (44) According to FIVOL (the Italian Foundation for Voluntary Service), there are about 1,000 associations that work in the field of immigration, 50 per cent of which are run by migrants themselves.(45)

A major factor contributing to labour exploitation and abuse is that immigrants often lack representation in organizations that will fight for their rights. NGOs, often established by migrant workers themselves, have stepped in to fill the void. Trade unions are a critical forum through which the rights of workers can be defended, and in several—mostly developed countries—they have embraced migrant worker concerns.(46) The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, for example, with its membership of 125 million workers worldwide, has promoted migrant worker rights both globally and nationally through its affiliates. Among their activities, they have launched a "No to Racism and Xenophobia" action plan. (47) While laws tend to bar migrants from joining trade unions, there are some exceptions. In Switzerland, trade unions offer membership cards that provide basic protections for undocumented migrant workers, most of whom are domestic workers.(48)

In Asia, several organizations defending the rights of women migrants have been formed. Immigrant women successfully registered the Asian Domestic Workers Union in Hong Kong (SAR) as a trade union in 1989. It now provides support to members from countries such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.(49) Filipino women have also established various other NGOs linked to transnational networks, including the NGO coalition United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL). It monitors the living and working conditions of foreign domestic workers and has helped workers from India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka to establish their own unions.(50) In 2004, in the Republic of Korea, human rights, women's and faith-based NGOs have gained legal protections for low-skilled migrants with the introduction of the Employment Permit System. This offers migrant workers the same rights as local workers—including the right to join unions, to strike, to collective bargaining, and to national health, casualty and industrial accident insurance, as well as to a national pension.(51) In New Delhi, India, the South Asian Study Center provides an estimated 200,000 migrants from Nepal with information about education, health, labour rights, financial management and remittances.(52)

Embracing Diversity, And Easing Cultural Differences

Resolving the tough socio-cultural issues surrounding international migration is a complex challenge that countries all over the world face. These include the tensions that arise when immigrants of different ethnic, racial, cultural and religious backgrounds are received into host country societies. Flashpoints also involve differences over traditional practices and customs regarding women—including those that are harmful, constitute human rights violations and are illegal under national legislation. But intolerance for "otherness" and cultural misunderstanding are problem areas that can be assuaged through leadership and a concerted effort—on the part of both receiving countries and the immigrant communities themselves.

In recent years, xenophobia and discrimination against migrants has been rising in industrialized countries, especially in Europe, but elsewhere as well—including in immigrant-receiving countries of Southern Africa.(53) Migrants and refugees are often blamed for economic stagnation and high unemployment. In addition, as polarizing global issues rise to the surface—in particular since 9/11—tensions reflected at the national and local levels can influence perceptions and attitudes towards migrants. These can sometimes be intensified by political opportunism and negative media coverage, which can, in turn, aggravate animosity and give rise to mutual mistrust between immigrants and host community members. Recent events—such as the 2005 riots in Paris, sparked primarily by youth of immigrant origins, or the 2006 "cartoon crisis"— have brought renewed reflection about the relative failure, or absence, of effective integration policies. Yet over the past decade, more and more countries report that they have adopted relevant policies: By 2005, 75 countries (37 developed, 38 developing) had integration policies in place. (54) In a number of countries with a strong economic record, integration has facilitated the socio-economic and cultural contri¬butions of immigrants. (55)

Integration and tolerance, however, is a two-way process that involves adaptation by both immigrants and their new societies—but is also one that is beneficial for all involved. It entails fostering understanding and respect for the rights and duties of both migrants and natives of the host societies, and the laws and values that bind them in a shared social system. (56) As the 2004 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme states: "Multiculturalism is not only about recognizing different value systems and cultural practices within society—it is also about building a common commitment to core, non-negotiable values, such as human rights, rule of law, gender equality, and diversity and tolerance."(57) Integration should be tailored to meet the needs of both new arrivals and longer-term residents, in addition to second- and third-generation immigrants who may struggle with exclusion. It should also take into account the diverse needs and perspectives of different immigrant communities, and be sensitive to varying patterns of integration.(58) This includes ensuring attention to gender and youth issues. Ignoring them, as the European Parliament points out, "can have devastating effects for the women involved as well as for society in general".(59)

The role of cities and decentralized government structures in managing migration and promoting cultural understanding is especially critical, since they are increasingly the favoured destination of both international and internal migrants.(60) Engaging migrants in policymaking and urban planning as well as fostering shared interests and responsibilities vis-à-vis their host countries, is central to their integration as members of society. Experts have also recommended multi-cultural training for journalists in order to discourage a tendency among some media outlets to brand immigrants with labels such as "criminal" or "irresponsible" that play into negative public perceptions and xenophobia.(61)

How migrants settle into their communities is also a factor influencing to what degree they will integrate. When migrants first arrive in the destination country, they will often settle in communities of fellow expatriates who can assist newcomers to adapt to a new culture and language and help locate housing and work. But ethnic migrant enclaves can also reinforce exclusion—especially where the external environment is characterized as discriminatory or alienating. In some cases, migrant communities themselves perpetuate their own isolation.

Various campaigns and programmes seek to alleviate intolerance, promote diversity and the inclusion of immigrants and refugees, and support their successful integration into society. UN-Habitat's campaign, the "Inclusive City", aims to enable all who live in a city to enjoy its benefits and opportunities without discrimination.(62) Following the 1998 Immigration Act, the Italian Government introduced "cultural mediators"—foreign citizens who facilitate the interaction of immigrants with public services.(63) In Naples and its surrounding area, authorities produced the Ciao...! leaflet, which is designed to help teachers foster multicultural tolerance through the theme of "growing up together with our differences". (64) Integration policies that focus on the specific needs and rights of immigrant children and youth are particularly strategic, not only for the short-term, but also to promote long-term socio-economic cohesion. In Berlin, the Kumulus mentoring initiative, begun in 1993, is assisting young immigrants to find employment. The initiative is made up of multi-ethnic groups of experts and immigrants who have counselled tens of thousands of immigrant youth and their parents, while also engaging ethnic businesses and media.(65)

Reducing discriminatory attitudes in the job market also facilitates inclusion. In some countries, employers may be concerned that cultural or religious practices might interfere with workplace performance. In the United States, the Government works with employers to prevent discrimination and harassment against Muslims and find ways to accommodate their needs—for example, with regard to prayer and the wearing of traditional turbans and, in the case of female adherents, headscarves. The programme raises awareness of anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation, and informs both employers and workers of their respective rights and duties.(66)

A more telling measure of the acceptance of immigrants into mainstream society may lie in their participation in the political process. Quite apart from migrant-run organizations, immigrants have also been making their way into politics. During a series of heated debates on proposed immigration legislation in the United States earlier this year, a number of senators recalled their own immigrant origins. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants marched in major cities across the country in a bid to influence public opinion and have their voices heard. During the Italian elections in April 2006, a woman who had emigrated from an impoverished region of the Dominican Republic was elected to Parliament.(67)

"[I]mmigrants must not be seen as disposable workers who can be used and then discarded."

— European Parliament Resolution on Immigration, Integration and Employment (2003)

Efforts to bridge the lack of social interaction or familiarity between immigrant newcomers and their wider society can assuage both the sense of exclusion and isolation on the part of migrants and counter negative public perceptions. Sometimes initiatives are small, but can have an important effect. For example, in Belgium, in 2005, a newspaper launched a campaign to invite asylum-seekers into the homes of residents for Christmas dinner. In less than two weeks, over 100 families extended invitations to asylum-seekers. A participant from Kazakhstan remarked, "It's wonderful to be treated as normal people for once. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."(68)

Local authorities can also grant permits to immigrant groups for public events that celebrate cultural diversity and bring different ethnic groups together. In New York City—the quintessential "city of immigrants"—parades are held year round and are sponsored by Brazilian, Irish, Persian-Iranian, Chinese and West Indian communities, among others. In São Paolo, Brazil, indigenous Bolivian migrants held their first carnival in 2003, and more are joining samba schools. Their large market now draws crowds of some 8,000 people every Sunday, and brings together other immigrant groups and native Brazilians who enjoy a taste of Andean goods, food and music.(69)


Migrants are first and foremost fellow human beings—whatever their status. Dismissing or labelling them simply as "foreigners" or "illegals" devalues their humanity, and only serves to justify their treatment as "different" or inferior. It also objectifies them as goods to be conveniently utilized, whose voices and interests are better left unheard. But migrants are daughters and sons, mothers and fathers, spouses, workers and refugees. They, like the host population, harbour the same aspirations and dreams as everyone else—a better and more secure life for themselves, their families and loved ones. Migrants' rights are human rights. Today, we have a unique opportunity to manage international migration in a more humane, equitable and ethical manner.