The Human Rights and Refugees Programme (HRR) at QUNO Geneva engaged with the 50th Human Rights Council, including through three oral statements on the human rights of migrants:
Preparedness for the next pandemic should include the following principles for a resilient global architecture on borders and health: clear; equitable; streamlined, and future-focused. Laurel Townhead, Representative for the Human Rights and Refugees Programme, brought to the attention of the Council two of those principles during the interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on States’ response to pandemics. First, An equitable approach must understand the differential impact of any measure and prioritise the prevention of discriminatory impact and situations of vulnerability. Second, being future-focused includes learning from what is happening now. In the Progress Declaration adopted by the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), States committed to promoting migrants’ meaningful contribution to policy development. QUNO highlighted how the experiences and expertise of migrants must inform planning and preparedness.
During the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Marisa León Gómez Sonet, Programme Assistant for HRR, asked the Special Rapporteur how the Council should respond to the widespread disregard for the rights, well-being, and life of migrants that his report and others so clearly detail. QUNO’s suggestions are: 1. With firm reiteration that borders are not zones of exclusion for human rights obligations and that seeking to cross borders does not exempt people from human rights protection. 2. With clear commitment from States to work with OHCHR’s Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders. 3. With determination to strengthen independent monitoring at borders, and to assess the need for an international monitoring mechanism. A next step could be an expert workshop to highlight good practice in human rights monitoring at borders and a High-Level Panel on Preventing Deaths in Transit to engage political will to live up to these words and fulfil existing obligations. In his closing comments, the Special Rapporteur referred to the importance of monitoring and accountability including through in-depth investigation by States of reports of human rights violations.
During the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, Marisa León Gómez Sonet, highlighted the Progress Declaration of the IMRF, which was recently adopted by consensus and contains a commitment from States to “eliminate all forms of discrimination, including systemic racism … by reviewing, developing and implementing relevant legislation, policies and practices …” Whilst we welcome this language, the stated commitment must be built on with effective action to recognize manifestations of systemic racism and discrimination in migration governance, acknowledge the impact on the human rights of migrants and demonstrate a determination to prevent and address this. As part of the Statement, we asked the Special Rapporteur: What tools are needed to hold States to this commitment and support participatory policy reviews and systemic change at the national, regional, and international levels to better understand the challenges and inform action toward racial justice in migration governance? Alongside the expertise of migrants themselves, what role can the Special Rapporteur and other relevant UN-mandated independent experts and bodies play to inform, guide, and monitor this?