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Date: 13-15 June 2012
Venue: Conference room C (NLB), United Nations Headquarters, New York

Orderly and humane management of migration is recognized today as a prerequisite for migration to be beneficial to both host and origin societies and migrants. In pursuing this objective, States of destination and origin have the responsibility to protect the human rights of migrants and nationals, and to take into consideration the interests of both, within the parameters set by international principles, standards and norms (globally referred to as International Migration Law or “IML”).

Many conventions exist at the universal and regional levels applying to those involved in the migration process, but these instruments are spread across various branches of law (human rights, humanitarian law, international labour law, transnational and international criminal law, refugee law). There is no one instrument where “international migration law” all come together or central source where overall information is easily accessible, and there is little understanding of the relationship of each of these instruments to the others.

Reference is also frequently made to principles and standards deriving from State sovereignty and having a direct bearing on the management of migration: right to protect borders, to confer nationality, to admit and expel foreigners, to combat trafficking and smuggling, to safeguard national security within the limits of international obligations. States’ competences and obligations in their mutual relationship (duty to cooperate, to readmit nationals) are less well defined and are treated in isolation.

This dispersion of norms and principles contributes to the widespread belief that there are gaps in the protection of migrants and/or regulation of migration at the international level. Moreover, there is sometimes uncertainty about the exact content or intent of international instruments and lack of knowledge as to the status of their ratification and implementation by States. A further related issue is the still insufficient dissemination of information about the rights and duties to be enjoyed or respected by all migrants and, at all levels in national administrations, of the international norms to be applied by migration officials.

Additional information

Information Note

Background material

"International Migration Law: Defining the Actors and Issues"

"The Importance of Migration Terminology"

"Authority and Responsibility of States"

"Human Rights of Migrants"

"Right to Liberty and Security"

"Smuggling of Migrants - The International Legal Framework"

"International Refugee Law" by Grainne O'Hara, UNHCR New York

"Protection of Civilians in Situations of Armed Conflict" by Robert Young, ICRC NYC