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 The Bangkok Declaration on Irregular Migration

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Registration date : 2008-01-06

PostSubject: The Bangkok Declaration on Irregular Migration   Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:07 am

We, the Ministers and representatives of the Governments of
Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Indonesia,
Japan, Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand,
Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and
Vietnam, as well as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
(hereinafter referred to as "the participating countries and Region"),
meeting at the invitation of the Royal Thai Government in Bangkok on
23 April 1999, on the occasion of the International Symposium on
Migration, held on 21-23 April 1999, under the chairmanship of H.E.
Bhichai Rattakul, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, to address the
question of international migration, with particular attention to
regional cooperation on irregular/undocumented migration:

1. Realizing that international migration is a complex phenomenon
which is rooted in human history and is closely associated with social
and economic aspirations of each country and region;

2. Recognizing that the process of globalization and
liberalization, including the increasing interdependence of economies,
has contributed to large flows of people in the Asia-Pacific region,
thus providing both opportunity and challenge for governments in the
region;

3. Noting that both the supply (push) factor and demand (pull)
factor from concerned countries have led to the outflow of migrants
from the countries of the region;

4. Being aware that international migration, particularly
irregular migration, has increasingly become a major economic, social,
humanitarian, political and security concern for a number of countries
in the Asia-Pacific region;

5. Noting with concern that the ongoing financial and economic
crisis in many Asian countries has led to rising unemployment and
other social problems, and has had differing impacts on irregular
migrants and on the countries of origin, transit and destination;

6. Noting further that the periodic natural disasters in some
Asian countries badly affect their economies and lead to rising
unemployment and irregular migration;

7. Gravely concerned by the increasing activities of transnational
organized criminal groups and others that profit from smuggling of and
trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, without
regard to dangerous and inhumane conditions and in flagrant violation
of domestic laws and international standards;

8. Underlining that comprehensive, coherent and effective policies
on irregular/undocumented migration have to be formulated within the
context of a broader regional framework based on a spirit of
partnership and common understanding;

9. Noting that over 65 percent of the world's poorest people live
in the Asia- Pacific region, hence poverty and differences in level of
development among countries in the region remain important causes of
irregular migration;

10. Recognizing a need for international cooperation to promote
sustained economic growth and sustainable development in the countries
of origin as a long-term strategy to address irregular migration;

11. Noting that there is a number of international conventions and
instruments dealing with humanitarian issues relating to migration;

12. Respecting the sovereign rights and legitimate interests of
each country to safeguard its borders and to develop and implement its
own migration/immigration laws, and also recognizing the obligations
of the country of origin to accept its nationals back, and the
obligation of the countries of transit and destination to provide
protection and assistance where appropriate, in accordance with their
national laws;

13. Recognizing the important role and contribution of regional
consultative mechanisms, such as the Asia Pacific Consultations on
Refugees, Displaced Persons, and Migrants, and the Manila Process, on
issues relating to irregular migration;

14. Noting with appreciation the participation of countries from
various regions, United Nations bodies and specialized agencies,
intergovernmental organizations, as well as non-governmental
organizations, in sharing their views and experiences in dealing with
migration issues;

15. Noting also with appreciation the discussion papers prepared
by the Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol
University, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM),
which provided useful points of discussion and recommendations for the
management of irregular migration;

16. Acknowledging with gratitude the timely initiative of H.E. Dr.
Surin Pitsuwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, the dynamic
chairmanship of H.E. Bhichai Rattakul, Deputy Prime Minister of
Thailand, as well as the excellent arrangements provided by the Royal
Thai Government, with the valuable support of the IOM;

Declare as follows:

1. Migration, particularly irregular migration, should be
addressed in a comprehensive and balanced manner, considering its
causes, manifestations and effects, both positive and negative, in the
countries of origin, transit and destination;

2. The orderly management of migration and addressing of irregular
migration and trafficking will require the concerted efforts of
countries concerned, whether bilaterally, regionally or otherwise,
based on sound principles of equality, mutual understanding and respect;

3. Regular migration and irregular migration should not be
considered in isolation from each other. In order to achieve the
benefits of regular migration and reduce the costs of irregular
migration, the capacity of countries to manage movement of people
should be enhanced through information sharing and technical and
financial assistance. In this context, UNITAR, UNFPA, and IOM, joint
sponsors of the International Migration Policy and Law Course (IMPLC),
are invited to hold, in the near future, a course for middle to senior
government officials from the region;

4. A comprehensive analysis of the social, economic, political and
security causes and consequences of irregular migration in the
countries of origin, transit and destination should be further
developed in order better to understand and manage migration;

5. As the causes of irregular migration are closely related to the
issue of development, efforts should be made by the countries
concerned to address all relevant factors, with a view to achieving
sustained economic growth and sustainable development;

6. Countries of origin, as well as countries of transit and
destination, are encouraged to reinforce their efforts to prevent and
combat irregular migration by improving their domestic laws and
measures, and by promoting educational and information activities for
those purposes;

7. Donor countries, international organizations and NGOs are
encouraged to continue assistance to developing countries,
particularly the least-developed countries, in the region aimed at
poverty reduction and social development as one means of reducing
irregular migration;

8. The participating countries and region should be encouraged to
pass legislation to criminalize smuggling of and trafficking in human
beings, especially women and children, in all its forms and purposes,
including as sources of cheap labor, and to cooperate as necessary in
the prosecution and penalization of all offenders, especially
international organized criminal groups;

9. The participating countries and Region should exchange
information on migration legislation and procedures for analysis and
review, with a view to increasing coordination to effectively combat
migrant traffickers;

10. The countries of origin, transit and destination are
encouraged to strengthen their channels of dialogue at appropriate
levels, with a view to exchanging information and promoting
cooperation for resolving the problem of illegal migration and
trafficking in human beings;

11. Greater efforts should be made to raise awareness at all
levels, including through public information campaigns and advocacy,
of the adverse effects of migrant trafficking and related abuse, and
of available assistance to victims;

12. Concerned countries, in accordance with their national laws
and procedures, should enhance cooperation in ascertaining the
identity of undocumented/illegal migrants who seemingly are their
citizens, with a view to accelerating their readmission;

13. Timely return of those without right to enter and remain is an
important strategy to reduce the attractiveness of trafficking. This
can be achieved only through goodwill and full cooperation of
countries concerned. Return should be performed in a humane and safe way;

14. Irregular migrants should be granted humanitarian treatment,
including appropriate health and other services, while the cases of
irregular migration are being handled, according to law. Any unfair
treatment towards them should be avoided;

15. The participating countries and Region should each designate
and strengthen a national focal point to serve as a mechanism for
bilateral, regional and/or multilateral consultations and cooperation
on questions of international migration;

16. A feasibility study should be conducted on the need to
establish a regional migration arrangement, linked to existing
international bodies, to provide technical assistance, capacity
building and policy support as well as to serve as an information bank
on migration issues for the countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The
countries in the region are meanwhile encouraged to utilize and
strengthen the already existing bilateral and multilateral arrangements;

17. The participating countries and Region will follow-up on the
above mentioned issues of irregular migration at the political and
senior official levels in ways which may be deemed appropriate;

18. This document shall be given the widest publicity and
dissemination possible to encourage governments, non-governmental
organizations, the private sector and civil society to join in a
collective regional effort to alleviate the adverse effects of
irregular migration and to prevent and combat trafficking of human
beings, especially women and children.

Bangkok, THAILAND
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