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Universal-MigrationHRlaw-PG-no-6-Publications-PractitionersGuide-2014-eng

Universal-MigrationHRlaw-PG-no-6-Publications-PractitionersGuide-2014-eng

38 | PRACTITIONERS GUIDE

38 | PRACTITIONERS GUIDE No. 6the influence of international law. In many countries it is now possibleto invoke, in one way or another, international law in domestic courts inorder to claim the respect and implementation of human rights, includingfor migrants. Even in countries where that is not possible, or when theinternational human rights law claim has failed in the national system, ifthe country is a party to an international or regional human rights treaty,it is often possible to challenge the State at the international level for itsfailure to do so. International law can be a powerful tool for change: eitherfor the actual situation of the individual migrant, through redress indomestic courts, or for the advancement of policy or laws that can amelioratemigrants’ situation, through claims before international mechanisms.This Guide is intended as a tool for lawyers, judges, public officials, humanrights defenders, or for migrants themselves, to better understandthe international human rights of migrants and the means to claimtheir respect or implementation at the national and international levels.III. The multifaceted characteristicof the migration experienceThe share of international migrants in the world’s population has remainedstable in the past 50 years, at a rate of around three percent ofthe world population. Therefore, although particular population movementsmay be temporary or cyclic, the phenomenon of migration isconstant. 6 In 2009, the total population of international migrants wasestimated at around 214 million people. 7 Forty-eight percent of the totalinternational migration is composed of women, most of whom nowmigrate on their own rather than as family members of other migrants. 8The ILO has established that around 90% of international migration iscomposed of economically active migrants and members of their families.Only seven to eight percent of migrants are refugees and asylum-seekers.9 In 2009, an estimated 50 million people were living orworking in a foreign country with irregular status. 106 See, UNDP, Human Development Report 2009—Overcoming barriers: Human Mobility andDevelopment, 2009, p. 2.7 See, Ibid., p. 21. See also, Migration in an interconnected world: New directions for action,Report of the Global Commission on International Migration, October 2005, para. 2; InternationalLabour Migration. ARights-based Approach, Geneva, International Labour Office, 2010,p. 1.8 See, Ibid., p. 25. See also, International Labour Migration. A Rights-based Approach, op. cit.,fn. 7, pp. 1, 3; General Recommendation No. 26 on women migrant workers, CEDAW, UNDoc. CEDAW/C/2009/WP.1/R, 5 December 2008, para. 8. See also, IACHR, Second Reportof the Special Rapporteurship on Migrant Workers and Their Families in the Hemisphere,op. cit., fn. 2, para. 43.9 See, International Labour Migration. A Rights-based Approach, op. cit., fn. 7, p. 2.10 See, UNDP, Human Development Report 2009, op. cit., fn. 6, p. 2.

MIGRATION AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW | 39One of the difficulties for any publication that aims to address problemsof migration—in law or in practice—is the complexity and diversity of themigration experience. The reasons why people migrate are varied, complex,and subject to change; and the people who migrate are not easilyclassifiable—they come from a range of circumstances and backgrounds. 11Generally speaking, migrants are people who move from their country ofusual residence or nationality to another country. A migrant may movefor economic or educational reasons, or in order to escape persecution,human rights abuses, threats to life or physical integrity, war or civil unrest.The distinction between the causes of migration is not straightforwardand the boundaries drawn by international law do not always reflectthe reality of migrant’s lives. A migrant might leave his or her country becauseof persecution on grounds of race, for example, or due to extremepoverty there. In the first case, he or she will be entitled to claim refugeestatus, while the second will be considered a case of economic migration,attracting no particular international protection, even though the threatto the individual’s life may be just as significant as in the first case. Thesame must be said for people who leave their country due to natural catastrophescaused by climate change, although discussion at a politicallevel on the existence of “climate-change refugees” has now begun. 12As regards entry, or attempted entry, of a migrant to a foreign country,a number of broad, sometimes overlapping, groups of migrants can beidentified:• Regular migrants: migrants who enter the State after having obtainedan authorisation, whether temporary or not, by the destinationState;• Undocumented migrants: migrants who enter the State in an irregularfashion, without having the proper documentation; or migrantswho entered in a regular fashion whose authorisation has expiredand who have remained, nonetheless, in the national territory.This Guide uses the terminology recommended by the UN GeneralAssembly, 13 by avoiding the term “illegal migrant” and using “undocumentedor irregular migrant” as synonyms. It must be stressedthat the term “irregular” migrant does not express a quality of theperson but a mere reference to his or her situation of entry or stay.11 See, Gabriela Rodríguez Pizarro, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants, AnnualReport 2004, UN Doc. E/CN.4/2005/85, 27 December 2004, para. 74; and, IACHR, SecondReport of the Special Rapporteurship on Migrant Workers and Their Families in the Hemisphere,op. cit., fn. 2, para. 61.12 See, inter alia, the webpage on “climate change” of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) at: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e4a5096.html.13 General Assembly (GA) resolution 3449(XXX), Measures to ensure the human rights anddignity of all migrant workers, 9 December 1975, para. 2.

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    ISBN 978-92-9037-151-X

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