Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Idiocy at the UN

As UN idiocies go, this is a minor one, but it will leave you shaking your head.

The General Assembly decided a few years ago that the development impact of international migration needed global attention and adopted a resolution calling for a “high level dialogue” during its session in 2013.

It was a good call, for the world today has more than 215 million international migrants and over 700 million internal migrants. Many suffer miserable treatment and are often politically friendless in societies where they frequently perform the most menial and unpleasant jobs.

Yet, from their hard lives, migrants send back a huge flood of money to support the families left behind: the officially recorded portion of their remittances amounted in 2012 to $401 billion. The World Bank projects that it will grow despite the world's financial and economic woes to $515 billion by 2015.

That is more money than developing countries receive by way of “aid” and foreign investment combined. Some poor countries, drained of wealth by their own rapacious elites and multinational corporations, are heavily dependent on that money to pay for food and fuel imports.

The General Assembly intended the call for dialogue to focus on problems in putting migrant remittances to productive use.

At present, the money goes mostly for personal expenditures and a good bit is lost in transmission. Migrants face exorbitant bank charges, ranging up to 15 per cent, and illegals can pay even more just to get the money home.

How to cut those costs? How to channel remittances into productive investments? How to engage skilled migrants in developmental work?

There is also the issue of protecting the human rights of migrants. Many are women, subject to rape in the households where they work. Both men and women can suffer abuse and exploitation.

There is much to discuss, issues the world has ignored or actively denied.

The whole idea of calling for a high level dialogue is to raise awareness.

So what does the UN Secretariat do?

It organizes two days of discussions on October 3 and 4 – and announces that the proceedings will be "closed to the Press and general public.”

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