Press Release: Migrant rights advocates applaud release of principles for human rights at international borders

Press Release, 22 October 2014
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(New York, NY) On October 22nd, in a report on the rights of migrant children to the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon announced the release of a new document outlining principles and guidelines for governments on protecting the rights of international migrants in border zones.

Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders,” published by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), offers important recommendations to governments on how to fulfill their human rights obligations to international migrants, irrespective of legal status. While not legally binding or establishing new rights, the Guidelines point to existing obligations in core international human rights instruments to offer direction on human rights-based border governance.

Representatives of the Global Coalition on Migration (GCM), an international coalition of migrant associations and rights organizations, and advocacy, trade union, faith, and academic institutions, are in New York to welcome the release of the Guidelines. Several GCM members from Mexico, Argentina, the U.S., and Europe contributed to the drafting of the Guidelines along with other civil society groups.

The Guidelines are seen as an important advocacy tool for migrant communities.

“This timely new document gives momentum to our efforts to end the human rights crisis at borders, to reaffirm protections for all, and to save the lives of migrant men, women and children,”

says Catherine Tactaquin, GCM representative and Executive Director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in the U.S. Tactaquin will speak at the OHCHR launch event on October 23, highlighting the human rights concerns of migrant communities in the world’s major migration corridors. In his report, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon calls upon governments to implement human rights safeguards at borders:

“Border governance often takes place in an environment that lacks transparency and accountability, contributing in turn to conditions of impunity and to the increased vulnerability of migrants. Some States mistakenly consider border areas as international zones or excised territory […] where they can act as though they were not bound by legal regimes or their human rights obligations.”

The Guidelines provide steps for governments to implement human rights-based border governance mechanisms, including implementing human rights training for border officials, legislating mechanisms to ensure accountability of private actors contracted to provide border management functions, and establishing procedures for the reporting of human rights violations that occur at borders with provisions for access to justice. The document highlights the need for governments to consider the individual circumstances of migrants, with particular attention to those who may be at risk and in need of assistance.

The GCM will host a celebration of the launch of the Guidelines and a civil society dialogue on their potential for enhancing human rights protections on the evening of October 23 from 5pm to 7pm at the Church Center for the United Nations.

For media inquiries and additional information, contact Karen Campbell at