The text of the following Joint Statement was released by the Governments of Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Suriname, and the United States on the occasion of the regional Migration Ministerial co-hosted by the United States and Colombia in Bogotá, Colombia on October 20, 2021.
The Ministries of Foreign Relations and high-ranking representatives of Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Suriname, and the United States of America met on October 20, 2021, in Bogotá, Colombia for an urgent discussion about the causes and challenges of irregular migration, and how to respond to the attendant issues that currently affect various countries in the Americas. The participants analyzed the current patterns of irregular migration in the Americas, noting that this phenomenon had grown exponentially in recent years. They also discussed the factors causing this migration, its characteristics, and the social, health, human rights, and security challenges facing countries of transit, destination, and return.
They also focused on ways to strengthen regional cooperation to work on the causes of irregular migration, including the lack of employment opportunities that would promote economic development and weakened governance in certain countries. They likewise sought to better understand and address these migratory flows by, among other things, combating national and transnational crime that relies on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, while taking into account the respective capacities of each country.
The participants concurred that the irregular flow of migrants requires a regional response, as well as global resources, rooted in solidarity toward migrants and among States, and in the protection and promotion of the human rights of migrants. They therefore reached consensus on the need for measures with tangible results that will lead to human rights-based solutions, and that will benefit the countries involved and make it possible to resolve the issue of irregular migration in the Americas.
They prioritized respect for and the guarantee of the human rights of migrants, particularly women, children, and adolescents, especially unaccompanied minors, the majority of whom are physically, economically, and emotionally fragile, while also recognizing each country’s duty to manage, in accordance with its international commitments and domestic laws, the flow of migrants across international borders in a secure, humane, orderly, and regular fashion. They further committed to consider control, health, protection, and security measures in addition to actions to combat the crime of trafficking in persons and of migrant smuggling in particular. The foregoing includes their commitment to address these challenges through greater regional cooperation on migration, by promoting voluntary returns in accordance with applicable national and international laws, facilitating, within countries of origin, paths to legal migration for work, and expanding efforts to identify and investigate the trafficking-in-persons crimes committed against irregular migrants.
To combat trafficking in persons, the participants committed to coordinate existing mechanisms like the Quito Process, the South American Conference on Migration, and the Regional Conference on Migration, as well as others being developed, to strengthen regional cooperation on preventing, investigating, exchanging information about, and prosecuting crimes associated with migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons. This effort includes ongoing consideration of forming a Working Group on Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons.
The attendees concurred that a joint effort is required to resolve the structural causes that lead to migration and intra-regional displacement, through policies and programs, like the Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), the Comprehensive Development Plan promoted by El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and ECLAC, and the Build Back Better World initiative, among others, as a way to strengthen economic growth and spur development, infrastructure, production, and employment throughout the region. In turn, this effort will help strengthen and consolidate democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. In this vein, they intend to request that the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, CAF, and ECLAC submit a proposal on coordinating the development of production chains and physical infrastructure in the Americas and on investments and a strategy that will generate employment and income opportunities for citizens and receiving cities.
They shared the perspective that the opportunity exists to create a collective development strategy, taking into account successful models in the region, with a view to promoting conditions that favor investment and economic progress in the Americas. Accordingly, they committed to continue discussing this agenda, while encouraging more countries to participate and consolidating the details of the strategy through collaborative processes to address the challenges of irregular immigration. The emphasis was on immediate efforts that can be pursued with the certain hope of a better future for their citizens and of the consolidation of democracy in the Americas.