I want to welcome the representatives of so many distinguished agencies and organizations who are working on a myriad of these [international migration] issues from a number of different angles. I am very pleased to welcome the U.S. Global Forum delegation members from DHS, DOL and USAID.
The State Department takes seriously its responsibility to be a strong advocate for humanitarian issues broadly and the protection of vulnerable migrants. We consistently support these causes within the U.S. government as well as with foreign governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations. But of course because these issues touch on so many aspects of migration and mixed flows of people we must take an interagency approach. PRM’s position within the State Department as the leader in humanitarian and protection issues enables the Bureau to engage diplomatically on protection issues with all of these actors.
One of my priorities as Assistant Secretary is to continue PRM’s commitment to humanitarian diplomacy and advocacy - both inside and outside the U.S. Government. I recently returned from New York and Geneva where I had a number of these conversations. This work is important. Sometimes you can also save a lot of lives through a conversation, like the one we are having here today. Many of these conversations are taking place within and outside of the U.S. government.
One of PRM’s goals is to protect populations of concern. While the composition of these populations has changed over time, the mission remains the same. Refugees, particularly those who are women and girls, are our primary focus. But we have also taken on internally displaced persons, stateless persons, and vulnerable migrants. These added populations have made our protection efforts more challenging. We now require a nuanced approach that addresses the distinct protection needs and solutions of each population.
PRM remains committed to those groups and individuals with particular protection needs, such as women, children, the elderly, disabled persons, LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, urban refugees, vulnerable migrants and refugees resettled in the United States.
Looking at the list and around the table I’m looking at the very people who are pursing and speaking up about the populations I just mentioned. It helps that we have in our Secretary of State a leader who is so outspoken on these issues. We don’t have to have an internal debate about whether to have the conversation. Rather it is a rather a question of how best to make a difference.
PRM’s active participation in international forums like the GFMD is a key part of our strategic approach in addressing protection issues. The GFMD allows us to promote protection in a more consistent and comprehensive way and can be based on shared learning across the U.S. government and the broader international community.
The Global Forum for Migration and Development strengthens internal and international mechanisms to help identify good protection practices, better assesses the performance of governments in developing protection safeguards, and leverages opportunities for more effective multilateral and bilateral engagement on these issues.
Our protection focus led us to propose a Round Table theme of “Migrant Protection as Integral to Migration Management” for the GFMD this year. Australia and Ethiopia will lead this roundtable. My staff and others on the U.S. Delegation have been highly involved in helping the co-chairs draft background papers and set the agenda for this session. Deputy Assistant Secretary Wiesner will moderate one of the breakout sessions in that Round Table.
I strongly believe that learning more about the civil society agenda and what concerns you most will help us as we formulate our positions for the meeting in November. I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t believe this as I used to be a member of civil society.
I welcome this discussion and hope that it will be useful for all participants. Thank you.