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International Migration Report 2002

restrictive policies. In 2001, 44 per cent of developed countries had policies aiming to lower immigration levels, as did 39 per cent of developing countries.  Developed and developing countries are strikingly similar in their views and policies concerning levels of emigration. About three-quarters of both developed and developing countries view their level of emigration as satisfactory. One in five countries have policies in place to lower levels of emigration.

Remittances sent back to the home country by migrants are a major source of foreign exchange earnings for some countries and are an important addition to gross domestic product.  For example, in 2000, remittances from abroad were more than 10 per cent of the gross domestic product for countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, El Salvador, Jamaica, Jordan, Nicaragua, Samoa and Yemen.  Remittances can be used to import capital goods and provide investment funds for entrepreneurs.  Also important, remittances can augment household income and savings and be used for the purchase of consumer products and services.

Since 1951, the international community has adopted a number of conventions and protocols for the protection of migrants.  Among the most prominent are the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, which relates to the status of refugees, and the 1990 Convention and 2000 Protocol which considers the protection of migrants and trafficking in persons.  The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, ratified by 141 countries, establishes legal protections and a clear definition of the status of refugees. It also prohibits the expulsion or forcible return of persons accorded refugee status. The 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, ratified by 139 countries, extends the scope of the 1951 Convention, which benefited only persons who became refugees prior to 1 January 1951. It also extends the application of the Convention to persons who became refugees after that date.

The 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, ratified by 19 countries, establishes an international definition of the different categories of migrant workers. It formalizes the responsibility of receiving States in regard to upholding the rights of migrants and assuring their protection.  The 2000 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, ratified by 18 countries, aims to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, particularly women and children; to protect and assist the victims of such trafficking; and to promote cooperation among States parties to meet these objectives.  Finally, the 2000 Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, ratified by 17 countries, aims to combat and prevent the smuggling of human cargo, reaffirming that migration in itself is not a crime, and that migrants may be victims in need of protection.

This report provides a wealth of information on international migration levels, trends and policies.  Nevertheless, migration information remains incomplete and often inaccurate.  Many of the data provided in this report are based on imputation or proxies of the numbers of foreign born; in particular, data on citizenship are used in the absence of data on place of birth.  Documenting migration levels, trends and policies remains a major challenge. In many countries, the information is neither available nor produced on a regular basis.  Furthermore, responsibility for the formulation, implementation and evaluation of migration data is often diffused among Government bodies as well as among international organizations.

United Nations Population Division5

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