Towards Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in the Asia-Pacific Region

Towards Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in the Asia-Pacific Region

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26 Jan 2018
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International migration is a structural feature of an interconnected Asia-Pacific. The number of migrants to and from the region continues to grow, reflecting factors such as changing demographics, economic transformations, and increased connectivity, as well as showing the influence of instability and conflict in the region; meanwhile, the impacts of migration in all countries have grown to become more important; and the means adopted by countries have adapted to try to address these impacts in a positive manner. This report draws from existing research and provides information on the key trends in migration in the region; the drivers of migration; the impacts of migration; and policy responses at national and multilateral level and concludes with recommendations.

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  • Foreword

    The Asia-Pacific region is a fulcrum for international migration — home to the world’s largest and most important countries of origin, and destination. The region has welcomed migrants, whether for economic benefits or to accommodate those displaced. It has been responsive to changing circumstances, and its dynamism has driven countries of origin to also serve as countries of destination. If all the over 62 million international migrants in the Asia-Pacific region were considered together they would make up the thirteenthlargest population in the region, just behind the population of Thailand, and constituting more than the population of Myanmar. If the over 101 million migrants who have left their countries of origin in Asia and the Pacific were considered together, they would be the ninth-largest population, almost equivalent to the population of the Philippines.

  • Acknowledgements

    Under the overall leadership and guidance of Shamshad Akhtar, Under-Secretary-General of United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP and Kaveh Zahedi, Deputy Executive Secretary for Sustainable Development, and substantive direction of Nagesh Kumar, Director, Social Development Division, this report has been prepared by a core team coordinated by Vanessa Steinmayer and comprising Paul Tacon, Meechai Orsuwan, Alida Taghiyeva, Yulia Gershinkova and Angus Wade. It has drawn upon a set of background papers prepared by Jerry Huguet, Marla Asis and Jessie Connell.

  • Executive summary

    International migration is a structural feature of an interconnected Asia-Pacific region, and is one of the key factors shaping the region with profound social and economic impacts. Migratory movements change the composition of the population, labour force and society.

  • Glossary on migration

    Asylum seeker: A person who seeks safety from persecution or serious harm in a country other than his or her own and awaits a decision on the application for refugee status under relevant international and national instruments. In case of a negative decision, the person must leave the country and may be expelled, as may any non-national in an irregular or unlawful situation, unless permission to stay is provided on humanitarian or other related grounds.

  • Introduction

    International migration has been a key defining feature of external linkages of countries in the Asia-Pacific region for centuries. From migrants travelling in search of markets or goods in the times of the Silk and Spice Routes, to indentured workers sent from Asia to other countries in the region and beyond in the colonial era, to movements in search of education and jobs in the contemporary Asia-Pacific region, the nature of migration has evolved over time. Throughout these periods, the drivers, directions, and pathways of migration have changed, but the role of migration remains in influencing social and economic change, influencing tastes, languages, and cultural practices; building links between disparate places; and helping to shape the history of the region.

  • Migration trends and trajectories in the Asia-Pacific region

    Trends and patterns in migrant stocks provide insights into the trajectories of migration in the Asia-Pacific region. According to most recent estimates, over 62 million people living in Asia-Pacific in 2017 were born outside their country of residence. The number of migrants in the Asia-Pacific region has increased by about a quarter over the past 12 years. This shows that migration is clearly a growing phenomenon in the region. The number of migrants increased steadily in South-East Asia, reflecting that some countries in this subregion have become countries of in-migration, such as Malaysia and Thailand.

  • Migration drivers and pathways in the Asia-Pacific region

    Migration in the Asia-Pacific region is an outcome of a complex interplay of drivers and facilitators, which result in different forms and directions of migration. Understanding the drivers of migration and facilitating factors is important for the design of policies for safe, orderly and regular migration. Creating more accessible opportunities for regular and safe migration, for instance, can reduce the use of illegal channels and opportunities for criminal practices and help prevent the exploitation and abuse of migrants. This chapter considers the drivers of migration and the resulting pathways that migration takes in Asia and the Pacific.

  • Impacts of migration

    Migration is primarily driven by a desire for a better life, either for migrants themselves or their families. Undertaken as a free choice, with sufficient support and protective measures, and through efficient and safe legal channels, migration can make positive impacts in countries of destination and origin alike, as well as for migrants themselves. When migrants are compelled to move, under unsafe and disorderly conditions, the negative consequences are significan

  • Legislative frameworks and regional cooperation for managing migration

    International migration relates to a core element of State sovereignty, namely the right of States to determine who enters and remains on their territory. As such, States enjoy considerable latitude on determining the conditions under which people migrate, and have adopted a range of national policies to address migration.

  • Shaping the Global Compact on migration: Some recommendations

    As the preceding chapters have shown, international migration is at the heart of the economic and social transformation underway in the Asia-Pacific, both driving it and being driven by it. The numbers of migrants to and from the region are growing, flowing from demographic and cultural shifts, political conflicts, environmental changes, but above all, the desire for greater opportunities that are not available at home.

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