International Migrants Day observed with theme ‘Migration with Dignity’

The International Migrants Day was observed on December 18, 2018 with the theme ‘Migration with Dignity’. Treating every migrant with dignity is one of the fundamental requirements today. The total number of international migrants increased from an estimated 175 million in 2000 to 244 million persons in 2015.

Created On: Dec 19, 2018 17:15 ISTModified On: Dec 19, 2018 17:20 IST
International Migrants Day observed with theme ‘Migration with Dignity’

18 December: International Migrants Day

The International Migrants Day was observed on December 18, 2018 with the theme ‘Migration with Dignity’. Treating every migrant with dignity is one of the fundamental requirements today.

On September 19, 2016 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a set of commitments during its first-ever summit on large movements of refugees and migrants to enhance the protection of refugees and migrants. These commitments are known as the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (NY Declaration).

The NY Declaration reaffirms the importance of the international protection regime and represents a commitment by the member states to strengthen and enhance mechanisms to protect people on the move. The declaration paved the way for the adoption of two new global compacts in 2018, the global compact on refugees and the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

The global migration pact, known as the ‘Global Compact for Safe, orderly and Regular Migration’, was formally adopted by 164 Governments at an international conference in Marrakech, Morocco on December 10, 2018 to address the real challenges of migration while reaping its many benefits. The Compact is people-centered and rooted in human rights.

Difference between refugees and migrants


Refugees are people who are forced to leave their country of origin under the fear of persecution, conflict, generalised violence or other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order and, as a result, require international protection. 


Migrants are people who change their countries of usual residence, irrespective of the reason for migration or legal status. Migrants make a conscious choice to leave their country to seek a better life elsewhere.

International Migration: Key Highlights

  International Migrants Day observed globally The key driver of international migration is the search of a bright future, a well-paid job in a developed nation. With the income gap growing between countries, migration has also intensified.

Many advanced and dynamic economies need migrant workers to fill jobs that cannot be outsourced and that do not find local workers willing to take them at going wages.

Migration may reduce wages or lead to higher unemployment among low-skilled workers in advanced economies, many of whom are themselves migrants who arrived in earlier waves.

However, most migrants complement the skills of domestic workers instead of competing with them. By performing tasks that either would go undone or cost more, migrants allow citizens to perform other, more productive and better-paid jobs.

Migrants help boost economic growth in receiving countries by enlarging the labour force and the pool of consumers and by contributing their entrepreneurial capacities.

Though poverty is reported to be one of the reasons for migration, deeper poverty does not lead automatically to higher migration, as the extremely poor people generally do not have the resources to bear the costs and risks of international migration.

International migrants are usually drawn from middle-income households. However, when migrants establish themselves abroad, they help friends and relatives to follow and in the process, the costs and risks of migration fall.

Low-skilled migration has the largest potential to reduce the depth and severity of poverty in communities of origin.

Hence, international migration is usually positive both for countries of origin and of destination and its potential benefits are larger than the potential gains from freer international trade, particularly for developing countries.

Migration Today

The total number of international migrants increased from an estimated 175 million in 2000 to 244 million persons in 2015.

Nearly two-thirds of all international migrants live in Europe (76 million) or Asia (75 million).

  International Migrants Day observed globally

Migration is now more widely distributed across more countries. Today the top 10 countries of destination receive a smaller share of all migrants than in 2000. Further, one of every ten migrants is under the age of 15 years. 

The impact of remittance flows is also significant having reached $436 billion in 2014, far exceeding official development assistance and, excluding China, foreign direct investment.


  • On December 4, 2000, the UN General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed December 18 as International Migrants Day. On that day, in 1990, the Assembly had adopted the International Convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families.
  • A high-level dialogue was conducted by UN General Assembly on September 14-15, 2006, which saw participation from 132 member states.
  • On the occasion, the member nations reaffirmed the following key messages:
  • They underscored that international migration was a growing phenomenon and that it could make a positive contribution to development in countries of origin and countries of destination provided it was supported by the right policies.
  • They emphasised that respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of all migrants was essential to reap the benefits of international migration.
  • They recognised the importance of strengthening international cooperation on international migration bilaterally, regionally and globally.
  • Although the High-level Dialogue stressed that international migration could contribute to development, it recognised that international migration was not a substitute for development, as often migrants were compelled to seek employment abroad because of poverty, conflict or violations of human rights.
  • The member states agreed that international migration needed to be an integral part of the development agenda and should be part of national development strategies.
  • In September 2016 The UN General Assembly hosted a high-level summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants, with the aim of bringing countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach.
  • It was the first time the General Assembly had called for a summit at the Heads of State and Government level on large movements of refugees and migrants and was a historic opportunity to come up with a blueprint for a better international response.

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