The United Nations' International Migrants Day recognizes the efforts, contributions and rights of migrants worldwide.

December 18th is International Migrants Day

On December 4, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed December 18 as International Migrants Day. On December 18, 1990, the General Assembly had adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

What do people do?

Each year the UN invites governments, organizations, and individuals to observe International Migrants Day by distributing information on the human rights and migrants’ fundamental freedoms. People are also invited to share their experiences and contribute to designing action plans to ensure their protection. Organizations actively involved in promoting the day include:

  • “December 18”, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status with the UN.
  • Radio 1812, an initiative that brings together radio stations to celebrate the day.
  • Amnesty International.
  • The International Organization for Migration.
  • The National Network for Immigrants and Refugee Rights.

Many organizations and communities celebrate the day through various activities to alert the general public on facts about migrants, problems with human trafficking, the lives of migrant workers’ children, the plight of refugees and ways in combating racism. Websites, such as www.britkid.org, gives people the opportunity to have a virtual experience of what it is like to come from a migrant background. Lobby groups may also use this day as an opportunity to pressure local public officials to look at issues concerning legalization, immigrant enforcement and migrants’ human rights. Special films and documentaries about migrants are also screened or broadcast on this day.

Public life

International Migrants Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

According to a Global Commission on International Migration report in 2005, the number of international migrants increased from 75 million to about 200 million in the past 30 years and migrants could be found in every part of the world. The report also found that the migration could accelerate due to the growing developmental, demographic and democratic disparities that existed between different world regions. Moreover, migration is driven by powerful economic, social and political forces that governments need to acknowledge as a reality.

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. On that day, a decade earlier, the assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Earlier celebrations of the day can be traced as far back as 1997 when some Asian migrant organizations marked December 18 as the day to recognize the rights, protection, and respect for migrants.

 

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