Arancha González Laya addresses migration with United Nations in Geneva

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, has held meetings today in Geneva with the Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Antonio Vitorino, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Michelle Bachelet. The aim of the meetings was to monitor Spain’s relations with these organisations, particularly within the context of the humanitarian challenges and for human rights stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

At her first meeting, the minister addressed the migratory crisis in the Mediterranean, in the Sahel, and, in particular, the crisis reopened through the Atlantic route which has led to a mass arrival of immigrants in the Canary Islands in recent days. Arancha González Laya informed the Director-General of the IOM of the action plan designed by the Spanish authorities and requested the collaboration of the IOM in applying the plan.

The minister highlighted the effectiveness of the IOM in the implementation of its projects, some of which are financed by Spain. As regards the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, Arancha González Laya stressed that this inspired the broad strokes of Spanish migration policy.

In her meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Minister González Laya praised the strategic association with the UNHCR, whose collaboration has been decisive in a period in which Spain has seen an exponential rise the number of applications for international protection. Our country has responded to this collaboration by becoming one of the main contributors to the organisation, particularly through contributions from civil society, remarked the minister, who also mentioned Spain’s key role for ensuring that the European Union maintains an asylum policy in line with the standards of protection advocated by the High Commissioner. Arancha González Laya reported on Spain’s compliance with the commitments presented at the first Global Forum on Refugees, held in Geneva in December 2019, and announced the progress on a National Action Plan to apply the Global Compact on Refugees.

One area in which cooperation with the UNHCR has been stepped up is in Latin America, stressed the minister, since the mobilisation to alleviate the effects of displacements in the region caused by the crisis in Venezuela has now been enhanced by Spain’s Presidency of the Platform to Support the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (MIRPS) for forced displacements in the region of Central America/Mexico.

As with Director-General Vitorino, the minister addressed the displacement crisis in the Mediterranean and the Sahel.  

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation conveyed to both Antonio Vitorino and to Filippo Grandi Spain’s assessment of the European Pact on Migration and Asylum, which is currently under negotiation, pointing out that it is essential for it to enshrine the principles of solidarity and shared responsibility among all EU Member States.

At her meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Minister González Laya had the opportunity to present him with the Joint Declaration for Stronger Multilateralism, launched on 10 November by the President of the Government of Spain, together with 10 other countries from all parts of the world. Given that this Declaration contains the central elements of the defence of human rights, democracy and gender equality, Spain considers that the Office of the High Commissioner should play an important role in this process. The minister also stressed to the high commissioner that even when Spain’s three-year mandate as a member of the Human Rights Council comes to an end on 31 December, it can still be relied on as an “honest and reliable mediator” in the always complicated negotiations on human rights and as a constructive player in initiatives designed to improve the international system for the protection and promotion of human rights. Lastly, the minister and the high commissioner reviewed the evolution of such specific human rights situations as that in Venezuela and the one affecting human rights defenders in Central America.



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