Development - Justice and Home Affairs

70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly - Jean Asselborn sets out the Presidency's policy on the refugee crisis and calls for action on the "root causes of migration and refugee movements"

In a speech given on 1 October 2015 before the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Asylum, addressed the issue of migration, which he described as a "priority" for the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This is an issue "to which I am fully committed", he added.

We have decided to publish in full the part of Jean Asselborn's speech that summarises his address to the representatives of every State across the globe on the Luxembourg Presidency's policy regarding the refugee crisis.

"According to data from the High Commissioner for Refugees, there are currently 59.5 million displaced persons, including refugees, the highest number since 1945.

The continuous flow of migrants, this 'wave of human misery', to borrow the words of the Secretary General, has forced us to face our responsibilities; our responsibilities as political leaders, as members of the international community, and as human beings.

In times of crisis, trends towards unilateralism, as well as nationalist or even populist reactions, have an unfortunate tendency to resurface. Tragically, such has been the case yet again this summer.

However, no country has the capacity to face this unprecedented migrant and refugee crisis alone. Turning in on ourselves is not the solution.

Only by working together — countries of origin, transit countries and host countries — can we respond to the challenge posed by these new migratory movements, in the Mediterranean basin, in the Balkans and elsewhere. Only by firmly anchoring our actions in meeting our international commitments can we find a solution that lives up to our shared values, the values on which the United Nations and the European Union were founded.

At European Union level, the first step has been taken with the decision taken last week with a view to relocating 120,000 individuals who are clearly in need of international protection. Other decisions will follow soon. The European Union will respond to the urgent needs of refugees by providing additional assistance to the HCR, the World Food Programme and other bodies to the tune of at least one billion euros. We will increase our aid to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey in order to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis. We will help the Western Balkan countries to manage the arrival of refugees, in particular through pre-accession instruments.

However, we cannot content ourselves with merely managing the crisis, treating the symptoms; we also need to tackle the root causes of migration and refugee flows, inequalities in development, particularly in Africa, conflict and violence, the absence of the rule of law, persecutions and human rights violations and impunity.

This brings us on to the link between security, development and respect for human rights, and the need to adopt a global, integrated approach with the optimal combination of foreign policy and security, trade, development cooperation and migration instruments.

The Valetta Summit on 11 and 12 November should facilitate a discussion with our African partners on an overall approach to the issue of migration, which I welcome."

  • Updated 01-10-2015