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UN rights chief urges 'effective and principled migration governance'

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website], Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile] on Monday, gave the opening statement [transcript] at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council in which he addressed, among other pressing human rights issues, the migrant crisis. In his statement, he commended the efforts of ordinary citizens in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the UK who have opened their homes to refugees and have galvanized politically to help with the crisis. While acknowledging that there are no easy or quick solutions, Hussein implored "decision-makers in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific - as well as Europe - to take swift action to establish effective and principled migration governance." He stated that while countries have a right of sovereignty and to determine who can and cannot enter the country, they have "have an obligation to respect international human rights law, refugee law and humanitarian law."

The rights of migrant populations has emerged as the most significant humanitarian issue around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. On Sunday Germany announced [JURIST report] that it is invoking temporary border controls at the nation's southern border with Austria, after thousands of immigrants entered the country in recent days. Last week the Hungarian National Assembly [official website] passed a number of emergency measures [JURIST report] to address the recent mass migration into Europe. Earlier this month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [JURIST report] the global community to develop comprehensive solutions to allow for safe and legal migration after more than 70 bodies, believed to be Syrian asylum seekers, were discovered in a truck near the Austria-Hungary border. On the same day, Ban issued a statement [text] on the recent increase in refugee and migrant tragedies in the Mediterranean and Europe. Also in August the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants urged the EU to create [JURIST report] a new human-rights-minded migration policy to empower migrants and solve the issue of human smuggling in the Euro-zone. In early August the International Organization for Migration (IOM) [official website] reported that more than 2,000 migrants have died [JURIST report] this year in an attempt to enter Europe through the Mediterranean Sea. The British and French governments warned in a joint article [JURIST report] that the world is facing a "global migration crisis." The two government officials stressed that countries must make dealing with the increasing number of migrants a top priority.

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