Minister calls for more migration co-operation

It was Sommaruga's first UN meeting in New York Keystone

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga has told a high-level United Nations meeting that migrants worldwide should be better protected.

This content was published on October 4, 2013 - 10:42 and agencies

“For a long time, Switzerland was a country of emigration. Today, measured against the country's population, Switzerland has one of the highest rates of immigration worldwide,” the minister said, referring to the fact that Switzerland’s population is about 20 per cent foreigners.

“Immigration makes an important contribution to Switzerland's economic, social and cultural development. Nevertheless there are circles that wish to restrict immigration,” she added on Thursday.

This is not the case in many other European countries, Sommaruga observed, because they have a labour shortage in many sectors. At the same time, Europeans from economic-crisis affected countries are seeking work elsewhere.

Many countries are at once countries of origin, transit and destination, meaning that many countries have things in common when it comes to migration, she continued. “This is an important chance: where there are similarities, there are automatically opportunities for cooperation.”

Switzerland fosters this cooperation thought bilateral partnerships on migration, but for issues of regional or global significance, “bilateral cooperation does not go far enough...It needs to be complimented by multilateral dialogue,” the justice minister said.

Switzerland supports the UN’s eight-point agenda for action on migration and in particular action against human trafficking and the move towards better protection of the human rights of migrants, Sommaruga pointed out. She also highlighted how migration could contribute significantly to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals set out to be completed by 2015.

State responsibilities

But states should not be freed of their responsibilities to protect migrants and help them integrate, while expecting them to contribute in their turn, she warned.

The minister’s latest comments came during her first visit to New York for a high-level UN meeting.

The meeting also revealed new data on the number of migrants worldwide, which has continued to rise since 1990 from 154 million to 232 million today.

As part of this week’s UN dialogue, the Swiss delegation organised two events with southern nations to discuss human migration issues. Together with Bangladesh, Switzerland worked to ensure that migration would play a significant role in the Millennium Development Goals.


While in New York, Sommaruga also addressed issues such as cybercrime, online child pornography and human trafficking. To understand how to combat online crime, she paid a visit to the “Real Time Crime Center” at the New York Police Department (NYPD) and saw how a network of police information and data could be key to catching cybercriminals. 

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