In its last annual global trends report published in June 2013, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees notes that population movements in 2012 involved over 45.2 million people.
While war is the prime cause of these migratory movements, which are constantly on the increase, it is far from being the sole factor forcing children, women and men to leave their everyday surroundings for another geographical area within or outside the borders of their country of origin.
In international law, only refugee status, defined in Article 1A, §2 of the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees, opens up the possibility of international protection for displaced persons. Today, this definition, hinging on persecution or a well-founded fear thereof, no longer covers a growing number of cases where the migrant has taken a decision to move or been forced to do so by a factor beyond their control.
These forced migrations are prompted by new causes: natural, environmental and chemical disasters, consequences of climate change, food insecurity, development policies and projects (major urban developments, roads, airports, ports, etc). They are also engendered by fragile States which do not oppress their people but have failings that render them incapable of providing for fundamental rights and needs on their territory.
The Parliamentary Assembly should closely examine the changing nature of migrant movements and the underlying constraints. The growing migratory pressure that will come to bear on the European continent and, therefore, on member States must be anticipated and will require changes to national legislations. Our Organisation has a duty to draw the full consequences of recognising the phenomenon of forced migration by adapting its array of fundamental rights protection measures.