United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on all countries which have not yet done so to sign and ratify the international treaty on the rights of migrant workers and their families, calling it "a landmark in the broader struggle for the international protection of human rights."
"Migrant workers are not merely units of labour," Mr. Annan said in a statement on the entry into force on 1 July of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. "They are human beings entitled to respect for human rights - and this understanding is the cornerstone of the Convention."
Noting that only 22 countries had ratified it so far and 10 others had signed but not yet ratified it, he added: "Only when it is ratified by a large number of countries, including those receiving significant numbers of immigrants, will we be able to say that the promise of the Convention is being translated into reality."
Mr. Annan, who was in Geneva to deliver the opening address to the annual session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), chaired a meeting on migration and asylum issues and then visited the International Labour Organization.
Before departing for Bern, the Swiss capital, he also met with José Maria Figueres-Olsen, his special Representative on Information and Communications Technologies, John Negroponte, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, and Martti Ahtisaari, his Special Envoy for the Humanitarian Crisis in the Horn of Africa.