UN Heaquarters, New York -- The Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), a Washington DC-based service organization for immigrants, has recently secured a permanent pass to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (EcoSoc) on Human Rights and Migration, through the auspices of the Foundation for the Support of the United Nations (FSUN).
This is a milestone in the movement for recognition of the rights of immigrants in the US, with MHC as the first Filipino-American non-governmental organization to have gained such status in the UN. With the permanent pass, the MHC will be participating in international meetings, conferences, and panel discussions that tackle human rights and migration issues. In a course of three years, the MHC shall have gained its own General Consultative Status with the UN. MHC Co- Executive Director Arnedo Valera said that MHC’s accreditation was upon the recommendation of Janet Salazar, the UN permanent representative of the FSUN and treasurer of the executive committee of non-government organizations (NGOs) associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information.
Valera completed the process of accreditation and affiliation with the UN on January 13, 2011 at the UN Headquarters in New York City. Valera and Salazar met with Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador H.E. Libran Cabactulan in New York to discuss ways on how to best secure and protect Filipino migrants in the US. “Forging a genuine partnership is a big challenge on the issue on human rights and migration. But we have to find creative ways for partnerships between governments, NGOS, and the civil society to understand fully well the nature of migration and why human and labor trafficking is a serious global problem,” said Valera.
For her part, Salazar emphasized the importance of immigrants both to their home countries and the countries where they work. “Thus governments must find ways that they are protected and given due recognition.”
The Philippines ranks second in the watch list on human and labor trafficking worldwide for the past two years. In response to this, the MHC has recently lobbied for Philippine Senate to pass a law protecting the rights of migrant workers in a Magna Carta for Migrant Workers. Valera also asked Ambassador Cabactulan to call for the audit of the billion pesos designated as reserve and assistance funds for overseas Filipino workers and migrants which have remained unaccounted for by the previous administration. "These funds if used properly can help immigrants in dire situations,” Valera said.
Ambassador Cabactulan expressed openness to forging partnerships with the NGOs and the civil society as a whole and said that he will make the necessary recommendations to government on human rights and migration issues.
MHC will attend the 24th Conference of Non-government Organizations in Consultative Relations with the UN on January 17-19 at the UN Headquarters in New York to discuss on the broad range of issues covering gender equality, education, governance, and racial equality. MHC is headed by three Executive Directors, Arnedo S. Valera, Esq., Grace Valera-Jaramillo and Jesse A. Gatchalian, all recipients of the Twenty Outstanding Filipinos in America/Abroad (TOFA) Award. Last month, the three executive directors participated in the panel discussions of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW) at the United Nations (UN) in New York.
MHC’s programs which covers legal assistance, medical and health program, cultural development, education and literacy, social welfare, and communications, publications and research are geared towards addressing the increasing concerns of immigrants in the US.
Founded on December 30, 2005, MHC is guided by a Board of Directors and a Board of Advisers. It is being supported by various partner organizations, numerous committed volunteers and designated Envoys for Unity and Service nominated from among the leaders and key members of the immigrant/migrant community.
MHC delegation in New York with UN officials.
L-R (seated): Amy Muedin, Programme Specialist, International Organization for Migration (IOM); Constance J. Peak, Director, Program Dev't and Support, FSUN. L-R (standing): Jesse A. Gatchalian, MHC Co-Executive Director; Janet C. Salazar, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, FSUN; Patrick Taran, Senior Migration Specialist, International Labour Office (ILO) in Geneva ; Arnedo S. Valera, MHC Co-Executive Director; Paola Pace, Acting Head, International Migration Law Unit of IOM in Geneva and Grace Valera-Jaramillo, MHC Co-Executive Director.
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