Submission to the UN Secretary General's Report on the Human Rights of Migrants

PI provided input to the UN Secretary General's Report on the Human Rights of Migrants, calling for better protection of migrants against uses of technology for border governance and immigration control.


Our submission focused on (1) the ways in which states are adopting data-intensive ID systems; (2) the adoption by national immigration enforcement agencies of other privacy-intrusive modes of surveillance and control, including tracking by way of 24/7 Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and mobile device data extraction; (3) how the intensification of border surveillance technologies facilitates further human rights violations; (4) the impact of border externalisation and transfer of surveillance capabilities to third countries; (5) access to existing databases for other purposes and mission creep; and (6) the increasing dependency on private companies to perform migration and border management duties.

We called on the UN Secretary-General's report to:

  1. Examine the use of new and emerging technologies at borders and assesses their implications for the human rights of migrants;
  2. Adopt a wide approach to the understanding of borders, taking into account considerations about border externalisation and border digitalisation;
  3. Urge states to ensure that the deployment of digital technologies to manage migration occurs strictly in accordance with human rights standards, including the rights to privacy and data protection of migrants;
  4. Recommend on states to ensure that their use of digital technologies in border enforcement and administration does not results in exclusionary and discriminatory impacts on migrants;
  5. Urge states to cease using intrusive surveillance technologies, such as GPS tags and mobile phone extraction, in violation of the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality against migrants;
  6. Urge states to systematically conduct human rights due diligence, including regular comprehensive human rights impact assessments, when designing, developing, purchasing, deploying, and operating existing and emerging technologies for migration and border control purposes;
  7. Call on states to ensure that all projects financing border externalisation are carried out in accordance with international human rights standards, and that human rights impact assessments are conducted prior to the approval of any project;
  8. Recall the responsibility of all business enterprises to respect human rights, and states’ duty to protect human rights even when outsourcing surveillance and border control functions to the private sector;
  9. Require that a public private partnership collaboration is carried out in accordance with international human rights standards, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; and
  10. Call on states to separate national immigration enforcement and administration from the delivery of essential services to enable a truly migrant-inclusive, non-discriminatory social protection system.