Words Matter. But Rights Matter More


  • Pia Oberoi




Response to the ATR Debate Proposition: ‘It is important and necessary to make clear distinctions between (irregular) migrants, refugees and trafficked persons.’

The international community has recently taken steps to agree two intergovernmental compacts, which together are intended to revitalise the global governance of migration and asylum. The Global Compact on Refugees seeks to strengthen international cooperation on the refugee regime, while the Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration aims to establish principles, commitments and understandings among Member States regarding international migration in all its dimensions. The compacts have been brought into existence against a backdrop of widespread and increasingly systematic human rights violations committed against migrants by state officials, traffickers and other criminals, and leading to what has been called ‘one of the greatest human tragedies of our time’. At the same time, the very bifurcation of the compacts into two ‘separate, distinct and independent’ agreements rests on a set of assumptions that could distort rather than illuminate the complex issue of contemporary human mobility.


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Author Biography

Pia Oberoi

Pia Oberoi is Advisor on Migration and Human Rights at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights where she heads the OHCHR Migration Team and leads OHCHR’s global programme of work on policy and legal issues related to the intersections between migration and human rights. Prior to this, Pia led the migrant rights work of Amnesty International's International Secretariat. She holds a DPhil in International Relations from St Antony's College, Oxford University. This article is written in her personal capacity and the views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the United Nations.




How to Cite

Oberoi, P. (2018). Words Matter. But Rights Matter More. Anti-Trafficking Review, (11). https://doi.org/10.14197/atr.2012181110