NEW YORK (22 October 2014) – The Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) will be launching its Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders on the margins of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly this 23 October.

These Guidelines will be provided as a document accompanying the report of the Secretary-General on the Protection of Migrants , and seeks to help States develop human-rights respecting border governance measures; and thus improve the respect, protection and fulfillment of the rights of migrants at international borders. As the OHCHR affirms:


‘international borders are not zones of exclusion or exception of human rights obligations’.


In the preparation of these Recommended Principles and Guidelines, the OHCHR on behalf of the Secretary General requested information from States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations about the means to best promote and protect the rights of migrants. The International Detention Coalition responded to this request and contributed significantly to the development of the Recommended Principles and Guidelines, specifically Guideline 8 on the use and limits of detention. We identified the need for states to promote and protect the rights of migrants as a primary concern, and to combat xenophobic and anti-immigrant narratives which have tended to promote border security and enforcement over human rights.  We also highlighted the exceptional nature of detention under international law and that states have an obligation to first pursue non-custodial, community-based alternatives to detention.

Among other things, the Recommended Principles and Guidelines highlight that there should be a presumption against detention and that children should never be detained on the basis of their or their parents’ migration status. Moreover, the Recommended Principles and Guidelines note that if detention is necessary it may only ever be in extreme cases and that–at a very minimum–the conditions of such detention must adhere to the UN Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners and all other relevant international standards on conditions of confinement. Furthermore, the Recommended Principles and Guidelines state that migrants must have access to fundamental human rights based assistance, namely health care, legal aid, consular assistance, interpretation services and competent guardian in the cases of unaccompanied children. Finally, they highlight the necessity of providing ongoing and regular monitoring and evaluation of the places of immigration detention to ensure their compliance with the minimum standards of conditions as well as the ongoing necessity of detention.

The full text of the Recommended Principles and Guidelines is available here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Migration/Pages/WSReportGA69.aspx