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Oct. 5, 2017
For Immediate Release

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WATERLOO – A Wilfrid Laurier University associate professor is heading to Geneva to address the United Nations (UN) on Oct. 12 as the international body develops a global compact for safe, orderly and regular international migration.

Jenna Hennebry, a member of Laurier’s School of International Policy and Governance and Department of Communication Studies, co-founded Laurier’s International Migration Research Centre (IMRC) and has frequently worked with the UN on migration issues, particularly in relation to gender.

“I’m excited about speaking to the UN,” said Hennebry. “It’s an opportunity to weigh in on the ideas that are shaping the Global Compact on Migration, which I think will have some tangible consequences for migrants worldwide. It’s an effort to rethink the way we are governing migration. We’ve never had a moment like this before in our history.”

The Global Compact for Migration comes out of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which the UN General Assembly adopted in 2016. It is one of two global compacts the International Organization for Migration (IOM) of the UN is developing – the other being the Global Compact on Refugees – with the goal of adoption in 2018.

Hennebry will speak as an expert in the formal proceedings of the sixth thematic meeting of the Global Compact for Migration. In particular, she will address decent work, labour mobility and social protection for migrant workers. She was nominated by UN Women, an organization she has often worked with in the past.

It will be the second time in just over two weeks Hennebry is speaking in Geneva. She is one of only a handful of Canadians named to the IOM’s Migration Research Leaders Syndicate. As part of her role, she recently wrote two policy briefs on the Global Compact, one on the exploitation of women migrant workers and the other on ensuring access to social protection for migrant workers. She presented these at the IOM on Sept. 27.

When Hennebry speaks to the UN, she plans to urge the body to strengthen recommendations on migrant rights already endorsed by UN agencies such as the IOM and UN Women. She says that although there are some existing international provisions on migrants’ rights, they are patchy and often regional.

“My recommendations include things like strengthening existing frameworks and adherence. We need to continue with the ratification process for existing conventions and moreover we need to hold states to account on those agreements they already are signatories to, such as the Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. We also need more civil society involvement and the voices of women migrants in formulating policies that directly impact their lives.”

Hennebry also says Canadians could be doing more to push the issue at home. “I think a lot of the world is looking to Canada. This is one of those areas where we should be leading and we’re not really. I’m hoping there will be more active engagement from the Canadian government on this.”

The IMRC, which Hennebry directed until July, has consultative status for the Global Compact for Migration. Hennebry is not the first IMRC expert to address the body – Laurier Professor Jonathan Crush spoke at a previous thematic meeting this summer on migration and development issues.

In addition to speaking, Hennebry was asked to provide formal input on a report produced by fellow Canadian Louise Arbour, United Nations Special Representative for International Migration.

“It speaks to the esteem with which the IMRC is regarded in international circles,” said Hennebry.

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Media Contacts:

Jenna Hennebry, Associate Professor

School of International Policy and Governance, Wilfrid Laurier University


Kevin Crowley, Director

Communications and Public Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University

T: 519.884.0710 x3070


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