François Crépeau, who just completed a six-year term as the United Nations' leading investigator on the human rights of migrants, says sealed borders are fantasy. (ACHILLEAS ZAVALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Why nothing will stop people from migrating: an interview with François Crépeau

Article on CBC
7 January, 2018

For the last six years, Canadian lawyer François Crépeau has served as the United Nations’ leading investigator and expert on the human rights of migrants. His post put him on the frontlines of an international crisis, during some of the most challenging years in recent memory…

He spoke to The Sunday Edition host Michael Enright about his time as UN special rapporteur and about why he believes resisting migration is an impossible goal.

In the last six years, in your position with the UN, you’ve travelled around the world. You’ve visited detention centres, camps, places where people try to cross borders. What stands out in your mind now from those visits?

François Crépeau: I was expecting this to be very grim. And what stood out from day one, when visiting detention centres or camps, was the sheer determination, the grit, the courage of those people — the fact that even if they were detained, in their mind they were already somewhere else. They were already in the next step of their journey. They might be sent back home, but they would come back.

They are going to come whether we like it or not, because this is what humankind has always done. They are going to try to find a place where they can thrive, flourish, feed their kids and educate their kids. They don’t do it, often, because they like it. They do it because that’s where the future lies for themselves and their families

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Populism and Migration

Prof. François Crépeau @ The Conference on “Populism and European Policies: The Challenges Ahead” World Trade Institute, 22-23 June 2017
7 July, 2017