3rd September 2014
By Stefanie Chernow

Media-Friendly Glossary on Migration

Words matter. When a word is used to describe someone, it can build that person up or put that person down. The fact is that no one likes to be called names. Even small children in a playground know that words can hurt. The way we refer to others implies the opinion we have of them. So, using the proper vocabulary when speaking of someone is not a matter of superfluous courtesy. It is a matter of respect! Indeed, respect is the word that must be at the center of all human interaction.

I am an immigrant. I am part of a network of millions of people who are away from their homeland. Most immigrants can attest to painful experiences of hearing others refer to them in ways that imply that they are less: less capable, less important, less human. Just as social-ethical conduct has come to recognize that human dignity is not based on aspects such as race, gender, or religion, in the same manner my human dignity cannot be based on my immigration status.

I am a human being, and I yearn to be treated in a way that recognizes that I am not a second-class being, but I am a person, fully human. As an immigrant, I thank and applaud the effort of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the Panos Institute to better understand migration terminology and apply it in ways that are respectful, through the Media-Friendly Glossary on Migration. I hope this glossary will help you avoid making the mistake of inadvertently using offensive words, and may this resource assist you to interact with the world of migration with a clearer vision

VANESSA RUSSO Brazilian Immigrant, Orlando, FL, USA

This glossary lists some key terms associated with migration and migrants, to ensure journalists are effectively and ethically reporting on the subject. The glossary is the result of a year-long project supported by the Open Society Foundations. United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and Panos Europe Institute reached out to a scientific committee composed of eight international and civil society organisations working in the field of migration to draft the first version. Including Common Acronyms and Abbreviations