Manila: Wednesday, 22nd October 2008 — Migrants’ rights advocates from 40 countries issued their 10–point challenge to governments meeting on 27–30 October for the 2nd Global Forum on Migration & Development.
The parallel event “People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights”, composed of migrants rights advocates, civil society and trade unions, stressed the need to place human rights at the center of the GFMD discussions.
“We call upon governments to demonstrate their commitment to universal human rights, by affirming the human dignity of all migrants, including migrant workers, and ensuring that migrants’ human rights are at the forefront of discussions,” the groups said in a statement.
The 10–point challenge is stated in the group’s Joint Declaration that governments:
The groups have been very vocal in saying that without digging deeper into the root causes of migration, no positive outcomes are likely to come out of the official forum. “In its present form, the GFMD will not contribute to the development of policies to address the vulnerabilities of migrants and increase their protection for migrants, nor will it produce a coherent, effective international migration regime that can address the many complexities involved in migration,” the groups stressed.
They maintained that governments, both sending and receiving countries, must address the root causes of massive migration, especially its feminization, through full employment and generation of local work with dignity, and through combating all forms of abuse of women and all individuals.
“The GFMD must respect the principles laid out in this declaration in order to be legitimate and effective. We call on governments to respond to these challenges and fulfill their obligations, and create new global mechanisms and processes that are genuinely democratic, transparent and accountable and which will meaningfully ensure each individual’s human rights, freedoms and sustainable development,” the group said.
In September 2006, the United Nations General Assembly convened a High–Level Dialogue to discuss the nexus between migration and development. Secretary General Kofi Annan was a vigorous supporter of the Dialogue, and believed it should mark the beginning of inter–governmental discussions about migration and development. To this end he proposed the creation of a Global Forum, which would make new policy ideas more widely known, catalyze constructive conversations about the issues among governments, add value to existing regional consultations, and encourage an integrated approach to migration and development at both the national and international levels.
More than 127 countries were represented at the High–Level Dialogue, the majority at ministerial level. Following a constructive debate, more than two–thirds of those present at the UN meeting expressed support for the creation of a permanent Global Forum on Migration and Development. The Belgian government offered to host the Forum’s inaugural session in Brussels in 2007.
The Global Forum is a government–led initiative that is open to all 192 United Nations Member States. It is not a decision–making or policymaking body. It is a voluntary process, that wants to address issues related to migration and development in a manner that goes beyond mere analysis. It should identify best practices, promote the exchange of experiences, identify obstacles to smart policymaking, explore and adopt innovative approaches, and enhance cooperation among countries. The first meeting of the GFMD was held on 10–11 July 2007 in Brussels, Belgium.
In a television interview with GMA News Ellene Sana, executive director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) said, “the parallel forum is not meant to jeopardize the process, we are actually taking part in the process.” the parallel forum they are going to hold is meant to help and not jeopardize the GFMD.
“The problem with the GFMD is its premise that migration is a global phenomenon and is here to stay,” she said. The CMA believes the GFFMD should instead determine why there is mass migration. “Why not talk about irregular migration? These things will not be discussed in the GFMD,” said Sana.
The Migrant Forum on Asia, another group taking part in the People’s Global Action, said that unlike the GFMD, the PGA is “an open process that aims to raise awareness and raise interest about migration,” said MFA Regional Coordinator William Gois.
“The GFMD, meanwhile, is very pragmatic, no ratifications and agreements will be made during the event,” said Sana.
Gois also said that no government is under any obligation to be bound by whatever is talked about in the GFMD.
Moreover, Sana said the PGA will provide the venue for the meeting of many civil society groups (CSO) who will not be able to go to the GFMD.
“You need space for those who will not be accommodated by the GFMD since the space is very limiting for the CSOs alone,” she said.
Sana said 230 slots have been allotted for CSOs who applied to participate in the GFMD, 30 of which were reserved for Philippine groups.
“Two hundred thirty is very small considering there are so many CSOs,” said Sana.
However, she said they do not support the GFMD fully.
“We are taking part in the GFMD, but we are also critical of it,” she said.
Several migrant groups have already announced their plans to hold a simultaneous picket rally along Roxas Boulevard in Manila during the GFMD to show their dismay over the international conference.
A pueblo or people’s camp will also be set up in Rajah Sulayman Park in Malate, Manila by organizers of the PGA. It will have booths, exhibits, cultural, and educational events.
Meanwhile, Sana said Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos, Jr. told migrant groups that they will hold a post–GFMD meeting to discuss the gains of the event.– GMANews.TV