United for change at UN High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development

 

Below you will find the press release stemming from the UN High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.  THP actively participated in the event in New York and were pleased with the developments until now.  We will be monitoring further developements in the run up to the High-Level Dialogue on the 3rd-4th of October, 2013.  

For only the second time in history, the UN General Assembly brought civil society leaders and networks from around the world to New York on 15 July to present their experience and recommendations to governments in Interactive Hearings regarding international migration and development. More than 300 representatives of grassroots, regional and international civil society organizations met with 100 governments, UN agencies and other international organizations in the Hearings ahead of the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (HLD) that UN Member States will be holding at the UN on 3-4 October, seven years after the first HLD in September 2006.

“We come together to be engaged in transformative dialogue”, said William Gois of Migrant Forum Asia representing a broad global coalition of more than 100 civil society organizations in the opening session. “We come with an eight-point agenda that we want to work on with you, governments, over five-years to bring about real change, substantive change, to demonstrate our commitment to bring an end to the ‘globalization of indifference.’

Unprecedented convergence

Asked about the key questions that the HLD, governments, civil society and the private sectors together, should address, John K. Bingham, Head of Policy for the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) and coordinator of the international Civil Society Steering Committee which has been organizing civil society participation in the High-level Dialogue, referred directly to the 5-year action agenda: “Questions like how to regulate private agencies that recruit, place and often abuse foreign workers; how to better respond to boat people and other migrants seriously hurt or traumatized in migration journeys -many at the hands of merciless human traffickers, smugglers and other criminals; how to set and achieve global goals for development that provide countries and people with decent work at home and opportunities to migrate safely, legally and affordably; how to build and strengthen rights-based systems for legal labour migration and decent working and living conditions; integration and options for citizenship in countries of destination; and how to further promote the positive engagement of migrants and diaspora communities in countries to and from which they have migrated.” 

Civil society organized extensively in preparation for the Hearings and High-level Dialogue. In addition to two full days of meetings in New York immediately preceding the Hearings, leaders of non-governmental organizations, trade unions, migrant and diaspora associations, youth groups, academia and the private sector around the world organized over 20 national, regional and thematic meetings in Brazil, Germany, Greece, Jordan, Kenya, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Switzerland, Thailand and the US, among others, specifically to prepare for these Hearings and the HLD (click herefor an overview of many of these events). With support from funders including the Open Society Foundations, the MacArthur Foundation, Fundación Bancomer, and the governments of Germany, Mexico the Netherlands and Switzerland, these meetings centered on the issues of civil society’s 5-year agenda for collaboration with governments.

The driving force—and achievement—of these meetings? “Unprecedented convergence around these issues in global civil society”, as Mr. Bingham noted during the preparatory meetings on 13 July.  “Convergence not meaning perfect consensus, but clear common ground and imperatives amongst the diversity of voices in civil society around the world.”

Threshold of a new era

In his opening address at the Hearings, Sir Peter Sutherland, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for International Migration, commended civil society for the seriousness of its engagement and in particular for civil society’s proposal of the 5-year, 8 point collaboration with governments.  “Today, civil society is becoming a true partner. Civil society has upped its game, offering a focused, smart and practical agenda […] drawing on real experience, profound field experience, […] focusing on action rather than rhetoric. […] We are on the threshold of a new era of international cooperation on migration and the HLD is our chance to crossover,”Sutherland concluded, “the HLD cannot become just another sterile debate, without any practical consequences.”

The one-day Hearings focused explicitly on the key issues put forward in civil society’s 5-year agenda: [1] migrant labour and mobility, [2] migrant rights and protection, [3] human development and diaspora action and [4] migration governance and partnerships. In addition to 49 speakers from diaspora and migrant organizations, human rights and development groups, labour organizations, and the private sector, representatives of the governments of Australia, Bangladesh, Israel, Mexico, the Philippines, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States as well as the European Union and the International Organization for Migration took the floor. The full programme is available here.

The world gets smarter when people move

Throughout the day, speakers echoed the issues put forward in the 5-year agenda and made practical suggestions on issues such as how to include migration and migrants in the new global development agenda, after the Millennium Development Goals expire, how to better regulate the recruitment industry, and how put an end to the criminalization of migrants. One speaker reminded the audience that “24 years ago the whole world celebrated the falling of walls. Today, unfortunately, walls are coming back up. We see the criminalization of migrants and militarization at borders”.  Many speakers called for stronger more robust collaboration and new partnerships, between civil society, businesses and governments, at local, national and regional levels.“Implementation of migrant rights will happen at the workplace, by companies on the shop floor, the store front, the production line”, Isabel de Sola, speaking on behalf of the World Economic Forum (WEF) said. “[We] could collaborate much more closely to build capacity and awareness on strengthening the implementation of migrant’s rights at these levels.”

Above all, UN Member States were urged to recognize — and better respond to — migration as a benefit, not a threat, especially when it is squarely centered on universal rights, and is a choice, not a necessity.   “When you stop people from moving you stop ideas from moving,” noted Ms. Ola Orekunrin, a migrant entrepreneur who founded Flying Doctors-Nigeria, and one of the many youth voices during the Hearings, “the world gets smarter when people move!”

Click here to watch the full broadcast of the Interactive Hearings, July 15th, produced by UN web tv.
Click here to see approximately 180 pictures from the events on 13, 14 and 15 July (feel free to download and use the pictures. If used publicly, thank you for crediting Texty.nl).

Copyright © 2013 ICMC’s GFMD and HLD Civil Society Coordinating Office, All rights reserved.