By Catherine Wihtol de Wenden
Passage au crible n°10
During the first week of November 2009, the 3rd Global Forum on Migration and development took place in Athens, after Brussels in 2007 and Manila in 2008, on the same topic. It means a project of World Governance of Migration, associating departure and arrival countries, IGOs, NGOs, associations, trade unions, employers and experts.
In 1994, the World Conference of Cairo on Population, for the first time, mentioned migrations as a topic of international interest (chapter 10). Ten years later, following the GMG, Kofi Annan, then General Secretary of the United Nations, decided to support this initiative with the creation of a High Level Dialogue which took place in New York in 2006 and which gave birth to the annual Forums on Migration and Development. The analysis started from the discrepancies of intergovernmental policies of welcome countries only, which are quite exclusively focused on border controls and give birth to multiple perverse and unexpected effects deeply challenging human rights.
In 2004, some international organisations (the Geneva Migration Group, then the Global Migration Group, GMG) including the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees), the ILO (International Labour Organisation), the IOM (International Organisation for Migrations) all settled in Geneva proposed a new multilateral mechanism of governance aiming at developing a common platform on migration policies. The idea was to secure mobility at world level and to change migration into a development factor for welcome and departure countries and for migrants as well, according to a win, win, win approach.
This process is double: on one hand, it defines migrations as a Global Public Good, a stake of world governance. One the other hand, it promotes multilateralism as a method of negotiation between actors with opposed interests.
1. Migrations, a Global Public Good
The expert’s reports have shown that mobility has become a core factor of Human development. In order to reduce inequalities at world scale, one should politically secure mobility in order to turn it into a Global Public Good.
2. Multilateralism, a method
Inside the United Nations, the compromise consisted, in 2006, in associating migration and development, two notions which became the title and the content of the following World Forums. Three major ideas have arisen: 1) A dialogue on migrations and development is possible if there is an exchange between contradictory positions. 2) It is necessary to link migration with development without only focusing on the economic effects of remittances but thanks to granting an interest on innovation and on the freedom brought by mobility. 3) It is urgent to focus on operational measures which allow managing migrations with a pro-active win win win approach for welcome, departure countries and for migrants as well. Multilateralism also offers to the various protagonists the opportunity to emphasize the transnational character of migration flows and migrant’s behaviours which are following. It also underlines the economic, family, social and cultural networks. This diplomacy of migrations overcomes the security approach consisting in reducing migrations to border crossing, border control and attempts to State sovereignty.
The three Forums respectively held in Brussels, Manila and Athens made separate meetings for immigration and emigration States and civil society (1000 participants in Athens: migrants associations, human rights associations, experts, trade unions, employers, development associations). The interests of civil society are themselves somewhat dispersed and controversial. So, most associations and emigration countries have focused their mobilisation around the signature by western immigration countries of the UN Convention of 1990. This treaty, which also defines irregular migrant’s rights, is focused on the Rights of all Migrant Workers and their Families. It has entered into application in 2003, and it also includes specific articles on international cooperation. But it is nowadays a failure, because it has been signed by only 42 States, all southern ones. Moreover, the trade unions consider the Forum as a parallel diplomacy, the members of the so called civil society being marginalised and co-opted. Finally, according to them, the discussions between Diasporas associations and NGOs were unclear and these processes were organised outside the United Nations.
However, big organisations as UNHCR, IOM, ICMC (International Catholic Migrants Committee), ILO have a positive approach of the exercise, putting the emphasis on a work in progress: while the Brussels Forum was focusing on the accuracy of the human rights approach, the Manila Forum dedicated itself on human rights practices and the Athens Forum on development in origin and arrival countries. The main proposals of Athens are following: 1) Integrating migration among poverty reduction strategies. 2) Framing a better coherence and coordination between migration and development at national policies scale. 3) Collecting data in countries of origin and arrival on circular migrations. 4) Studying migration profiles, return and reintegration experiences including Diasporas and the impact of the crisis. 5) Comparing the best practices of integration and social protection. 6) Lowering remittances costs, studying their impact on the well being of populations in situ. 7) Analysing the role of climate change on migration. 8) Adopting a global view on all these points in a perspective of better institutional coherence.
Which future for the Forum? The actors of civil society have agreed to avoid the policy of the empty chair. The future Forum, which will take place in Mexico in 2010 aims at creating a space of global debate on migrant’s rights with more legitimacy and credibility. It also proposes to modernise the concepts – namely those defining departure, welcome and transit countries – more and more blurred, taking the example of Mexico, a country which has the three features. The symbolic process is important and the inclusion of the United Nations (and so UNHCR) is considered as essential to give more weight to such an initiative. A world governance of migrations is conditioned by such an agenda.
HDP (Human Development Program), Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and Development, 2009.
ICRMW, International Steering Committee for the Campaign for Ratification of the Migrants rights Convention, Guide on Ratification. International Convention of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, Geneva, April 2009.
Wihtol de Wenden Catherine, La Globalisation humaine. Paris, PUF, 2009.