'Global Forum on Migration and Development' MV's diary

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 Migrant Voice - 'Global Forum on Migration and Development' MV's diary

Nazek, London

From 12-14 May 2014, Migrant Voice attended the Global Forum on Migration and Development meeting in Stockholm as a civil society representative. The Global Forum is a UN process bringing together governments and policy makers in order to explore the relationship between migration and development, and to further cooperation on practical initiatives. The meeting featured a parallel program where civil society members, including academics, grassroots organisations and NGOs, hold deliberations and share their views with particpating states.

During the forum Director Nazek Ramadan shared daily diary updates reporting on the meeting, they are posted below:  

Day 3 Migrant Voice’s diary and highlights from the Global Forum on Migration and Development. Stockholm, Sweden 14 May 2014

Opening States’ GFMD Summit and Common Space “Unlocking the potential of migration for inclusive development”

Day 3 is the day where civil society and government representatives share a physical and an intellectual space. As we, civil society activists, have concluded our reflections and discussions over the past two days, we pass on our wish list (strengthened goals and targets) to the governmental officials who we believe have the power to grant us our wishes, on their way in and our way out. But we do stop for a coffee or two and a conversation or two. It is more like a revolving meeting room than a revolving door. The Common Space somehow makes us feel equal for a day. We all share the same presentations, workshops, discussions and plenary. We even get to share the evening reception. For one day, we have also access to royalty and international high profile dignitaries and the privilege to be addressed directly by them. Man made artificial barriers are removed and we all become just humans again, as you can not tell who is who any more, except of course for the Crown Princess and the Secretary General of the United Nations who were swiftly brought in and out. Some barriers are harder to totally remove. Unlike the first two days (Civil Society Days) where no security measures were needed to protect us from each other, the Common Space Day has an airport style security system. So, equal, we are not, but it felt good to think we were for one day. Two Swedish ministers welcomed the over 900 guests and set the tone for a positive conversation: Tobias Billström, Minister for Migration and Asylum, and Hillevi Engström, Minister for International Development and Cooperation. It was clear that Sweden, which has some of the best immigration and integration policies and practices in Europe, has put its heart and soul into this event. Whether you are a monarchist or not, Crown Princess Victoria’s opening speech was very well received.  The Princess told the story of a man she met at a refugee camp, who was still carrying the keys to his house and was dreaming of the day his children can go back home. She told the meeting that Sweden has been built for centuries by Swedes and migrants. Swedes have also left their country elsewhere. She said that mobility across borders belongs to the new world we live in, and ended her speech with a message close to Migrant Voice’s heart: “Let us build a world where everyone can feel included and respected”. The Swedish Crown Princess’ speech was followed by another expectedly inspirational speech, by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The UN Secretary General expressed his deep concerns for the loss of life in the Mediterranean and described it as unacceptable. He called for the protection of all migrants whether at sea, on land or wherever they are. Ban Ki-Moon said that migration should be a journey of hope, not a penurious game in which migrants and their family members risk their lives and livelihood. “We must find concrete solutions” he added. He also expressed his particular concerns for the detention of migrants for administrative purposes, including very young children. The Secretary General said that we must always stay true to universal values and not allow opportunists to divide societies by exploiting fear and hatred for political gains, especially in time of high unemployment, and called for vigilance against the tendency to scapegoating migrants. Among the other speakers was the Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, who presented migration as a central part of his country’s history. This has immediately provoked a question in my mind: UK too? But looking at the attendance list, the UK representation to this global event was among the most modest ones in terms of numbers and profile. The Swedish Prime Minister referred to the debate on migration in Sweden and across Europe, and how it has often revolved around problems. He proudly concluded that Sweden has the most open system for labour migration in the world. Obviously, we in the UK (civil society) have a lot to do. The civil society is also given the platform to present at the main plenary session. Michel LeVoy, Chair of the GFMD Civil Society, reported back summary of the views and recommendations from the past couple of days. My favourite part of the day by far was the lively presentation by Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health at the Karolinska Institute and co-founder and Chairman of the Gapminder Foundation: ‘The Facts about the world’. To see and learn more about Professor Rosling’s work, visit his website: www.gapminder.org. The simultaneous break-out sessions made the conversation within the Common Space more achievable. The sessions looked at the following: 1- Situating migration and migrants in national and post 2015 international development agendas; partnering with the international development community, national policy makers and development, migrant and other civil society organisations 2- Realising decent labour migration and decent employment; partnering with states, businesses, labour organisations, diaspora entrepreneurs and other civil society organisations 3- Empowering migrants and communities for social inclusion and human development; partnering with states, local authorities and civil society. Each session had a number of speakers from governments and local authorities, international agencies and civil society organisations. On my session, on empowering migrants, the two civil society speakers were: Monami Maulik, Founder and Director of DRUM, Desis Rising Up and Moving, from the USA, and Sicel mpilo Shanage-Buthane, Director of CORMSA, South Africa. Both organisations work on empowering and supporting migrants as well as towards more equal and inclusive society. Questions and comments were invited from the floor following the presentations of the speakers. All three sessions fed back their main discussion points to the plenary. I was pleased to hear at my session from the Vice-Minister for Salvadorans Abroad, El Salvador, that since a year ago in his country, and by law, they create institutional bodies to bring together migrants, local authority, academics and others. This aims to facilitate links and interaction between migrants and other stakeholders and to ensure that migrants are influencing the policies which affect them. This bears some similarity to the Mayor of London Migrant and Refugee Integration Strategy advisory panel. Charlotte Svensson, Director of the Labour Market Administration in the City of Stockholm, reminded us of how global starts at local level by saying that “people do not live in the state; they live in cities, towns and neighbourhoods.” Among the many conclusions and recommendations from the day and two previous ones were: the importance of getting the right narrative on migration; the importance of having a dialogue between civil society and policy makers; engaging the public in conversation around migration; and participation of migrants in national dialogue. This sounds very much like Migrant Voice My invitation and participation in the GFMD ends today but the discussions among governments and international agencies and organisations around migration and development will continue for two more days. As for now, all of us from the civil society will be going from the global event to the local work.  Migrant Voice’s camera caught up with some of the migrants at the event. The interviews will be up soon on our facebook and other social media platforms. Nazek Ramadan   Day 2 Migrant Voice’ Diary and Highlight from the Global forum on Migration and Development - Civil Society Days- Stockholm Sweden 13 May 2014   Shaping Migration and Development Goals: global movement, change on the ground The second day of the Civil Society Days Started with a return to the themed workshops aimed at shaping the main goals of the GFMD: Theme 1: Shaping goals for labour mobility, labour rights and decent work: Improving migrant labour recruitment, placement and employment practices Theme 2: Shaping goals for the protection of migrants and families: Protecting and empowering children in contexts of migration Theme 3: Shaping goals for the empowerment of migrants and communities for social inclusion and human development: Facilitating migrant and diaspora organisations as transnational social investors and policy advocates for access to services and public policy changes. The workshops were designed to identify good and inspiring practices, recommendations, indicators for progress and next steps. Findings from all the thematic workshops on both days were reported back to all the delegates at the plenary session. The recommendations included the creation of platforms to share experiences and resources while building a movement that is multi-sectoral and includes local government, civil society, media, academic and private sectors; advocating for states to ensure access to justice including through due process guarantees for migrants in transit, distress, at borders and in detention at national and regional levels, regardless of their status; protection to children in the context of mobility as a whole; and ratification of regional agreements to protect workers and for policy coherence. There was a notable contribution from the Middle East and the Gulf countries including Lebanon, Bahrain and Qatar to the discussions on labour recruitment, placement and employment practices workshop. Human Rights violations were reported as an impediment to progress and to the work of NGOs in some countries. There were some good practices from the Lebanon, which has a bad record for the experiences of some of the domestic workers by employers. The good practices included training immigration officers and the police in identifying trafficked workers and in informing migrant workers of their rights. A contributor from Greece urged the delegates to put the issue of hate crime and exploitation of migrants on the agenda. She gave an example of a recent incident in Greece, where a number of migrant workers (strawberry pickers), were shot by a farmer for asking for better rights. The contributor also called on the Forum to press for a simpler and a shorter legal procedure to prosecute the abusers of migrants. At the plenary, Eva Akerman Borje, Ambassador, Head of the secretariat for the GFMD Swedish Chairmanship, confirmed Sweden’s continued commitment to supporting the work of the GFMD. She sees civil society actors as partners to her government as they have shared goals. Borje stressed the importance of facilitating safe, orderly and legal migration and acknowledged the contribution migrants make to Sweden. Perhaps the most inspiring contribution at the closing plenary session for the Civil Days part of the GFMD was made by Sir Peter Sutherland. Sutherland explained that in the world today there are xenophobic ideologies, carried by political parties, which are damaging to our societies. He called on the delegates to demand work towards humanity and not just development. He reminded NGOs of their enormous obligations to put facts out there together with the UN agencies, which avoid the sort of confusion drawn across societies in Europe to see migration as a threat. He said that people who think that their countries have a much higher percentage of migrants than they really do, are living in a world which is unreal, provoked by extremist political parties who express ridiculous views. He saw an important role for civil society as a vehicle putting factual information before the people. Day 2 of the Civil Society Days ended on a high note and strong commitment to move forward with Forum’s agenda and strengthened goals. The implementation of the global agenda starts at the local level. There is a lot of work to do for all the delegates returning to their countries, between now and the next GFMD, which will take place in Istanbul in the later months of 2015. Migrant Voice was delighted to be invited to the Civil Society Days of the GFMD and to participate in this important global conversation. Please check Migrant Voice’s facebook in the coming days to hear a number of migrant voices from the GFMD. Day 3 is the ‘Opening States’ GFMD Summit and Common Space. Migrant Voice will be joining 500 senior migration and development leaders from 150 countries and all the civil society delegates, as well as representatives of the UN and other international and regional institutions and governments for a 5 hour open space style dialogue and conversation about migration and development. Nazek Ramadan   Migrant Voice’s highlight from The Global Forum on Migration and Development Civil Society Days - Stockholm, Sweden Day 1 – 12 May 2014 Under the theme ‘Shaping Migration & Development Goals: global movement, change on the ground', the Global Forum On Migration and Development launched the first of the two Civil Society days with inspirational opening remarks. Michele LeVoy, Director of PICUM and Civil Society Chair presented a global picture, using human stories from around the world to highlight the plight of migrants and the impact of some of the policies on their lives. Among the people she told their stories was a young migrant who has been denied access to health and became the first migrant to die from a treatable illness in Spain due to the latest changes introduced under the austerity measures. LeVoy told over 250 delegates from 150 countries that migrants are not the problem, migrants are part of the solution. The first panel of the day focused on movements and momentum. Four activists presented some of the progress and work to date, from revisiting Civil society’s 5 year Action Agenda for collaboration and change, to impressions from the 8th People’s Global Action on Migration, Human Rights and Development. The Swedish Minister for asylum and migration policy, Tobias Billstrom, delighted the delegates with his positive and encouraging speech and remarks. Billstrom stressed the importance of giving migrants an expert voice to speak on migration issues, and acknowledged migration and mobility as drivers for development. The Minister renewed his commitment to supporting the Global Forum on Migration and Development. The second panel of speakers looked at the post 2015 development agenda with a number of interesting presentations including one from the special advisor to the UN special Representative of the Secretary General for International Migration, Gregory Maniatis. A short film from Somalia introduced by Fatumo Farah, Director of Himilo Relief and Development Association, provided evidence of the role and impact of migrants and diaspora on development in practice and advocacy. Ignacio Packer of Terre des Hommes presented a civil society’s proposal for a blueprint with goals, targets and indicators on migration for the post 2015 and national development agendas. While Per-Olof Sjoo of the Building and Wood Workers International, defended passionately universal social protection and called for migrants to be at the heart of post 2015 development agenda. Sjoo also reminded the Forum that this work is about human rights and focus ad not only development. He stressed the importance of dialogue and communication between communities. He said that we need to confront citizens to give a human face to the immigrant. The speakers on this panel referred to migrants as the agents of the greatest development in the world and described migration as the most effective way of survival. A number of side events provided additional and specialist knowledge to the participating delegates in a number of related topics, including one on alternatives to immigration detention. The side events were followed by 3 workshops or break up sessions: 1- Shaping goals for labour mobility, labour rights; guaranteeing decent work and social protection for migrants 2- Shaping goals for the protection of migrants and their families; protecting and empowering migrants in distress, in transit, at borders and in detention 3- Shaping goals for the empowerment of migrants and communities for social inclusion and human development; Boosting migrants and diasporas’ contribution to job creation and development in countries of residence, origin and heritage. The final session of the day saw the launch of MADE (Migration and Development Civil Society Network). The day was concluded with a networking reception and a performance by members of a migrant family. This is the first time that Migrant Voice attends the Global Forum on Migration and Development event. The level of engagement, commitment and enthusiasm is very impressive as well as the level of participation and representation. This has been a very long and productive day, bringing the experiences of many parts of the world to Stockholm by activists committed to the following: the human being at the centre of migration; respect for his or her dignity and rights; decent work and social protection for migrant workers and their families; fair, orderly and regular migration as an alternative to abuse of migrants in transit and in the workplace; and the empowerment of migrants and diaspora as members and actors of societies in countries of destination and origin. My favourite quote for the day was a commitment to ensuring: “right to move to another country; right to stay at Home and right to return” Nazek Ramadan

 
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