More than 200 representatives of civil society from over 50 countries, as well as representatives from governments and international organizations, gathered in Bangladesh this week to deliberate on action needed for inclusion, protection and empowerment of migrants, and the governance of migration.
The Civil Society Days (CSDs) of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), entitled “Time for Action; Doing rights-based governance of migration and development in our communities and across borders”, took place on 8 and 9 December. On 10 December, the CSDs participants – leaders of civil society, migrant and diaspora groups, trade unions, and academia – joined ministers and senior government officials, together with representatives of international organizations and the private sector, for a day of “Common Space”, followed by two days of government deliberations on 11-12 December.
Civil Society’s Call for Action in Our Communities and Across Borders
During the Opening Ceremony of the Government Days, the 2016 Chair of the CSDs, long-term community-leader Colin Rajah of the People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights, presented civil society’s Call for Action with key recommendations from the CSDs. “We have looked at people-centered, needs-first, rights-based policies in migration and human development”, Mr. Rajah said, and how these “can be implemented in work civil society itself does, as well as together with governments, international organizations and increasingly the private sector”. The statement addressed issues such as:
- the protection and empowerment of migrant workers, and their labor rights;
- the needs and human rights of migrants who are on the move, and in transit;
- social inclusion and addressing structural inequalities including the role of local authorities;
- development investments by diaspora of all “skill” levels; and funding and finding ways to implement and monitor the migration-related targets on the UN 2030 Agenda;
- women and children in migration as advocates for rights and agents for change.
With the unprecedented UN High-level Summit last September, and the resulting New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants that launched the development of a Global Compact for “safe, orderly and regular” migration by 2018, much energy was also put, throughout the CSDs, into considering the development of this Compact. In particular, over and over civil society participant emphasized that this Global Compact needs to have “practical effects on the ground, improving the lives, opportunities, and respect for the human rights of all migrants.” Rajah and his co-chair of the GFMD CSDs 2016, Sicel’mpilo Shange-Buthane of Amnesty International, said it best when calling the Summit and the Compact the start of a “paradigm shift for all of us”. Civil society called for an inclusive multi-stakeholder process, building from the local level up. “Only with real engagement and partnership, rooted firmly in the principles of rights and justice”, Rajah said “can we reach a Compact that can bring real meaning, and change, to migrants’ lives”.
With the development of the Global Compact getting underway in a few weeks, and the next GFMD taking place in 6 months from now in Berlin, Rajah concluded “indeed the Time for Action is upon us.”