Saturday, December 06, 2008

December 18. International Migrant Workers Day. No. 553.

December 18. International Migrant Workers Day.

International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Click here for pdf.

10 points to the Global Forum on Migration and Development.October 2008.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations sixty years ago. Its Article 1 affirms that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Further it stipulates that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as (…) national or social origin (…)”. Nations around the world have agreed to submit themselves to an international legal framework and to be bound by the obligations it creates.

Since 1948, the international human rights framework has developed to include a number of international Conventions and Declarations detailing States’ obligations towards the persons on their territory, and towards the individuals and peoples in general. Over the last 60 years, States confirmed on several occasions their commitment to this universal human rights regime. They have done so at the different UN Conferences that took place between 1993 and 2001 and by adhering to international treaties.

Migration is definitely an issue with an international dimension: it concerns all States in the world, is international by nature, and is nowadays an issue that is at the forefront of the political agenda in most parts of the world. It has become increasingly prominent on the international agenda and States have come to agree that this issue should be discussed internationally. The United Nations tried to create an opportunity within the UN system for this discussion to take place. In September 2006, the General Assembly of the UN held a High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development. The organization of a Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) is the direct outcome of this Dialogue.

The GFMD, however, is a voluntary, inter-governmental, non-binding and informal consultative process opened to all UN Member States and Observers. This reflects the reluctance of many States to approach migration from an angle that incorporates the core values and principles of the UN, in particular universal human rights. Indeed, as the first Global Forum in Brussels showed last year, the discussions on cooperation among States focus on the economic nature of migration, i.e. on the utilitarian management of migration flows in function of economic needs and opportunities.

December 18 puts forward a set of 10 points to improve the Global Forum on Migration and Development. We believe that these recommendations are the minimum requirements for the GFMD to gain legitimacy and truly address the various dimensions of the international migration processes.

10 points for the Global Forum on Migration and development
1. The GFMD must give priority to the centrality of a rights-based approach to international migration. The humanity and dignity of the 200 million migrants in the world must be the primary concern of all States’ delegations and other actors.
2. The GFMD must go beyond the limited and non-sustainable utilitarian approach to migration and must elaborate a long-term work plan in which all aspects of migration can be addressed.
3. The GFMD must prioritize the universal ratification of the UN Migrant Workers Convention and ILO Conventions 97 and 143.
4. The global debate on migration, development and human rights should be returned to the United Nations, where it started. This will ensure that the UN normative framework of international human rights conventions and agreements is systematically incorporated into the evolving global migration policies.
5. The GFMD must give an opportunity for migrants to be heard. The Forum should include a range of open hearings and accept a large number of migrant delegates.
6. The GFMD must create a space for Governments, civil society actors and migrants themselves to exchange and interact. The current division of the Forum does not provide enough opportunities. Civil society organizations and migrants should participate in the Governments meetings.
7. The GFMD must understand the notion of development in a way that does not negate the humanity and dignity of migrants and their families. Development is also “an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.” The on-going reflexion on the notion of “development” from a rights-based point of view should be incorporated into the discussions.
8. Circular migration is an open door to the violations of the fundamental human rights of migrants; circular migration equals merchandisation of migrants. Instead, States should opt for more flexible visa policies and adopt legal tools that guarantee the rights of migrants.
9. Remittances are private money. Discussions about remittances should not be limited to the micro-finance opportunities they create or could create. As a priority, every effort should be made by States to put in place cheaper remittance services.
10. The GFMD should promote International Migrants Day, an annual event on the 18th of December.

Marie d’Auchamp and Hedia Benouataf
December 18 – Geneva office

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