Sunday, 20 January 2019

Migrating out of Poverty at the 11th Global Forum on Migration and Development – the discourse and the way forward

By Emmanuel Quarshie,

Amidst the tremendous globalization, cultural harmonization and modernization the world is experiencing, human mobility is one of the main issues under discussion within policy and research circles. Migration is not a new phenomenon, but migration is now marked by different trends and patterns.

The world tends to be more globalized through technology, ideas, skills, knowledge and information sharing. As a result, the number of global migrants has increased. It is therefore imperative for nations to ensure that the human rights of every migrant are safeguarded and protected. Migrants contribute significantly to the development of both their host and home countries through skills transfer, and remittances among other key benefits.

Despite their significant contribution to development, circulating narratives portray migrants as threats to security and they experience high rates of xenophobia.

In order to touch base with these issues, several dialogues and conferences at national and international levels have been held to ensure proper, holistic and sustainable migration governance and management to reduce the cost of migration and maximize the benefits. Notable among them is the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) which has been ongoing for the past decade.

The recent GFMD took place in Morocco which brought together civil society groups, government delegates, academics and researchers. The core aim was to develop positions on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10.7 which seeks to achieve a safe, orderly and regular migration by 2030 and to reduce the cost of remittance transfer to 3% by 2030.

The Forum also aimed to reach agreement on the Global Compact on Migration which serves as the most recognized, but nonetheless non-binding, document that will (re)direct migration narratives in achieving these targets.

Questions raised by the Forum included: How do we fuse sustainable migration management and the developmental impact of migration together in order to achieve a win-win strategic policy for all? Is the call to global dialogue on migration a mere rhetoric or an action-based move? What next after signing the Global Compact? How does the compact resolve the issue of climate-change induced migrants? How comprehensive will this be to cover all categories of migrants? How do we ensure migrant rights?

The Global Compact cannot function to its maximum if the big issues - internal and intra-regional migration are overlooked. This is because almost every international migration is preceded by internal migration due to the step-wise nature of migration, most especially in developing countries like Ghana. The compact should be able to address issues of internal and intra-regional migration since it serves as the main policy document guiding migration and human mobility at all levels.
Though the Global Compact is a very broad framework which serves as a reference to all state and non-state actors in migration country-specific policies related to internal and regional realities on migration are needed to firm-up plans, address inconsistencies, leverage and produce a very universal and comprehensive strategy to serve as a guide to holistically manage global migration.

Having a Global Compact is very important, but its implementation will be critical. Some countries have witnessed how poorly good policies are being implemented largely due to the lack of political will. The question now is, how do we intermesh the views of civil society organizations, academics, researchers and governments to implement the Global Compact? We don’t want to restate, backslide nor undercut existing policies on migration but instead to expand, ratify and implement them in order to achieve a safe, orderly and regular migration for all.

How does the Global Compact foster the protection of human rights of these individual migrants and their families? This question can serve as a focal point for the Global Compact since this represents the broader picture when issues about human right abuse, violence and xenophobia are discussed.

To conclude, it is noteworthy that in order to achieve a triple win in migration among the host, sending countries, and migrants and their families, there is a need for a comprehensive Global Compact with a coherent and consistent approach which protects the rights of migrants and their family as well as supporting the management of remittances sent back home.

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