By Abdel Rahmane DIOP
Associate Migration Officer, Office of the Director General, Global Compact for Migration, Geneva Team, International Organization for Migration
It is a great honour and pleasure to be able to address you here today at the Africa Link Annual Symposium.
Today’s meeting is both timely and critical. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration presents us with a truly historic opportunity to fill an important gap and define the global migration policy agenda and landscape for decades to come.
I would like to make three main points: migration as a mega-trend of our century, especially in Africa, an overview of the GCM, and the next steps from now to the GCM adoption and further.
The first is to underscore that we live in a world on the move – migration is a mega-trend of our century. There are more people migrating today than at any time in recorded history.
Migration is a national, regional and global issue. But most of all, it is an issue about people. It is made of individual intentions encouraged by global trends. It is nourished by ambitious dreams and often subjected to exploitation and abuses.
We know that over the next 30 years there will be 800 million new job-seekers in sub-Saharan Africa alone. This is very good news, because it means the child mortality rate will have lowered. But many of these 800 million will inevitably move – either within the continent or beyond. A concerted effort will need to be made to further develop partnerships and mechanisms for labour mobility.
With migrant labour comes remittances – billions of dollars of remittances came into Africa last year – over USD 40 billion to both Nigeria and Egypt alone. At the same time, Africa has, on average, the highest cost of sending remittances – at 9.08% it is well above the SDG target of 3%.
Protracted conflicts and instability have generated more displacement than in any other region, with neighbouring countries generously supporting some of the largest refugee populations in the world. This responsibility should not fall on a region alone. A cornerstone of the New York Declaration, and a key principle for the Global Compact, is the principle of shared responsibility by all countries of the world.
South-South migration flows – especially migration within Africa – continue to grow and are significantly more important on the continent than South-North mobility. According to the available data, more than 50% of Africans move within the continent.
It is worth noticing that a small, but growing number of migrants are coming to Africa from other regions – primarily from Asia, Europe and North America.
At the same time, the region continues to respond to large numbers of people departing and transiting towards Europe.
And not least, active engagement with large and dynamic diasporas, the sixth regional bloc, provides lessons for further enhancing the positive development impacts of migration for both origin and host communities.
The Global Compact can respond to each of these priorities, and can help pursue relevant partnerships needed for the response.
The second point is to provide general comments on the final text of the GCM, especially from a diaspora perspective
The finalisation of the Global Compact last July is a historic and remarkable achievement - historic because it is the first comprehensive agreement on migration developed through inter-governmental negotiations in the United Nations, and remarkable that this was achieved at a time when the narrative around migration is so politically charged.
The Global Compact recognizes that managing international migration is a shared responsibility of all countries, not just those countries to which people are migrating.
It presents an opportunity to improve the governance on international migration and to address the benefits and challenges associated with today’s migration. It can help to draw out the benefits of migration and to migrate the risks. And it can be a resource in finding the right balance between the rights of individuals and the sovereignty of states.
The Global Compact comprises comprises 23 objectives and their associated commitments and actions, which provide a 360-degree approach to help achieve safe, orderly and regular migration – to work towards a world where migration becomes a genuine choice, not a necessity.
To achieve this requires the commitment of the whole of society.
There are people in this room who are migrants themselves, or members of diaspora communities whose parents and grandparents may have been migrants, who maintain personal links with the countries their families came from, and who can personally testify to their own contributions.
The final draft of the GCM acknowledges diaspora as important stakeholders who should be included in multi-stakeholder partnerships along with civil society to address migration in all its dimensions. The enormous contributions that migrants and diaspora communities make to development (transfer of knowledge and skills, financial contributions through trade, entrepreneurship and investment, philanthropists and the humanitarian roles they play during crises) are recognized in the GCM.
Among its other objectives, the Global Compact aspires to create the right conditions that will enable diaspora to contribute to sustainable development. Included here is the importance of promoting social cohesion and full inclusion in the societies where they reside, with a call to actively include diaspora organizations in local policies and programmes.
So what does the Global Compact suggest are the “right conditions”? (Obj.19 of final text)
Research and data that documents the non-financial contributions of migrants and Diasporas to development - both in their countries of origin and residence. This is important to balance the current focus on remittances and financial contributions; (c)
The creation of diaspora offices and structures within governments, advisory boards and mechanisms to facilitate diaspora engagement; (d)
The necessity for “accessible information and guidance, including through digital platforms, as well as tailored mechanisms for the coordinated and effective financial, voluntary or philanthropic engagement of migrants and diasporas” (f).
An important observation would be related to the fact that diaspora communities have a lot to learn from and share with each other. Investments need to be made by governments and international agencies like ours in creating forums for diaspora communities to come together, to share ideas, and to pool resources. Last year, IOM launched the Diaspora platform to provide a unified hub and platform for diaspora communities. IOM looks forward to working with you to engage together in the development and use of this platform.
The third and last point is related to the next steps towards the adoption of the GCM and beyond
IOM warmly welcomes the finalization of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and commends the Permanent Representatives of Mexico and Switzerland to the UN in New York for so ably leading the Global Compact process to a successful conclusion, and the Office of the Special Representative to the Secretary General for International Migration for its leadership.
The Global Compact does not encourage migration, nor does it aim to stop it. It does not impose ideas on others. It fully respects the sovereignty of states, and it is not a legally binding document.
The final text reflects an admirably aspirational approach—to not be limited by the status quo, but rather envisage what migration policy and practice could evolve to in the decades ahead.
The Global Compact provides a blueprint for how states can best manage migration and cooperate more effectively with one another. It also gives states the space and flexibility to do so on the basis of their own migration realities and capacities.
The momentum that led to the finalisation of the Global Compact in July 2018 was impressive, and this momentum must be maintained.
Formal adoption of the GCM will take place at the
Intergovernmental Conference on International Migration to be held in Marrakesh 10-11 December 2018.
Although formal adoption of the Global Compact will not take place until December, IOM encourages governments and other stakeholders to start preparing now for its implementation.
Governments and all stakeholders should be encouraged to come to Marrakesh with concrete ideas, examples of good practices as well as pledges and commitments for the way forward.
Implementation will require concerted and cooperative action not only by governments but also, in an inclusive spirit of partnership, by the many non-governmental actors who have an essential role to play in good migration governance, including civil society, cities and municipalities, the private sector, unions, migrant and diaspora organizations, academia and migrants themselves, amongst others.
The UN system will support the implementation of the Global Compact through a new UN Network on Migration which IOM will coordinate and serve as its secretariat.
IOM stands ready to support implementation of the Global Compact in this spirit of partnership and cooperation at national, regional and global levels.