Global Forum on Migration and Development in Berlin

From 28 June to 1 July the Global Forum on Migration and Development will take place in Berlin under the co-chairmanship of Germany. Representatives of UN member states consult and work on the drafting of a treaty that should be passed in 2018. At the same time, civil society organizations from all over the world organize meetings to communicate their demands. We, as AWO International, are also present: Karin Eder, the Regional Office Manager in Guatemala, as well as seven representatives of our partner organizations from Central America, Mexico and Asia will contribute to the GFMD with their expertise on the different regions.

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) was founded in 2006 by the initiative of former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan. Next to the High Level Dialogue on Migration of the United Nations (HLD), the GFMD is the only forum during which most nation states come together to discuss about migration and development. Aim of the GFMD is to facilitate and support the exchange and cooperation between states and other relevant agents, e.g. civil society, science and private economy. On an international level, participants work actively on migration policies and relevant processes. As a result, the GFMD has played a significant role for the integration of migration specific goals in the Agenda 2030.

The GFMD is no formal institution of the United Nations but a voluntary process led by its member states: executing decisions and resolutions are not obligatory for states. For 2017/18, Morocco and Germany took the chairmanship of the forum. The 10th GFMD takes place from 28 June to 1 July in Berlin. One of its main objectives is the drafting of the “Global Compact on Migration”: This (non-binding) agreement is planned to be passed in 2018 by the UN.

Global civil society accompanies the process

Since many years civil society organizations from all over the world follow and accompany the GFMD process so that fixed structures have arisen besides the yearly GFMD meeting. One central forum accompanying the GFMD are the Civil Society Days (CSD) which take place shortly before or during the GFMD. At the CSD, delegates of development and human rights organizations, migrant networks and representatives from science and economy come together to share their experiences, to create networks and to address demands and recommendations to governments. Since 2010 a one-day meeting between civil society and government representatives – called Common Space – exists. The Civil Society Days have become an essential part of the GFMD process. Over time, other civil society forums have been established as well, like the People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights (PGA) and the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR).

Our commitment to safe migration and fighting human trafficking

The issue of migration is an important key area in the project work of AWO International.Together with our partner organizations from Asia and Central America and Mexico, we implement projects which focus on safe migration and the protection from human trafficking as the lines between migration and human trafficking are seldom clear-cut. Since many years our partners are active in regional migrant networks. For this year’s GFMD in Berlin, AWO International will be represented by Karin Eder, the Regional Office Manager of Guatemala, and seven participants of our partner organizations to share their expertise and formulate demands: “I expect that we – the Latin American civil society – will be heard at the forum. The international member states have to realize that there are diverse reasons for migration. In Central America, existing violence is a significant factor for people to leave their country. Furthermore, I hope that the participation of civil society will also be institutionalized on a regional level as it is the case during the Global Forum”, says Edgardo Chevez, director of our partner organization OCDIH in Honduras. Saiful Haque from our partner organization WARBE in Bangladesh names concrete demands to the GFMD: “We expect that all member states ratify the Migrant Worker UN Convention 1990 [Note: Germany has not ratified the convention as well]. In our region the Kafala system plays a fatal role. Migrant workers enter a cycle of modern slavery and are literally without rights. We demand the abolishment of the Kafala system.” Both spokespersons will participate in the Civil Society Days. Additionally, representatives of ECAP and ACCSS in Guatemala, IMUMI in Mexico and NEEDS as well as POURAKHI in Nepal will participate in the Civil Society Days. "I hope that the GFMD promotes the honest dialogue between civil society actors and governments, migrants and their families, with greater involvement of the Global South. We also need a reorientation of migration policy, which is characterized by inclusion", says Berenice Valdez Rivera from IMUMI and co-chair of the civil society days.

Demands of the civil society: Create migration that is rights-based and development-oriented!

So far, civil society in Germany has not been systematically accompanying the GFMD process. VENRO, the umbrella organization of humanitarian and development non-governmental organizations in Germany, started a project that supports the creation of a civil society network and the reconciliation of its demands. The paper “Demands of German Civil Society To the Federal Government” was developed out of the project’s long consultation process. In this paper, the organizations appreciate the commitment of the government and emphasize issues that have to be addressed.

The core demands are:

-          A migration policy that is based on human rights 

-          The ratification of existing conventions for the protection of migrants

-          An improvement of the protection of undocumented migrants‘ rights

-          The extension of possibilities for regular migration

-          Advocacy for a development-oriented and positive understanding of migration

-          No instrumentalization of development cooperation

From 28 June to 1 July the Global Forum on Migration and Development takes place in Berlin under the co-chairmanship of Germany.

Staff of our partner organization POURAKHI informs about safe migration and human trafficking at the central bus park of Kathmandu, Nepal. (Foto: AWO International)

Counseling and awareness raising: Our partner organization WARBE informs potential migrants, returnees and family members. (Foto: AWO International)

Alliance of solidarity: Our partner organization OCDIH (Honduras) informs migrants about their rights and provides protection on the migration routes in cooperation with the Guatemalan organization ACOMUMSAM (Guatemala). (Foto: AWO International)