Despite the fine rain at times, typical of spring in Geneva, room XIX was crowded. Participants came from large and small countries, from the North and from the South, from international organizations specialized in the subject, from NGOs, alliances, networks and "partnerships" of "civil society". The Global Compact for safe, regular and orderly migration started with palpable expectations and expressed wishes that this time be everything would different and work.
A little history. Is something changing...?
The fact that the first thematic session was on the Human Rights of all emigrants, together with social inclusion, cohesion and the fight against all forms of discrimination, racism, xenophobia, and intolerance set the tone. It brought to mind that December 10, 1948 when the Declaration of Human Rights was signed in Paris, with three abstentions and no vote against. That Declaration marked a horizon, a common language, points of reference that the countries recognize. Or that other date of December 7, 1953, at the Slavery Convention. Will the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration have a similar historical value in terms of migration? Or will it all remain in words? The energy in the presentations, the plurality of the participations and the recurrence of some basic points may foretell that there is something new in a fundamental issue of our historical moment.
The attempt is preceded by success: the New York Declaration adopted on November 19, 2016, and this is part of a grand plan that will end in September 2018 when the agreement will come to light.
The process will have three parts: the one that started with this two-day meeting for consultation. It was clear that everyone has something to say. Therefore, these sessions focused on talking, listening and collecting. On the other hand, it became clear that the issue of migration reaches all: countries of origin, countries of transit, countries of destination. Facilitators spoke briefly. The three panelists of each session (morning or afternoon) had 7 minutes and the interventions of 3 minutes’ maximum. There were more than 40 interventions in the room. In some sessions, there were up to 48. There were always representatives who wanted to participate. Large countries: Canada, Brazil, China, USA ... and other smaller ones like Honduras, Ginea Bisau, Linchestain, all trying to say a lot in those 3 minutes.
What was new was the climate generated. Everything was accepted, there was no accusation, no negative element, perhaps the human density of the subject or so much talk about respect and understanding made respect to gradually slip into the words and gestures of the participants, thus creating a positive and hopeful climate. Not all the positions agreed. There were many differences and nuances, although many points repeated themselves and were the common great substratum of the agreement: "negative narrative does not lead anywhere," it only denigrates people but does not create anything positive, was said. "We must change the narrative" and try to start from a deep understanding of the human phenomenon; not judging or criminalizing. Of course, pressure or torture should not be used. It would be a great step to switch to a positive narrative.
Another element that was repeated in the interventions was the concern for unaccompanied minors and the answers that are now given. There is much evidence that in all cases, and especially for minors, detention is neither the only possible approach nor the best to solve the problem of unforeseen arrivals.
Another interesting topic to advance in relation to the Compact: Poverty that drives migration and needs attitudes toward the different. The inputs on this topic were a mixture of principles, desires and examples of good practices. But everything was said for improvement. We are not yet talking about implementation but the ethical discourse was more integrated; will it turn into actions?
What was evident in the meeting was the role that is recognized to civil society. There was a clear recognition that social organizations are those that "know" what happens, are involved, respond and interact for greater effectiveness, despite the always limited resources. Its voice was from the beginning required. Certainly, there is a long way to go, but its role is gaining relevance.
The European Union also seemed united and the countries concerned referred to their support for their representative's words. What was even more surprising was that the UK representative would align with the EU openly and supported the same stance.
This first phase of the process, which is for consultation, will last until November. It includes a period of regional consultations and a series of interactive audiences with different agents predominantly in New York, but also in Geneva.
The second phase will be one of assimilation, analysis and preparation of proposals. Finally, a third phase, negotiation with countries. It is expected to end in September 2018.
Information and participation
For activities, the UN has created an informative website: http://refugeesmigrants.org
As a member of the Economic and Social Committee in an advisory capacity, the team representing the Teresian Association (TA) was invited to participate. With the desire to ensure that participation is as open as possible, the following Action Plan has been drawn up:
- Collection of what has been done so far. Proposals recently developed and particularly a Seminar coordinated by the Council for Culture, InteRed, Castroverde Foundation, which took place Colegio Mayor Padre Poveda.
- July 4 at the international headquarters of the Teresian Association: Meeting of representatives of the TA at the United Nations: Suggestions are welcomed.
- Constitution of the Action Team for the Global Compact on Migration - Action Team
- On July 8-9 at the International TA Headquarters: meeting to prepare the follow-up, Academic Year 2017-18 on youth participation in International Organizations, UN and the Global Compact in CCMM and RRUU, EDIW, Intered, ACIT Youth, and other youth groups.
- July 10: meeting with representatives of the network of Universities and Research Centers on the Global Compact.
- July 18: meeting with organizations specializing in migration and advocacy. At international TA headquarters from 3 to 6 PM.
- July 19: meeting with people the TA Movement working on migration projects and are interested in participating. At the international TA headquarters from 3 to 6 pm.
- July 20-24: International Meeting of EDIW with young people, in C.M. Padre Poveda, Madrid. With the participation of organizations of the United Nations Team on the theme: Young people before the challenges of migration and participation in International Organizations.
- Presence in Geneva and New York in thematic meetings that will continue until October 2017 and where the voice of the TA will be heard on these issues.
Meetings in other geographic contexts will be announced.
TA Team. Presence at the UN
Some documents of interest: