Migrants Rights International

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

THE UNHLD & PARALLEL EVENTS



Community Dialogue on
Migration, Development & Human Rights

Center for Labor, Community and Policy Studies, CUNY
25 W. 43rd Street (between 5th & 6th Ave.)

13-15 September 2006, New York




PROGRAM OVERVIEW & OBJECTIVES

Overview

The United Nations High Level Dialogue (UNHLD) on Migration and Development will take place on September 14 and 15, 2006 in New York at the UN headquarters. Migrant Rights International (MRI) will convene organizations promoting the rights of migrants from the global regions to raise awareness on the UNHLD process, highlight key migration issues from a community perspective, and strategize collectively on how to achieve international recognition and enforcement of migrants’ human rights. Through organized parallel activities outside of the UN, and MRI’s presence inside the governmental meeting, MRI will generate a clear migrant civil society response to the HLD process, emphasizing particularly its implications to migration and human rights. The momentum generated by this convergence will also help to strengthen alliances among migrants’ associations and NGOs from across the world.

The stated purpose of the UNHLD is to discuss the multidimensional aspects of international migration and development in order to “identify appropriate ways and means to maximize its development benefits and minimize its negative impacts,” and to achieve internationally agreed-upon development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

It is MRI’s position, however, that the UNHLD process thus far has severely restricted the participation of the migrant voice and appears to promote an economic justification of international migration at the expense of migrants’ human rights. This is apparent from the preparatory report on the UNHLD released by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in June 2006, in which he, “stresses that international migration constitutes an ideal means of promoting co-development, that is, the coordinated or concerted improvement of economic conditions in both areas of origin and areas of destination based on the complementarities between them.” The summary also makes no mention of the necessary involvement of migrants and their advocates in its suggestion of the creation of a “permanent forum” on issues of migration and development as an outcome of the HLD.

Recognizing that the UNHLD will potentially set into place a critical infrastructure for ongoing governmental deliberations on migration policy, MRI has been working inside the HLD process to promote human rights as the dominant framework of the HLD’s “co-development” strategy. MRI has been present at the preparatory meetings for the HLD, including the July Interactive NGO Dialogue. In September, MRI will serve as one of the eight selected civil society representatives participating in the roundtable sessions, and it will strategize with these representatives on interventions inside. Parallel events with UN agencies and allied governments inside the UN may also be co-organized by MRI, depending on whether these events are approved. MRI is also preparing with its partners to lobby governments in anticipation of the event.

MRI believes that organizations promoting the rights of migrants, especially representatives of migrant communities themselves, should be provided with an alternative forum to understand the intended goals of the HLD, to monitor the course of the deliberations, and to provide their perspectives and inputs. Towards these goals, MRI will organize parallel activities—an International Migrants’ Rights Tribunal, a Community Dialogue on Migration and Development, a rally, and a media briefing—targeting local and international organizations promoting the rights of migrants, including organizations of migrants and their families.

Program Objectives

1. To advocate in the UNHLD and with UN member states the perspectives of migrants and migrant civil society organizations through MRI participation inside the governmental meeting, monitor the course of deliberations inside the HLD, assess outcomes, and identify critical tasks to play in relation to these outcomes.
2. To collectively inform and co-educate participating migrants’ rights organizations about the UNHLD and its intended goals, and build understanding, visioning and strategizing about policy implications for global migration and human rights;
3. To highlight key migration issues from a community perspective, strategize collectively on how to achieve international recognition and enforcement of migrants’ human rights, and develop and adopt a unity statement that will be submitted to the HLD.
4. To strengthen alliances among organizations promoting the rights of migrants and migrants’ groups from across the world through collective understanding, visioning and strategizing on how to converge the advocacies and struggles of migrants’ movements from the different global regions.
5. To use the opportunity provided by this international convergence of organizations to discuss and plan MRI’s organizational development, including issues of MRI’s structure and governance.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Summary of the Informal Internative Hearings ! ! !

The summary of the informal interactive hearings of the General Assembly with representatives of non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector - Note by the President of the General Assembly, Please find the link to the English document below:

English PDF file


There will be a link made to it from the NGLS website as well as from the unmigration.org website (in the Mandated Inputs section of the HLD page, as well as a top of the bill link in the Hearings page). The link should be up sometime soon.

The other language versions are available at:
the French version:
http://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/447/87/pdf/N0644787.pdf?OpenElement
the Spanish version:
http://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/447/89/pdf/N0644789.pdf?OpenElement
the Russian version:
http://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/447/88/pdf/N0644788.pdf?OpenElement
the Arabic version:
http://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/447/84/pdf/N0644784.pdf?OpenElement
the Chinese version:
http://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/447/85/pdf/N0644785.pdf?OpenElement

Please check the MFA website: www.mfasia.org , or the mri website: www.migrantsrightsinternational.blogspot.com for updates on the HLD.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Organization of the High-level Dialogue on


Sixtieth session
Agenda item 54 (c)
Globalization and interdependence: international
migration and development
Organization of the High-level Dialogue on
International Migration and Development
United Nations Headquarters, 14 and 15 September 2006
Note by the Secretary-General


I. Introduction
1. The General Assembly, in its resolution 58/208 of 23 December 2003, decided
to devote a high-level dialogue to international migration and development in 2006
during its sixty-first session, in accordance with the rules and procedures of the
Assembly, with modalities to be decided upon. In the same resolution it requested
the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its sixtieth session on the
organizational details of the High-level Dialogue. This request was reconfirmed by
the Assembly in its resolution 59/241 of 22 December 2004.
2. At its sixtieth session, the General Assembly, in its resolution 60/227 of
23 December 2005, decided to convene the High-level Dialogue on International
Migration and Development in New York on 14 and 15 September 2006 to discuss
the overall theme of the multidimensional aspects of international migration and
development in order to identify appropriate ways and means to maximize its
development benefits and minimize its negative impacts.
3. In the same resolution the General Assembly decided that the High-level
Dialogue would consist of four plenary meetings and four interactive round tables,
within existing resources. It further decided on the organization and themes for the
four round tables.
4. Recognizing the importance of the contribution of civil society in the
preparatory process of the High-level Dialogue, the General Assembly decided to
hold, within existing resources, one-day informal interactive hearings with
representatives of non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and
the private sector.
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A/60/864
5. The General Assembly invited the President of the General Assembly, within
existing resources, in consultation with Member States, and with the assistance of
the Secretariat, to organize prior to the High-level Dialogue up to two panel
discussions with a focus on its overall theme.
6. The General Assembly also invited relevant United Nations agencies, funds
and programmes, as well as the International Organization for Migration, to
contribute to the preparation of the High-level Dialogue.
7. The General Assembly further invited the regional commissions to contribute
to and coordinate dialogue at the regional level in preparation for the High-level
Dialogue, and also invited appropriate regional consultative processes and other
major initiatives undertaken by Member States in the field of international migration
to contribute to the High-level Dialogue.
8. The General Assembly reiterated that the outcome of the High-level Dialogue
would be a Chairperson’s summary, which would be widely distributed to Member
States, observers, United Nations agencies and other appropriate organizations.
9. In addition, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to prepare
a note on the organization of work of the High-level Dialogue. The present note is in
response to that request.
II. Organizational arrangements
A. Plenary meetings
10. The High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development will
consist of four plenary meetings, as follows:
Thursday, 14 September 2006, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to
6 p.m.
Friday, 15 September 2006, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
11. Introductory statements will be made by the President of the General
Assembly, the President of the Economic and Social Council and the
Secretary-General at the opening of the plenary meeting on Thursday morning,
14 September.
12. The High-level Dialogue will be open to the participation of Member States,
which are invited to participate at the ministerial or highest level possible; the Holy
See, in its capacity as Observer State, and Palestine, in its capacity as observer, the
International Organization for Migration, as well as other intergovernmental entities
and organizations having received a standing invitation to participate as observers in
the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and the relevant United Nations
agencies, funds and programmes. Participation will be in accordance with the rules
of procedure of the General Assembly.
13. In order to accommodate all the speakers, statements will be limited to four
minutes, on the understanding that that would not preclude the distribution of more
extensive texts.
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A/60/864
14. Summaries of the deliberations of the four round tables will be presented
orally by the chairpersons of the round tables at the concluding plenary meeting of
the High-level Dialogue (see also para. 24).
B. Interactive round tables
15. The High-level Dialogue will hold four interactive round tables, as follows:
Thursday, 14 September 2006, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Round table 1: Effects of international migration on economic and
social development.
Round table 2: Measures to ensure respect for and protection of the
human rights of all migrants, and to prevent and combat
smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons.
Friday, 15 September 2006, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Round table 3: Multidimensional aspects of international migration and
development, including remittances.
Round table 4: Promoting the building of partnerships and capacitybuilding
and the sharing of best practices at all levels,
including the bilateral and regional levels, for the benefit
of countries and migrants alike.
16. The four round tables will have 40 to 48 seats each for heads of delegation and
other participants in the round tables. Each head of delegation attending a round
table may be accompanied by one adviser.
17. All other participants in the High-level Dialogue will be able to follow the
proceedings of the round tables via a closed-circuit television in the overflow
rooms.
18. The chairpersons of the four round tables shall be Ministers from the African
States, the Eastern European States, the Latin American and Caribbean States, and
the Western European and other States. Those four chairpersons shall be selected by
their respective regional groups in consultation with the President of the General
Assembly.
19. The composition of the four round tables will be subject to the principle of
equitable geographical distribution. Thus, for each regional group, the distribution
of its members for participation in each round table shall be made in the following
manner:
(a) African States: 11 Member States;
(b) Asian States: 11 Member States;
(c) Eastern European States: five Member States;
(d) Latin American and Caribbean States: seven Member States;
(e) Western European and other States: six Member States.
20. Each delegation will be requested to indicate its preference for one of the
round tables to the chairperson of its respective regional group. Space permitting,
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delegations may be able to attend more than one round table. The chairpersons of
each regional group shall communicate to the President of the General Assembly
which of its members wishes to participate in each round table, ensuring that
equitable geographical distribution is maintained and allowing for some flexibility.
Member States are encouraged to be represented at the round tables at the highest
possible level.
21. A Member State that is not a member of any of the regional groups may
participate in a round table to be determined in consultation with the President of
the General Assembly. The Holy See, in its capacity as Observer State, and
Palestine, in its capacity as observer, the International Organization for Migration,
as well as other intergovernmental entities and organizations having received a
standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the
General Assembly may each participate in a round table to be determined in
consultation with the President of the General Assembly.
22. Each round table may accommodate up to four heads of entities of the United
Nations system, determined in consultation with the President of the General
Assembly.
23. Pursuant to resolution 60/227, representatives of non-governmental
organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, civil
society organizations and the private sector, one from each grouping having been
selected during the informal interactive hearings, may also participate in each of the
round tables of the High-level Dialogue. The President of the General Assembly
will determine the list of such representatives, taking into account the principle of
equitable geographical representation, in consultation with Member States (see also
para. 36).
24. Summaries of the deliberations of the four round tables will be presented
orally by the chairpersons of the round tables at the concluding plenary meeting of
the High-level Dialogue (see also para. 14).
25. The round tables will be closed to the media and the general public.
C. Panel discussions
26. The panel discussions will take place as follows:
Panel discussion 1: Thursday, 8 June 2006, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
in New York
Panel discussion 2: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
in Geneva
27. The panellists will be selected by the President of the General Assembly. They
may include heads of relevant United Nations agencies, funds, programmes and
regional commissions, as well as the International Organization for Migration.
28. The panel discussions will be open to the participation of Member States, the
Holy See, in its capacity as Observer State, Palestine, in its capacity as observer, and
other intergovernmental entities and organizations having received a standing
invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the
General Assembly.
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A/60/864
29. Representatives of non-governmental organizations in consultative status with
the Economic and Social Council, civil society organizations and the private sector
may also attend the panel discussions.
D. Informal interactive hearings
30. The one-day informal interactive hearings with representatives of
non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector
will be held on Wednesday, 12 July 2006, and will be presided over by the President
of the General Assembly.
31. The hearings will consist of two meetings. Each meeting will comprise two
sequential segments and will consist of brief presentations by invited participants
from non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and the private
sector.
32. Following the presentations, there will be an interactive discussion with
alternate interventions from Member States and invited participants from
non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector.
Those intervening will be requested to identify themselves prior to their intervention
and will be allowed a maximum of two minutes each to speak.
33. The meetings shall take place as follows:
Wednesday, 12 July 2006, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Segment 1: Promoting a comprehensive rights-based approach to
international migration, and ensuring respect for and
protection of the human rights of all migrants and their
families.
Segment 2: International migration and development — challenges
for social and economic policies in sending and
receiving countries.
Wednesday, 12 July 2006, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Segment 3: International migration and development — challenges
for social and economic policies in sending and
receiving countries (continued).
Segment 4: Policy responses — promoting the building of
partnerships and capacity-building and the sharing of
best practices at all levels, including the bilateral and
regional levels, for the benefit of countries and migrants
alike.
34. The hearings will be open to the participation of accredited representatives of
non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, the private sector,
Member States and observers of the General Assembly.
35. The President of the General Assembly will determine the list of invited
participants and the exact format and organization of the hearings, in consultation
with Member States and representatives of non-governmental organizations in
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A/60/864
consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, civil society
organizations and the private sector.
36. Pursuant to resolution 60/227, representatives of non-governmental
organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, civil
society organizations and the private sector, one from each grouping having been
selected during the informal interactive hearings, may also participate in each of the
round tables of the High-level Dialogue. The President of the General Assembly
will determine the list of such representatives, taking into account the principle of
equitable geographical representation, in consultation with Member States (see also
para. 23).
37. A summary of the hearings will be prepared by the President of the
General Assembly prior to the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and
Development.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Oral Statement on Segment 2 Presented at the Informal Interactive Hearings

Challenges for Social and Economic Policies in Sending & Receiving Countries:
Empowering Migrants and Ensuring Rights-Based, People-Centered Development

Oral Statement on Segment 2 Presented at the Informal Interactive Hearings
on International Migration and Development
12 July 2006, New York

Asian Migrant Centre (AMC) and Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA)

Distinguished delegates and guests:

I make this statement on behalf of the Asian Migrant Centre (AMC), an Asian regional research and training NGO promoting the human rights and empowerment of Asian migrant workers and their families. I am also speaking on behalf of the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), the biggest migrants’ rights advocacy network in Asia representing over 260 migrant organizations, unions and civil society groups in Asia.

Migrants as Primary Stakeholders in Development

Responding to the abuses, violations of human rights, discrimination, and the intersecting racial, class and gender vulnerabilities of migrants, we were among the pioneers since the 1980s, and we continue to be at the forefront, of campaigns for protection of migrants’ rights. We are part of the international advocacy, since the 1990s, for the universal ratification of the U.N. Migrant Workers Convention, and the adoption and effective implementation of the core human rights standards of the UN and ILO.

Recognising that migrants are not all helpless victims, but are – more importantly – women, workers, and human beings who have multiple capacities, skills, strengths and the will to overcome the dangers and difficulties of overseas work, we pioneered since the late 1980s, the unionization and self-organisation of migrants, especially women; community organizing in the home and host communities; and the advocacy for the representation and participation of migrants in policy-making in the host and home countries.

Emphasizing that “migrants” is not a homogeneous population, we highlight the need to ensure particular measures to ensure participation of the various categories of migrants – migrant workers, families of migrants, women migrants, youth migrants, undocumented migrants, indigenous peoples migrating overseas, as well as refugees displaced by conflicts or development/ecological disasters.

Asserting the enormous economic power and potential of migrants, we started the advocacy in Asia in the 1990s, on migration and development and the strategic role of migrants in the development process. Therefore, we initiated the “migrant savings and alternative investments” (MSAI) strategy to emphasize that migrants and their families are primary stakeholders in any people-centered, rights-based, gender-fair and social justice-oriented development process. Their “modern day heroism” is not simply because they remit billions of dollars back home; it is because migrants can help shape and propel the development process, by utilizing their social and economic assets in order to address poverty, development problems, and the root causes that compelled millions of migrants to work abroad.

“Migrant Savings & Alternative Investments” (MSAI) and other Civil Society Strategies on Development

The MSAI strategy promotes the central role of migrants and their families by: (a) helping migrants economically prepare for their eventual return/reintegration to their home countries (the bulk of migrants in Asia are denied residency rights in the host countries being temporary, contract-based, or undocumented workers); and (b) helping mobilize and build migrants’ assets – their organizations, skills, networks, knowledge, savings, remittances – for social entrepreneurship, productive investments, and community and national development. Such development-oriented investments are guided by the principles of economic sustainability, gender-fairness, social justice, ecological sustainability, and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of migrants.

The MSAI strategy further asserts that the central responsibility in providing enabling policy and operational conditions to promote social and economic development is the government’s. People-centered development is also necessarily multi-stakeholder, thus the importance of intermediary (support) role of the private sector. Relevant UN or intergovernmental bodies in Asia, e.g. ILO, UNIFEM, UNDP, have been supporting the building up of this strategy.

Recently, the migrant community has firmed up links with the decades-long cooperatives, rural development, microfinance and microenterprise movements in Asia. We are trying to build upon our mutual strengths and expertise so that migrants’ savings, remittance and economic resources are best used for rural and community development.

Additionally, various diaspora philanthropy strategies, including the “3-for-1” strategy pioneered by Mexican migrants and immigrants, are also being built up and promoted in order to contribute to social development. Therefore, the migrant, diaspora and civil society sectors have ongoing, vibrant efforts in helping build sustainable and people-oriented development.

The Challenge: Realizing People-Centered Development and The Right to Development

However, the main challenges and difficulties they are facing, both in the host and home countries, are: (a) the lack or absence of enabling policies and operational conditions to sustain and scale up development efforts;
(b) the marginalization and exclusion of migrants from policy and decision-making, especially in national economic development planning;
(c) restrictive, repressive or discriminatory policies in the host countries that deny or severely limit migrants’ rights/capacity especially in terms of organizing, accessing the banking and financial systems, and undertaking economic and entrepreneurial activities; and,
(d) the lack of comprehensive, people-centered and rights-based development frameworks or policies at the national and international levels.

The absence, at the international level, of a binding international convention or instrument on rights-based, people-centered development is a critical gap that prevents the flowering of migrants’ efforts on social development. Substantive, multi-stakeholder, cross-country development collaboration among migrants, civil society and governments is difficult to pursue without a common guiding framework which spells the rights and accountabilities of the various stakeholders. Supportive and enabling national policies are hard to discuss and formulate in the absence of international standards on the right to development.

The UN has a long-standing “Declaration on the Right to Development” – adopted by the General Assembly in 1986, and subsequently reaffirmed in the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the 2000 Millennium Declaration, and the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. These declarations affirm the ‘Right to Development’ as a universal and inalienable human right, with the following basic components:

a) comprehensive concept of development – defines development as comprehensive and multi-faceted with social, cultural, political and economic elements;
b) people-centered – places the human person at the centre of development;
c) respect for all human rights – development process should respect all basic human rights; failure to observe these rights constitute an obstacle to development;
d) participation – requires that States and the international community formulate appropriate development policies in a participative manner, and ensure participation of women;
e) social justice – the development process should promote social justice, equality of opportunity for all, access to basic resources and services, and the eradication of social injustices;
f) international cooperation – development requires not only appropriate national policies, but also proper international policies and cooperation.
g) self-determination – affirms the right of peoples to self-determination.

We therefore call on all governments to adhere and commit to the 1986 Declaration and subsequent affirmations, as a common framework to guide migration and development efforts.

We note with regret that the Report by the Secretary General on migration and development emphasizes “co-development” that highlights the flow of migrants and remittances, but does make any reference to the Right to Development Declaration, and hardly references the Migrant Workers Convention and the core UN and ILO human rights frameworks as a basis for development. We urge the Secretary-General to reiterate the rights-based approach, the core human rights principles and instruments, and the Right to Development declaration as overarching principles guiding the migration and development agenda.

We also note the overemphasis on remittances as a beneficial facet of international migration. We reiterate that remittance does not necessarily imply or lead to people-centered development. Indeed, divorced from a rights-based and the right to development framework, the singular agenda of ‘maximising remittances’ can result to acceleration in the mass export of labour, the primacy of profit-seeking motives especially by money-transfer companies, and the failure of governments to confront and address national economic and financial problems (e.g. chronic budget deficits, huge foreign debt, continued reduction of budget for social services and community development).

Remittance should not be made the substitute to the governments’ responsibility of putting up funds for national development – through the national budget, overseas development aid (ODA), or FDI. Migrants should not be made to finance development; instead, sending countries have to properly allocate funds from the national budget; developed countries should fulfill their MDG commitment of allocating 0.7% of their GNP for ODA. Since migrants and their families, are usually the ‘unbankable’ sectors in the home country – i.e. with limited or no access to credit or banking channels – the enormous remittance of migrants can end up in the credit portfolio of local elites and big companies – i.e. further deepening the wealth gap in the home countries.

Moving Forward

We commend the convening by the Secretary-General of this informal hearing on migration and development, and the forthcoming High Level Dialogue in September 2006. These are positive initial steps in building multi-stakeholder and international understanding on migration and development.

We support the proposal of the Secretary General for a subsequent follow-up forum. However, we believe that all these are not enough to push the momentum forward. We propose that there should be continuing forums or dialogues organized by the United Nations, with substantive participation by migrants and civil society in order to build consensus and encourage collaboration on people-centered development. Such discussions need to be organized at the national, regional and international levels.

We call for the ratification, adoption and effective implementation by all member states of all the core UN and ILO human rights instruments, particularly the Migrant Workers Convention. We further urge the United Nations to promote the Right to Development Declaration. These core standards and frameworks should be the basis in building collaboration and pursuing local and international “migration and development” agendas.

We call on the UN and members states to support, provide enabling policies, help scale up people-oriented development strategies spearheaded by migrants and civil society groups, e.g. MSAI.

We urge the individual member states to dialogue and explore areas of consensus and collaboration with migrant groups and advocates, towards building national migration and development agendas based on the rights-based approach, social justice and people-centered development.

Submitted by: Rex Varona
Asian Migrant Centre / Migrant Forum in Asia
12 July 2006