Statement to Human Rights Council March 10

 

34th regular session of the Human Rights Council

10 March 2017

 

Enhanced interactive dialogue on the human rights of migrants in the context of large movements

Comments by Monami Maulik

International Coordinator, Global Coalition on Migration

 

Excellencies and colleagues, particularly migrant organizers and civil society friends.

 

It’s an honor to be invited to speak on behalf of civil society and our members of the Global Coalition on Migration. The Global Coalition on Migration (http://gcmigration.org) is a multi-sectoral coalition of civil society organizations, most of which are migrant-based or migrant-led. These include large regional networks in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, together with labor, policy, and faith-based organizations.

The GCM together with many other civil society organizations – has been actively mobilizing our bases across regions and strategizing for concrete inputs into the upcoming consultations and the subsequent negotiating process towards the adoption of a Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration. We look forward to the opportunity for dialogue today on working towards a genuinely inclusive process.

Migrants today and including those in the context of large movements, are facing a human rights crisis at all stages of the migrant journey-

  • in their places of origin,
  • in transit and at borders,
  • in places of destination
  • and, often, upon return.

With inadequate access to regular and safe channels for migration, migrants are pushed into attempting dangerous journeys where they risk exploitation and violence from State and non-State actors.

 

States militarize and externalize borders in the name of deterring such movement — deploying policies from push-backs and border closures, to detention (including of families and children), to expedited removal procedures that deny effective access to asylum— and that are punitive and disregard human rights. But that’s not all. There is no evidence that fences, border walls, detention and other excessive border control measures are a deterrent – they do not prevent people from attempting as well as succeeding in irregular entry, especially when they are responding to unmet labor demand in destination countries, reunification needs with family members, as well as in seeking international protection.

 

However, human rights challenges and vulnerabilities migrants face do not result exclusively from the context of large movements, irregular movements, or indeed from movement at all. Migrants are not always “on the move.” They are also people who are residing outside their country of citizenship who often live and work in precarious conditions and face criminalization merely because of their irregular migration status.

Within the current context of growing xenophobia in rhetoric and policies, migrants are increasingly the scapegoats of deeper economic, social and political transitions within many receiving societies. Where discriminatory policing practices lead to profiling based on race or perceived migration status, many migrants and their families live in perpetual fear preventing them from raising their voices, joining trade unions or accessing basic public services.

This fear is well founded, and this is why firewalls are so important to migrants’ safety, security, and exercise of basic rights such as access to education and healthcare. Firewalls keep immigration enforcement authorities separate from local law enforcement and public service provision. And yet effective firewalls are far too rare. There are some current developments that GCM is concerned about in both the United States as well as the European Union that would require city officials as well as health care providers, social workers, school administrators and homeless shelters to report undocumented migrants to the immigration authorities.[1]

In order to identify promising practices on the protection of the human rights of migrants in vulnerable situations, it is central to recognize that first and foremost migrants are rights holders at all times, whether they are in transit at the border or in any country.

GCM and our civil society partners therefore applaud the migrant-centered perspective of the Principles & Guidelines on the human rights protections of migrants in vulnerable situations within large and/or mixed movements. This migrant-centered perspective also lends itself to developing practical measures and actionable commitments where civil society also plays a role in monitoring and implementation at the national and local levels.

For this reason, it is essential that the Global Compact process elevate genuine migrant participation. This means that, civil society and particularly migrant-led organizations ourselves must be engaged in a sustained and meaningful manner. Migrant organizations, should be involved as central actors from the phases of design, development, implementation and monitoring of the Global Compact. To this end, the Global Coalition on Migration and civil society partners are actively mobilizing to translate the human rights commitments of the New York Declaration into concrete action.   With a diverse base of regional members, we see our twin objectives this year as (1) broadening the conversation and access to information on the Global Compact itself and (2) enhancing the capacity of migrant organizations to effectively contribute to the compact process. For many civil society and migrant organizations engaged on the ground, the Global Compact is far removed from their daily experience addressing immediate migrants’ rights challenges. It is imperative that the Global Compact process does not leave behind the very communities on the ground that it seeks to address. As such, our coalition members are actively engaged in developing accessible resources and webinars on the Global Compact– across thematic issues and in a bottom-up process. Understanding regional, national and local contexts and existing best practices will be key in identifying the distinct challenges, common issues and actionable solutions in practice.

 

 

 

The Human Rights Council could contribute to the process of development of the global compact

by working with civil society, human rights mechanisms, National Human Rights Institutions in the consultation process on actionable commitments and how they can be implemented. The Council can also play a role in encouraging states to incorporate Principles and Guidelines into the Global Compact. Lastly, it is essential to specifically call attention to regularization programs – it is very welcome that regularization was included in list of measures to be explored in the Global Compact Process.

 

In ensuring that the human rights of migrants remains a central element within the global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration, it is significant that the first of the six thematic consultations will address the “Human rights of all migrants, social inclusion, cohesion, and all forms of discrimination, including racism, xenophobia and intolerance.” However, it also imperative that the human rights of migrants be a cross-cutting concern across all consultations (at the global, regional and national levels), at multi-stakeholder hearings, in stock-taking and during negotiation of the Global Compact itself.

 

Concluding Remarks:

 

Civil society is committed to upholding existing human rights norms and instruments and to raise our concerns to measures in the Compact that would undermine these norms and their implementation– particularly in the context detention, returns, trafficking and smuggling. In addition, we will proactively offer practical recommendations based in existing member expertise and regional dialogues on issues of critical importance to our members including on labor rights, increased regular migration pathways, regularization, firewalls, ending child detention.

 

In keeping with the commitments of Member States’ in the New York Declaration while recognizing the realities of current political climates at national and regional levels, it will be strategic to achieve a rights-respecting Global Compact as a foundation for longer-term and graduated timeline of outcomes. The success of the Global Compact process, and of the global migration governance processes it launches, will depend upon the inclusion and engagement of many sectors of civil society, including grassroots migrant-led and migrant organizations and communities.

GCM stands in solidarity with refugees, migrants, Muslims, families and communities

GCM in Solidiarity w Refugees, Migrants, Muslims PDF

GCM Stands in Solidarity with Refugees, Migrants, Muslims, Families and Communities
As a global coalition of migrant and migrant-led, policy, faith-based and labor organizations, the Global Coalition on Migration stands in solidarity with and supports those targeted by U.S. President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders: refugees, migrants, Muslims, their families and communities–our communities.
These rushed, ill-conceived and mean-spirited measures include–

-Building a massive wall all along the U.S.-Mexican border;
-Refusing entry for 90 days to US visa holders from seven countries with Muslim majorities (Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Syria);
-Suspending admission of already-vetted refugees for 120 days, stopping admission of Syrian refugees indefinitely, and drastically reducing the number of refugees the US will admit this year and in the future;
-Expanding immigration detention and stepping up deportations; and
-Withdrawing federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that refuse to require local authorities to act as immigration enforcement agents and “mandating” local and state cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.

As reasoned responses across the political spectrum have noted, the measures really miss their mark. Rather than increasing safety and security, they divide, polarize and invite backlash. They target and scapegoat refugees, migrants, and Muslims– and families and communities both within and outside of the United States. They authorize and license racist and xenophobic responses and spread insecurity and fear, while withholding federal funding for cities that would protect all their residents. They keep people who have fled war and persecution, have been thoroughly vetted and have often waited years in third countries from being able to start new lives. They keep students at US colleges and universities from returning to their classes and those who have visited family in countries of origin from returning to their families, lives, and jobs in the US.

The impacts are far reaching for millions of migrants and refugees around the world. Outside the US, these measures embolden right-wing nationalist politicians and governments utilizing xenophobia and fear to dismantle social, economic and political rights across communities. Further measures by the Trump administration could wreak even more havoc around the world: an additional draft order would drastically cut funding to a wide range of United Nations agencies, including those responsible for peacekeeping.
On the other hand, we are emboldened to support and defend the rights of those who have been targeted by the Trump Administration’s policies. We are inspired by the shows of solidarity within and beyond the United States—

-The three million who marched at Women’s marches worldwide for intersectional rights, bringing the voices of undocumented and migrant women and girls to the center;
-The thousands who have protested in airports across the U.S. against the Muslim and refugee ban and organized networks of legal support for the release of those detained;
-The undocumented and immigrant youth who have organized alongside trade unions, faith groups, civil rights groups, mayors and policy-makers and businesses to set up “sanctuary” cities and communities and “hate free zones.”

We are committed to the struggle for human rights for migrants and refugees in the critical years ahead as governments, the UN, civil society and stakeholders negotiate the global compacts on migration and on refugees.

GCM Statement on Governance for Dhaka

Peoples’ Global Action on Migration, Development & Human Rights Background Paper for Strategy Sessions 1A and 2A 

Global Migration Governance

 

Moderators:                         Monami Maulik, Global Coalition on Migration

Discussion starters:          Jille Belasario, Transnational Migrant Platform

Michele LeVoy, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented

Migrants

Rapporteur:                          Evalyn Tennant, Global Coalition on Migration

In addition to the listed moderator, rapporteur and discussion starters, a number of participants have also been asked to serve as facilitators and rapporteurs for the table discussions, which will be focused on particular regional contexts.

 

Introduction and context. We are convening in Bangladesh for this PGA at a moment when governments are paying increased attention to migration governance, and also at a moment when millions of migrants around the world face extreme risk and danger—in transit, in the countries where they are living, and on returning or being returned to countries of origin or third countries. The Global Compact negotiations demonstrate elevated world attention to migration governance, as does the ILO decision to devote the International Labor Conference 2017 General Discussion to migration governance and the Global Compact. The IOM has become a related organization of the UN, with uncertain implications for the roles of other UN agencies with migration mandates, in general and in relation to facilitating the Global Compact negotiations. At the same time, a rising tide of xenophobia has brought overtly anti-immigrant leaders into office in some countries, and they are on the threshold of power in others. These challenging and often contradictory streams require civil society and social justice organizations to act with a renewed sense of urgency and purpose. We need to gauge progress on existing goals and campaigns, while also updating and adapting our priorities to the changing governance landscape and broader context.

 

Improving migration governance or “doing governance better” must mean protecting migrants better, giving women, men and children more mobility options, better options, and safer options. Since the 2013 HLD, States’ responses to emerging as well as ongoing migration challenges have frequently fallen short of protecting migrants’ rights and well-being, and even their lives.  The September 19 Summit aimed to respond to this situation. Via a negotiated Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration, the New York Declaration attempts to map a path to more effective and coherent multilateral governance of migration, in keeping with States’ 2015 commitment in the 2030 Agenda to “leave no one behind” and to “cooperate internationally to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration involving full respect for human rights and the humane treatment of migrants regardless of migration status, of refugees and of displaced persons” (Para. 29).

 

Global Compact. In the New York Declaration, States “reaffirm and will fully protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status; all are rights holders. [States’] response will demonstrate full respect for international law and international human rights law and, where applicable, international refugee law and international humanitarian law.” But they do not say how they will do so. Civil society has an important role to play in ensuring that this commitment can be effectively implemented. And as we discuss below, the use of firewalls between immigration enforcement on the one hand, and access to justice and to basic services on the other, is a critical mechanism to protect the rights of all migrants.   Similarly, while the New York Declaration makes reference to addressing the drivers of migration (and not only the drivers of forced migration), civil society has a role in ensuring that this commitment is fleshed out, and that the broad aim of SDG 10, to reduce inequality within and between states, is what informs negotiations and not simply Target 10.7, “Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.” 10.6, for example, aims to “ensure enhanced representation and voice “for developing countries in decision-making in global international economic and financial institutions in order to deliver more effective, credible, accountable and legitimate institutions.” Along the same lines, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda aims to support national development efforts, committing to pursue “policy coherence and an enabling environment for sustainable development at all levels and by all actors, and to reinvigorating the global partnership for sustainable development” (Para. 9).

 

With respect to fully incorporating a gender perspective in the governance of migration, there is much to be done. Thus far, attention has focused too narrowly on women’s vulnerabilities. While all women—and all people—must be able to travel and live in safety, the New York Declaration, for example, focuses too narrowly on women as victims, on their vulnerabilities when travelling irregularly. Civil society should promote a broader approach, one that starts not with migration, but with progress toward equality, as expressed in Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda, to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Progress on Goal 5 in states of origin and destination would go far toward reducing women’s vulnerabilities in migration. The closer women and girls come to enjoying equal rights and opportunities— to education and training, to credit, to property, to inheritance, to mobility, to health services— the better their opportunities for decent work and the less likely they are to find themselves in a situation in which they are compelled to migrate— especially under circumstances that leave them particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, whether sexual or gender-based violence or workplace exploitation. Destination states must address the particular needs of migrant women, who almost always face discrimination on the basis of their gender and migration status (and even more so if they are irregular), and who are more likely than men to work in sectors not covered by labour protection.

 

Migration—and therefore migration governance– affects millions of children who migrate alone or with family members, and it also affects children whose family members migrate without them, as well as those at risk of separation from parents subject to detention and/or deportation due to irregular status. Both regular and irregular migration cause children to be separated from migrating family members. Multiple regions have experienced increases in numbers of unaccompanied and separated child migrants, and the protection of their rights continues to be a governance challenge. Despite authoritative guidance from the Committee on the Rights of the Child on detention never being in the best interests of the child, much weaker language ended up in the New York Declaration.

 

Migrant, migrant rights and allied social justice and civil society organizations should push to ensure that the Global Compact provides a future-oriented framework for rights-respecting governance and improved implementation in policy and practice on issues related to:

 

  • Labor migration, including recruitment reform
  • Gender and the empowerment of women
  • Migrants in crisis, distress or precarious circumstances
  • Border securitization, militarization and externalization
  • Detention, including the detention of children and families
  • Returns and deportations
  • Effects on migration of international trade and trade agreements
  • Racism and xenophobia toward migrants


 

Urgent existing calls for action:

  1. End detention of migrants (children, pregnant women and families most urgently) for purposes of assessing migration status and implementing alternatives to detention, and recognize that international standards state clearly that detention is never in the best interest of the child;
  2. Ensure firewalls between immigration enforcement authorities on the one hand, and other government agencies and services on the other, enabling all migrants’ access to social services and to the criminal justice system to report crimes against them, without fear of being detained or deported;
  3. Respect the rights of all migrants, regardless of status, at work and outside of work; provide access to healthcare, including reproductive health services for women; to accommodation, and to education for children;
  4. Improve transparency, accountability, and adequate standards in labor agreements, preferably by involving the ILO and social dialogue partners;
  5. Reform temporary and circular migration programs to enable workers to fully exercise their rights, including the right to organize and collectively bargain, to use visa portability to change employers and to access justice for protection from retaliation;
  6. Keep civil society spaces open, defending human rights defenders—especially migrant rights defenders—and supporting migrants’ rights to free association and especially migrant workers’ right to join a union.

Guiding questions. This working session is aimed at linking global governance institutions and legal frameworks to the regional issues and contexts at which most civil society organizations operate. Recognizing that critical issues vary across regions, we invite participants in the regionally-organized discussion tables to identify the one or two most critical migration issues in their region in need of improvements in governance.

  1. Where and how—what processes, what levels– can civil society organizations intervene most effectively to improve respect for migrants’ rights, access to justice, safety, and ability to lead decent lives?
  2. In your region, what are the current priority issues for improving migration governance? These can be ongoing priority areas or issues that have emerged more recently.
  3. What is the level (or what are the levels)—local, national, regional, global– at which governance needs to be improved? Please pay special attention to
    1. possible intersections with global governance and negotiation of the Global Compact; and
    2. whether improvements are needed in law or in implementation (in policy and practice) of existing laws (and if there are international standards needing to be transposed into national law);
  4. What should civil society recommend for actions that civil society and/or States, individually or collectively, can take to address these pressing issues and challenges? And, if appropriate, what benchmarks would be effective to measure progress in addressing these issues?

 

 

United Nations Summit on Refugees and Migrants: As Governments Converge in Historic Moment, the Global Coalition on Migration Urges Stronger Commitments to Protect the Human Rights of Migrants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 19, 2016
Contact: Monami Maulik at +1 (347) 385-9113
Click to download PDF version

NEW YORK — As world leaders gather to address the mass movements of migrants and refugees, migrant and civil society organizations from around the world will address their concerns that the Summit may fall short on concrete commitments to protect migrant and refugee rights in practice, as revealed in preliminary summit documents.

Yesterday, over 150 heads of state signed the “New York Declaration” to make commitments on refugees and migrants.  Tomorrow at 10 a.m., global trade unions and migrant organizations will hold a speak out and media briefing across from the United Nations (UN) at 1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

 Speakers across civil society will bring attention to the conditions that make migrants vulnerable to abuse and what exactly is needed to secure their human rights. There are many millions of irregular migrants living and working around the world, most working in low-wage jobs in the informal economy- in agriculture, domestic work, construction, and various service sector jobs.

 Jille Belisario, a migrant organizer with the Transnational Migrant Platform in the Netherlands and a civil society speaker at the UN High Level Summit explains,

We need to allow people to move across borders for purposes including: to work, to look for work, to have paths to residency and citizenship, to return home, to return to a job, to get education or training, to reunite with family.

The narrative must shift away from that of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ people and to one that upholds the human rights of all people, including all refugees and all migrants. The large movements of today are ‘mixed flows’ of people who are displaced due to economic, political, or environmental upheaval, many of whom will not qualify as refugees as defined under the 1951 Refugee Convention or how it is being applied. Civil society groups will look more closely at what governments are proposing with respect to migrants and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants’ commitment to a two-year process to develop a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (Annex II).

What the Declaration thus far reveals is the reluctance of governments to make concrete commitments to protect migrants’ and refugees’ rights in practice.  Worse, some governments actually insisted on language that backtracks from existing international human rights obligations including those on ending the practice of detaining children.

Child rights authorities worldwide underline that the detention of migrant and refugee children is never in their best interests and always a child rights violation. Children should never be detained, even as a measure of last resort. Even the shortest amount of detention can have detrimental effects on children’s health and well-being,

explains Michele LeVoy of the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants. Migration needs to be much more than simply “safe, orderly and regular,” but it cannot be that until migrants’ rights are truly protected, regardless of their status.

Oscar Chacon of Alianza Americas will also be a featured speaker at a civil society event at the summit.

GCM spokespersons available for interviews:

Members of the Global Coalition on Migration (GCM) will participate in the two upcoming press briefings of migrant organizations from around the globe in conjunction with the September 19 UN High Level Summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants:

Jille Belisario, Transnational Migrant Platform (Netherlands/Europe) and speaker at the UN High Level Summit

Milka Isinta, Pan Africa Network in Defense of Migrant Rights (Kenya/Africa)

Oscar A. Chacón, Alianza Americas (U.S./Americas region)

Michele LeVoy, Platform for the International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (Belgium/Europe)

Catherine Tactaquin, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (U.S.)

Roshan Dadoo, Women in Migration Network and Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa

The Global Coalition on Migration (www.gcmigration.org) includes regional and international networks of migrant associations, migrant’s rights organizations and advocates, trade unions, faith groups and academia, covering every region around the world.

###

Will a Global Compact on Migration Lead to Lasting Change?

migrants_in_hungary_2015_aug_016GCM Blog Post on OSF Voices Blog

By now, the images are familiar: dozens—sometimes hundreds—of people crowded into unseaworthy boats, refugee camps the size of small cities, a child’s dead body washed up on the shore. The very presence of these migrants at the borders of powerful states forces governments to confront immediate and pressing protection concerns, and migrants to bear the worst in racist and xenophobic rhetoric, policies, and violence.

On September 19, heads of state from across the world will gather at the United Nations for an unprecedented high-level summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants. It will be followed by a leaders’ summit on refugees hosted by President Obama, where calls should be made for global commitments on increased funding and more welcoming policies. Out of the UN summit will emerge a political declaration and plans to develop a comprehensive refugee response framework and a global compact on migration over the next two years.

The UN will also commit to initiating a global campaign against racism and xenophobia—part of an effort to demonstrate collective action in response to what the UN calls “mixed flows,” or people displaced due to economic, political, or environmental upheaval, many of whom fall outside the legal definition of refugee. These efforts are intended to result in “safe, orderly, and regular migration” for all. President Obama’s summit is expected to see calls for global commitments on increased humanitarian funding and more welcoming policies for refugees.

Will it work? The Global Coalition on Migration and our civil society partners have been monitoring shifts in the global governance of migration for many years. Time and again, we see “crises” arise, followed by calls for collective action. In process after process, states pretend that they are responding, but what we see in reality is the repetition of the same vague commitments they have made for years—to respect the human rights of all migrants regardless of status—without moving in the direction of actually doing so. Is the UN’s global compact process shaping up to be any different? So far, the signs aren’t good.

For one, migration is characterized primarily as a national security and enforcement concern. Despite the welcome and necessary commitments of states to combat racism and xenophobia, deterrence continues to be the cornerstone of migration policy, rendering migrants vulnerable to human rights violations, racism, and xenophobia at all stages of the migration process. Migrants continually struggle to have their voices heard in this context.

The rise of far-right political parties and candidates has intensified these trends and fueled militarized responses to large groups of people on the move. Fear-driven political rhetoric leads to billions spent on border fences, detention, and mass deportations, criminalizing migrant communities, and presenting a persistent challenge to achieving long-term social integration rooted in human rights and nondiscrimination. These responses also fail to address the drivers of mobility.

Migrants from developing countries are also valued only insofar as their labor can be exploited for the benefit of the economies of destination and origin countries. Rather than policies to expand decent work opportunities for all, states favor circular migration regimes—visa programs that place workers from developing countries in low-wage jobs in rich countries, providing temporary status only for work, without opportunities for family reunification, and rarely with paths to permanent residency. Under these schemes, migrants’ employment and immigration status are precarious, rendering them vulnerable to human rights violations, including violations of their labor rights.

In contrast, those from developing countries who are considered highly skilled and those who hold passports from rich countries move across borders with relative ease. The social and political contributions of migrant workers are key to building diverse and plural democracies, but are undermined through routine violations of their rights.

Recognizing that urgent action is needed to ease the suffering of migrants and refugees is commendable—but it’s only the first step. Real progress would mean using the considerable resources of the UN system to support the implementation of international law and labor standards that, if monitored and enforced, would actualize the protections we all seek.

It would also mean states cooperating to fulfill their commitments to protecting the rights of migrants regardless of status and providing pathways for regularization. States would establish strict firewalls between immigration enforcement authorities and government agencies to ensure that all migrants have access to social services and the justice system without fear of detention or deportation.

We need migration options that are more than “safe, orderly, and regular.” Policies must be migrant-centered and respectful of migrants’ agency and leadership. People from all countries should be allowed to move across borders freely for a range of purposes, such as making asylum claims, looking for work, pursuing education, reuniting with family members, starting on a path to citizenship, or escaping the effects of failed economic policies, environmental degradation, political instability, conflict, or other push factors at home.

Circular migration programs that exploit the low-wage labor of migrant workers perpetuate a race to the bottom in wages and rights protections. Migrant workers’ visas shouldn’t prevent them from changing their employer, deny them the right to organize and collectively bargain, or create conditions that make accessing justice difficult if not impossible.

Whether next week’s summit and subsequent negotiations will result in real change in the lives of migrants and refugees remains to be seen. Will states commit to actual plans to implement the international laws and standards designed to uphold the rights of all migrants, beyond providing assistance to the most vulnerable? This would require a sea change in approach. Anything less, and we are likely gearing up for more of the same.

GCM Endorses Action Committee Response & Scorecard for 9/19 Summit

In preparation for the upcoming UN High Level Summit on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, the civil society Action Committee—made up of migrants’ rights and refugee rights CSOs—has released a response and scorecard for the UN High Level Summit’s New York Declaration. The response outlines 7 actions that states must take to improve conditions for refugees and migrants all over the world. The Global Coalition on Migration signed the document as a coalition.

GCM members remain concerned about whether a Global Compact on migration will truly protect the rights of all migrants as the New York Declaration promises. More specifically, we have the following concerns:

Well governed migration must be more than merely “safe, orderly and regular”; it must also protect migrants’ human rights and guarantee access to justice when those rights are violated. Responsible and coherent collective approaches to migration governance must focus on developing mechanisms to allow people from all countries to move across borders for purposes including to make asylum claims, to work, to look for work, to pursue paths to residency and citizenship, to return home, to return to a job, to get education or training, to reunite with family members.

In the Summit Declaration, States commit to protecting the human rights of all migrants regardless of status, but they do not specify how they will do this in practice. To be effective the negotiating process should be based inside the UN; provide a strengthened and more coherent institutional framework, minimally including leadership from OHCHR, ILO and IOM; be grounded in existing international law, including human rights and humanitarian law and labour standards; be part of a multi-stakeholder process that includes participation by civil society and migrant organizations and a process of national and then regional consultations with stakeholders. The Global Compact should provide implementation and operational guidance.

Recognizing that most migration is for labour, States must progressively improve standards for regular migration programs and ensure their effective implementation. This means that labour agreements should focus more on the rights of migrants and less on the benefits to origin and destination states, including paths to regularization and access to justice.

GCM will be tracking all of these items as negotiations move forward.

Global Coalition on Migration Urges Stronger, Concrete Commitments to Protect the Human Rights of Migrants

Media Advisory – 12 September 2016
For inquiries contact: Monami Maulik, Advocacy Coordinator, +1 (347) 385-9113
Click to Download PDF version

Members of the Global Coalition on Migration (GCM) will participate in two upcoming press briefings of migrant organizations from around the globe in conjunction with the September 19 UN High Level Summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants.

Press briefings:
Sunday, Sept. 18 at 1:30pm Eastern Time Church Center of the United Nations, 10th Floor 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017

Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 10am Eastern Time
1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, New York, NY 10017

Civil society speakers representing GCM from various regions will address their concerns that the High Level Summit may fall short on concrete commitments to protect migrant and refugee rights in practice, as revealed in preliminary summit documents.

While much of the attention around the Summit—from States, civil society and the media—has focused on responses to refugee issues, the Summit and its outcomes are also intended to address the full range of issues facing migrants and their communities. Speakers will explain why governments need to take urgent action to provide for regular migration that upholds human and labor rights and to set aside deterrent migration policies. Migration-related proposals are being scrutinized in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and a commitment to a two-year process to develop a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (Annex II).

GCM spokespersons available for interviews:

Leaders from migrant rights organizations, organized labor and faith groups that work with migrant communities on the ground and in international advocacy, including:

  • Jille Belisario, Transnational Migrant Platform (Netherlands/Europe) and speaker at the UN High Level Summit
  • Milka Isinta, Pan Africa Network in Defense of Migrant Rights (Kenya/Africa)
  • Oscar A. Chacón, Alianza Americas (U.S./Americas region)
  • William Gois, Migrant Forum in Asia (Philippines/Asia)
  • Michele LeVoy, Platform for the International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (Belgium/Europe)
  • Catherine Tactaquin, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (U.S.)
  • Roshan Dadoo, Women in Migration Network and Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa

The Global Coalition on Migration includes regional and international networks of migrant associations, migrant’s rights organizations and advocates, trade unions, faith groups and academia, covering every region around the world.

Statement: GCM Reflections on the September 19 Outcome Documents

GCM Reflections on the September 19 Outcome Documents:
Most of the work is yet to be done, and States need to act now.

August 2016
Download the PDF here

On August 2, after several weeks of intense negotiations, the Member States of the United Nations adopted a Political Declaration and two Annexes as outcomes for the upcoming September 19 United Nations Summit addressing large movements of refugees and migrants. We applaud the work of the Co-­facilitators in forging this agreement and we welcome States’ commitment to “reaffirm, and… fully protect, the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status.”

But what the Declaration really reveals is States’ reluctance to act collectively to make concrete commitments ensuring implementation of respect for migrants’ and refugees’ rights in practice. Worse, some States actually insisted on language that backtracks from existing standards; the US-­led weakening of the draft language­­ that had recognized that detention for purposes of assessing immigration status is NEVER in the best interest of the child and committed States to ending the practice­­ was especially shameful.

Elsewhere, in paragraph 2.3, some States’ security concerns led to commitments to strengthening cooperation to keep people out, with insinuations of connections between terrorism and refugees and migrants. This is despite a lack of evidence that deterrence and securitized borders keep people from attempting—and sometimes succeeding at—irregular entry, especially when they are responding to unmet labor demand in the destination country.

Perhaps even more importantly, State deterrence policies are completely inconsistent with the important expressed commitments to combating racism and xenophobia and to “changing the narrative” to emphasize the positive contributions migrants make to societies of destination as well as origin. On the contrary, State policies preventing regular entry, criminalizing irregular entry and detaining migrants who enter or stay without documents can only contribute to the demonization of migrants and refugees. This is intensely counterproductive to combatting racism and xenophobia and achieving the social cohesion and integration that we all seek.

We call on States to stop wasting time. There are many millions of migrants living and working around the world, most working in low­wage jobs in the informal economy­­ in agriculture, domestic work, construction, and various service sector jobs. Their conditions of life outside of the framework of legal and social protection impose risks and burdens on them, but also negatively impact the rest of society and the potential for social integration. We call on States to show leadership and take action now to:

  • End criminalisation of migrants and ensure that irregular entry or stay is only ever an administrative offense and not grounds for detention;
  • End detention of migrants (children, pregnant women and families most urgently) for purposes of assessing migration status and implementing alternatives to detention, and recognize that international standards state clearly that detention is never in the best interest of the child;
  • Ensure firewalls between immigration enforcement authorities on the one hand, and other government agencies and services on the other, enabling all migrants’ access to social services and to the criminal justice system to report crimes against them, without fear of being detained or deported;
  • Respect the rights of irregular migrants at work and outside of work, including access to healthcare, including reproductive health services for women; accommodation, and access to education for children;
  • Ensure that gender issues are fully addressed at the levels of law, policy and practice so as to empower women in migration and allow them to enjoy full and equal rights protection and benefits from migration;
  • Address the need for paths for regularization of irregular migrants in the interests of social cohesion and integration.

Well governed migration must be more than merely “safe, orderly and regular”; it must also protect migrants’ human rights and guarantee access to justice when those rights are violated. Responsible and coherent collective approaches to migration governance must focus on developing mechanisms to allow people to move regularly across borders—whether to make asylum claims, to work, to look for work, to return home, to return to a job, to get education or training, or to reunite with family members. Recognizing that most migration is for labor, we call on States to commit to progressively improving standards for regular migration programs, and to ensure their effective implementation. Improved labor standards must:

  • Focus on the rights of migrants, benefits to migrants and preferences of migrants as central concerns of regular labor migration programs, not simply benefits to origin and destination states, which often come at the expense of migrants and their families;
  • Reform temporary and circular migration programs to enable workers to fully exercise their rights, including the right to organize and collectively bargain, to use visa portability to change employers and to access justice for protection from retaliation;
  • Provide migrant workers with the widest possible range of mobility choices, including paths to permanent residency and citizenship, with the right to family reunification;
  • Improve transparency, accountability, and adequate standards in labor agreements, preferably by involving the ILO and social dialogue partners;
  • Develop and expand mechanisms for recognition of skills and qualifications at all skill levels;
  • Go beyond current efforts at recruitment reform, developing effective oversight and portable justice mechanisms to guarantee access to justice and end impunity of exploitative recruiters and employers.

We note that if States ratified the nine core international human rights treaties and ILO Conventions including 97, 143 and 189, domesticated them in national law and implemented them in policy and practice, they would effectively address almost all of those urgent needs for reforming regular labor migration programs. Paragraph 3.8 asks States to “consider” ratifying or acceding to the 1990 Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. We call on States that have not done so to do more than consider it, and to ratify the Migrant Workers Convention now.

We urge States to work both individually and collectively, now and through the Global Compact negotiating process, to address the issues we have outlined and to do so as part of a genuinely multi­stakeholder process. States must take advantage of the mandates, expertise and capacity of UN and other intergovernmental organizations as well as that of civil society, including migrant and migrant­led organizations.

We also urge States to devote greater attention to addressing drivers of forced migration and to supporting better migration and mobility choices for all. While we focused here on improving the respect, protection and fulfillment of migrants’ rights, we want to emphasize that the ultimate goal­­ of the UN, of its Member States, and of global governance­­ must be the respect, protection and fulfillment of the human rights of all. Looking toward achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and beyond, States and all stakeholders must take a view of the place of human mobility in the future of humanity that is both longer and broader.

#UN4RefugeesMigrants

Statement: End Child Detention

Don’t Lower the Bar on Children’s Rights:
End the Detention of Migrant Children!

August 2016
Download PDF version here

On September 19, UN Member States are coming together for a High Level Summit to collectively address large movements of migrants and refugees. But instead of rising to meet the challenge, some countries are trying to back away from existing obligations and standards. One of the most alarming examples was the successful last­-minute attempt to weaken language in the Summit’s Political Declaration, which in early drafts reaffirmed that detention is NEVER in the best interest of the child and committed to end the detention of children for purposes of assessing their (or their parents’) migration status.

“Best interests of the child” is a legal principle articulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely­ratified of international human rights instruments. Of all the countries in the world only the United States has failed to ratify it. But in U.S. law and the law of most countries, the “best interests” principle is enshrined in national (and sub­national) law as a primary consideration in decisions concerning a child’s welfare.

It is shameful that the U.S., together with other wealthy countries that pride themselves on their respect for human rights and rule of law, has acted in such a heavy­handed and clumsy way in an attempt to defend the indefensible.

The offending language of the Summit’s Political Declaration, as advocated by the U.S., is found in Paragraph 2.12, which states:

… Furthermore, recognizing that detention for the purposes of deter mining migration status is seldom, if ever, in the best interest of the child, we will use it only as a measure of last resort, in the least restrictive setting, for the shortest possible period of time, under conditions that respect their human rights and in a manner that takes into account, as a primary consideration, the best interest of the child, and we will work towards the ending of this practice.

This language is inconsistent with and backtracks from multiple authoritative interpretations of the best interests of the child:

The Convention on the Rights of the Child

“…no child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily” [Art. 37(b)] and children have the right not to be separated from their parents against their will [Art. 9].

The Committee on the Rights of the Child

“Children should not be criminalized or subject to punitive measures because of their migration status. The detention of a child because of their parent’s migration status constitutes a child rights violation and always contravenes the principle of the best interests of the child. In this light, States should expeditiously and completely cease the detention of children on the basis of their immigration status” (DGD 2012, Para 78).

The Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants

The detention of children and adolescents, even for short periods, is detrimental to their physical and mental health. “Children in immigration detention are often traumatized by the experience and have difficulty understanding why they are being ‘punished’ d espite having committed no crime.” “The conditions of detention, which may include overcrowding, forced separation from family, sharing cells with adults, exposure to sexual abuse and violence and lack of adequate food, have a negative impact, both from a human rights and a developmental perspective. In addition, children in detention are often deprived of access to education, health and play and leisure facilities” — none of which can be said to be in a child’s best interest.

The Inter­-American Court of Human Rights

The “last resort” caveat, does not apply in the case of migrant children on the grounds that this principle was developed to respond to criminal offenses, not for administrative offences like irregular border crossings. “…the deprivation of liberty of children based exclusively on migratory reasons exceeds the requirement of necessity, because this measure is not absolutely essential in order to ensure their appearance at the immigration proceedings or to guarantee the implementation of a deportation order… the Court finds that the deprivation of liberty of a child in this context can never be understood as a measure that responds to the child’s best interest.”

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers

“…it has been repeatedly stated that the detention of child migrants cannot be, in any case, in line with the principle of best interest of the child (…) there is a consensus that unaccompanied or separated children from their families should not be deprived of liberty. Families with children should also not be deprived of liberty, and detention cannot be justified on the grounds of preserving family unit.”

In the U.S., E.U. countries, and elsewhere the rights of children are violated every day as a result of punitive immigration detention regimes. Held in detention centres, unaccompanied or with family members, for immigration status violations or separated from detained parents or guardians, detained children are deprived of their rights to liberty and family life. They are taught at a young age what it means to be members of a criminalized community and experience the impacts of xenophobia and racism, which are further amplified by such policies.

As Member States move into a two­-year process of negotiations of a Global Compact on Migration, we demand that they prioritize the legal and moral obligation to ensure the highest standard of protection for migrant children and reject provisions that would put children’s rights at risk. States must affirm that detention is never in a child’s best interest and immediately end the practice of detaining migrant children.

#EndChildDetention

Download PDF version here

GCM Submits Civil Society Considerations for 19 September HLS

In June 2016, the Global Coalition on Migration (GCM) — representing a broad, global, multi-sectoral coalition of civil society organizations supporting migrants’ rights and rights-based migration governance — submitted a civil society perspective on important considerations for the 19 September 2016, High Level Summit to Address Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.

The full set of recommendations can be viewed and downloaded here:
http://gcmigration.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/GCM-Recommendations-for-HLS.pdf.

A Spanish version can be viewed and downloaded here:
http://gcmigration.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/GCM-Recommendations-for-HLS-Espanol.pdf.