Presentation of the working group Migrations

Why must social movements tackle the issue of international migration?

Because it is a question of humanity.

It is unacceptable that people receive inhumane treatment simply because they want to change their place of residence. We can no longer turn a blind eye to migrants who arrive fleeing numerous dangers and insecurity, nor consider what has been done in recent years to be an appropriate response. The catastrophic increase in deaths and missing persons in the Mediterranean and the many reports documenting serious human rights violations of migrants in transit countries (slavery, trafficking and prostitution, torture, etc.) are evidence of the deterioration of the situation of those who leave their country.

Because it is a question of flagrant injustice between "North" and "South".

The systems that govern migration essentially address the prerogatives of individual nations and are no longer in line with the migration realities of the twentieth century that are marked by globalization. These systems violate a fundamental right enshrined in article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [1]. They provide for two different types of mobility: the more privileged countries offer their citizens almost limitless opportunities for circulation, while the other three quarters of humanity are stuck in a form of de facto house arrest. This results in aberrant administrative processes, demands of excessive financial guarantees, slave-like working conditions, and a growing criminalization of so-called illegal immigration... Today’s migrants have become victims of unjust treatment and institutional violence, as well as prey for criminal organisations.

Because the current approach is based on multiple faulty analyses.

Politicians back a utilitarian view of migration, leading to the belief that it should be reduced in times of crisis as though it would worsen the situation. This policy results from two errors of analysis: one that holds that migration has a negative impact on the economy, and another that maintains that border closure leads to decreased migration. Numerous studies have highlighted the positive impact of migration on the economies of destination countries. For the countries of origin, migration promotes development thanks to remittances sent back by migrants, among other factors: in 2012, the total official remittances repatriated to their countries of origin by migrants were 401 billion US dollars globally. According to the World Bank, these remittances are considerably greater in total than official development assistance.

Repressive migration policies appear to aim to reduce the flow of migration: this idea is based on a misunderstanding of the causes of migration, which include factors of both attraction and repulsion. The movement of people in the Mediterranean region has never been so large as it is today, while at the same time the resources used for border control have never been so expansive and sophisticated. The consequences are disastrous: between 2000 and 2014, more than 40.000 migrants died while trying to get to countries than their own, including 22.000 in the Mediterranean. Ultimately, one thing is clear: even as the control and monitoring apparatuses and legislative arsenal grow, migration will not decrease and political leaders are demonstrating their inability to come to any useful conclusion about it. In addition to not achieving its objectives, this repressive policy is extremely costly.

Because the current approach threatens social harmony in all societies.

Many nations have instituted repressive migration policies characterized by closed borders and increased border control resulting in the creation of a category of people considered "illegal". This policy further divides our communities and contributes to the rise of intolerance due to the perception of foreigners as threatening and undesirable, leading to tragic situations for migrants.

Migration today is commensurate with a globalized world still in development and is set to grow and diversify. To deny, ignore, or assert the ability to control this state of affairs has resulted in the worst excesses: the death and suffering of thousands of people, the negation of human rights, the increasing segregation of rich and poor, not to mention the mounting frustration and isolationism that feeds extremism. The time has come to rethink the conditions that affect mobility, which will require a universal perspective and change in governance. Such a change must be built from the perspective of universal citizenship and with the participation of civil societies and the migrants themselves. It is urgent to finally see migration as an ordinary fact of our society, a hallmark of the present and future, and deeply connected with global changes of which it is both cause and consequence. It is time for social movements to mobilise and call for an awakening of conscience and collective intelligence as well as a change of course away from the impasse, and meet the historic challenges facing us.

How can we mobilise?

By showing our outrage! By calling for an awakening of consciences!

We have to let go of a world that no longer exists, stop exhausting ourselves with these futile, counter-productive and murderous policies, and recognize the evidence for mobility and the opportunities it offers for individual and societal development, solidarity, and peace. In a world of interdependence and communication, the border can no longer be a barrier, a fence, or still less a cemetery, but a place for meeting, exchange, and opening the way to self-realization. Social movements must now break the silence and raise their voices to denounce this unacceptable state of affairs.

By being proactive!

Social movements must now look at what is happening around the world and propose alternatives. Show that alternative migration policies are possible. Show that there are already geographical and political spaces in which the free movement of persons is practised (the Schengen area for the European Union, UNASUR for South America, ECOWAS for West Africa, ASEAN countries for Southeast Asia...). To avoid that the freedom of movement itself become a source of new forms of insecurity or exploitation, it will have to be closely associated with equal access and respect for other fundamental rights, i.e. with a vision of universal citizenship. At the same time, guarantees for asylum and international protection must be reaffirmed. Nothing can be built without a minimum of binding targets, regulatory requirements, allocation of responsibilities and respect for commitments. Universities must play an active role in publishing scientific content on migration phenomena and in the teaching of these issues.

By joining forces and making a united front!

Only a multi-stakeholder dialogue will allow progress in this area. For this, a place of discussion among nations, local authorities, elected officials, experts, and civil society must be created under the umbrella and the legitimacy of the United Nations. After launching a "high-level dialogue" and presenting extensive work and statements recognizing migration’s contributions, the United Nations must take a step further by bringing together a conference of States for the implementation of the freedom of movement of persons. Migrants must play an key role in discussing the right to mobility and freedom of movement and installation, and their word should be promoted outside of these forums. Beyond the numbers and theories we must always remember that behind migration issues are human lives, and migrants are in the best position to testify. It is therefore essential to give the floor to the first concerned and to allow them to be full citizens and social actors. This alliance between migrant associations and other social movements must not forget to also defend the right to stay ’home’ and make sure that migration is not their choice by default! In this sense, it is essential to also join forces with associations who want to defend "the right to live and work in the country." the country."

[1Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. 2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.