Viewpoint by Dr Patrick I Gomes
Dr Patrick I Gomes is the Secretary-General of the ACP Group of States based in Brussels. Following is a slightly abridged version of his statement at the United Nations Summit on Refugees and Migrants in New York on September 19, 2016.
NEW YORK (IDN) – The 79 Member States of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP) welcomes this timely and relevant meeting on migration. The ACP-European Union Cotonou Agreement provides for an on-going dialogue on migratory flows which is jointly pursued to address protection of human rights, non-discrimination in treatment of third country nationals, and of strategies to reduce poverty, the basic issue of the ACP-EU Dialogue on Migration.
In our view, Migration phenomena are a pervasive reality of a globalised century. However, the upheavals and sheer numbers of forced movements of people, and the attendant humanitarian crises in the last two decades require measures to overcome the negative aspects while strengthening the benefits of migration.
This implies attention to multiple drivers of migration – political, economic, social and environmental.
Political drivers, for instance, stem from the prevalence of conflict, wars, persecution and violations of human rights. These contribute to dire consequences for vulnerable populations particularly women and children, the aged and disabled.
Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development underscores the imperatives of peace and security as enablers of sustainable development. Building peaceful, cohesive and secure societies is therefore a pre-requisite to overcome structural causes of forced migration.
Economic drivers include financial instabilities, high rates of unemployment especially youth unemployment, lack of access to health, education and other social services. These give rise to growing poverty and inequality that push people to migrate, using legal or illegal networks.
From drought and floods climatic disasters give rise to climate refugees.
The ACP Group supports global initiatives such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction aimed at mitigating risks of disaster and the consequent displacement.
To address these drivers of migration requires international solidarity through common efforts for effective implementation of Agenda 2030. Six goals and targets on Migration allow for a systemic approach to the inter-related issues of migration and development.
Facilitation of orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people through planned and well-managed migration policies are in SDG 10.7.
Additionally the situation of migrant workers is highlighted in SDG 8 on decent work for all and should address reducing youth unemployment by promoting youth entrepreneurship.
ACP Member States are partners to migration mechanisms that include the Khartoum and Rabat Processes that formed the background to the EU-Africa Summit on migration, held in Valletta, Malta in November 2015. Every encouragement must be given to implement the Valetta Action Plan.
The ACP Group also examines readmission and return policies, remittances, visas, and trafficking in human persons.
Academic and research mobility, the demands for needed skills in developed countries require well-defined strategies by cooperation between sending, transit and receiving countries.
It is generally agreed that migration has demonstrated positive effects to both sending and receiving countries. The latter receive needed skills in their services sectors. Some ACP States benefit significantly from remittances.
In 2015, for example, remittances to developing countries amounted to $432 billion, more than three times the Official Development Assistance (ODA) of that year. The ACP reiterates its call for reduced banking charges and acceptable correspondent banking arrangements on remittances for developing countries.
On human trafficking and smuggling, the strength of trafficking networks continues to be on the rise and the ACP Group remains committed to partnerships that aim at tackling trafficking in a more concrete and comprehensive way, for example by providing ACP Governments and regional organisations with technical expertise to curb the scope of those networks.
The ACP-EU dialogue on migration will continue to treat migration from a development perspective, recognising that it needs to be addressed in its root causes of poverty and absence of economic opportunity.
The SDGs would hopefully address some of the factors that predispose the desperate and alienated to mass migration. In the short to medium term, countries may wish to focus on the proximate causes of migration and those factors that trigger or precipitate mass movements, most of which are political in nature.
In conclusion, the ACP reiterates support for the proposed negotiations for a Global Compact for Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. They clearly reflect the principles and spirit on which ACP-EU Migration dialogue is based.
We remain optimistic that the adoption of the outcome of this meeting will be the continuation of a positive and balanced response to migration that serves the common interest of humanity as a whole. . [IDN-InDepthNews – 20 September 2016]
Photo: Dr Patrick I Gomes
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