27 October 2008

Migrants' Views Needed in Migration Forums

Global Forum on Migration and Development
The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will lead the five-day Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Manila beginning today (27 October) until 31 Oct0ber 2008.

The GFMD is a new initiative of the international community to address the migration and development interconnections in practical and action-oriented ways. It is supposed to mark the culmination of more than a decade of international discussion on the growing importance of these linkages, and the progressive acknowledgement of the need to address the policy implications and responses in a multilateral framework.

NCRFW chairperson Myrna Yao said the forum's theme this year would be "protecting and empowering migrants for development" which will reflect on the growing understanding that the developmental benefits of migration are dependent on how many migrants are protected and empowered by both the host and origin countries.

However, like the previous forums, there is growing apprehension that it might be another venue where the focus is more on the needs of participating governments instead of taking a decisive role in protecting the safety and security of migrants. There is nothing wring in tackling the needs of various governments, but the very essence of drafting and implementing concrete steps is being put on the sidelines.

There is also the tendency to again focus more on topics that enhances the role of the private sector like banks, corporations, recruitment agencies, money transfer companies, and systematically excluding the migrants themselves and civil society. It has been emphasize before in previous forums what these roles should be. It is high time to identify and punish individuals and institutions that encourage migrants' exploitation, reinforce gender oppression and undermine human rights.

The discussion should also try to be more open to cover wide-ranging topics and avoid praising each participating government's good deed just to gain some 'pogi' points. The forum should try to actively involve the migrants themselves. They have the first hand knowldedge of what are the good practices and migration policies that respects ALL human rights.