CARAM Asia: GFMD Still Fails as a Viable Platform to Address Migrants’ Concerns
Posted on November 4th, 2009

CARAM Asia – NGO with Special Consultative Status in the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

As governments from around the world convene for the third annual Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) many in the civil society sector continue to question the credibility of the forum as a valid platform capable of producing beneficial change for migrants. As a regional network, Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility Asia (CARAM Asia) stands resolute in our criticism of the current structure that continues to operate outside of formal international legislation and promotes market forces above the human and employment rights of the over 250 million migrants around the world.

 While we acknowledge that the GFMD currently stands as the largest space for international dialogue on issues related to migration, at its core the forum only seeks to address mobility through the lens of economic development via a state driven, voluntary and non-binding platform. As a result of this, key issues such as forced and irregular migration, right to health, access to justice and the overall social cost related to migration remains largely sidelined in this process. As an extension of this concern, CARAM Asia notes that the GFMD has deliberately sought to alienate the role of migrants’ voices from the discussion process and has demonstrated a clear lack of transparency and accountability where many non-binding agreements are made in closed door meetings outside of the scrutiny of rights based observers.

 CARAM Asia will continue to object to the GFMD’s premise that the use of Labour Exporting Policies (LEP) and subsequent generation of remittances can be a tool for sustainable development. Our network is not alone in this view and the findings from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index has continually demonstrated that despite records levels of generated remittances to developing countries, the quality of education, health and overall standard of living has in the vast majority of cases, decreased.

 We at CARAM Asia continue to believe that the GFMD will never become a platform of positive change in the field of migration until it seeks to engage directly with migrants and their communities and halt their continued promotion of failed economic policies. Furthermore, the GFMD must immediately seek to include wider issues related to migration where governments of destination countries are directly encouraged to implement and abide by previous international human, gender and employment rights frameworks to provide migrants the same protections as their own citizenry.

 It is with this in mind that CARAM Asia recommends that the participants of the GFMD take the following steps;

 -Both sending and receiving countries must immediately sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1990)

 -The GFMD must immediately increase its transparency and accountability of the overall process. This must include the participation of grassroots organisations to address the wider social issues related to migration including addressing gender specific vulnerabilities.

 -States that host female migrant workers must adhere to existing rights as laid out in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1979). Through this the GFMD should strongly seek to use its platform to recommend to all participating parties the immediate recognition of domestic work as work with protection in domestic legislation.

 – Migrant workers must be protected by labour rights and Decent Work Standards set out in the ILO conventions

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