Migrant Voices Reclaiming Migration, Development and Human Rights

Declaration of the Europe Working Group - People’s Global Action on Migration
05 November 2010

The official discourse on migration has sought to criminalise migrant and refugee communities, ignoring the root causes of migration and the rights of communities; the Peoples' Global Action on Migration offers an alternative approach based on human rights and inter-cultural dialogue.

New Threats and Challenges in the midst of CRISES: Migrant Voices Reclaiming Migration, Development and Human Rights (Download .pdf)
- Declaration, Europe Working Group-People’s Global Action (EWG-PGA), Amsterdam, October 24th, 2010

During the past decade, migration and the movement of refugees has become an issue high on the agenda of governments. In particular, after the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York and more recently with the unprecedented economic and financial crisis, migrant and refugee individuals and communities are being criminalized and marginalized as potential terrorists or contributors to the crisis.

In many regions of the world, including in Europe with the introduction in 2008 of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum and the EU Return Directive, the policy and discourse is dominated by repressive approaches: exclusion and militarization at borders (Frontex), arrests, detention (including of women and children), and deportation for those inside the Borders.

However, if we observe and listen to what migrant and refugee communities are saying we get a different picture. There is a strong initiative to introduce a mutual Public dialogue; to engage policy makers and civil society to look comprehensively at the root causes of migration - including the impact of EU's global Europe Trade policy which is devastating livelihoods and eroding the potential for development in countries and regions of the South).

There are also calls to re-examine the actual economic, political, social and cultural contribution of migrants and refugees historically and currently in Europe. In fact migrant and refugee communities have built a number of new initiatives to project the voice of migrants and refugees as transnational social actors reclaiming the discourse on migration and development.

The Transnational Migrant Platform (TMP) - in which the TNI participates - is one such initiative. The TMP is currently anchoring the Europe Working Group (EWG) for the People's Global Action (PGA) for Migration, Development and Human Rights – an international response to the Inter-governmental Global Forum on Migration and development, holding its 4th PGA in Mexico from November 2-5, 2010.

In parallel with the official discourse, migrant organizations and civil society networks engaged in human rights, development and alternatives to the global crisis, have been developing a counter discourse – seeing migrants as transnational social actors making a unique contribution to the economic, political and social life of both their home countries and the countries where they live an work.

This "other" discourse - often marginalized or ignored by the media - is also finding stronger expression in new arenas such as the People's Global Forum on Migration, Development and Human Rights (PGA). Like the World Social Forum on Migration (held in October in Quito), the PGA 2010 brings together migrant networks, trade unions, civil society organisations and social movements to reclaim the discourse on Migration and development and to forge new alliances that engage the multiple global crises.

TNI has participated in the Transnational Migrant Platform (TMP), set up in the Netherlands in June 2007 to respond to the EU Return Directive which is envisaging the massive detention (including women and children) and deportation of migrants. The TMP vision is strongly rooted in migrant experience and expertise and aims to change the equation in both the interpretation of the "blame game" and the relation of migration and development.

TMP is one of the main networks facilitating through a Europe Work Group (EWG) - a Europe process mobilizing migrant participation in the PGA. In a series of Forums organized in London, Brussels and Amsterdam, a broad consultative process has lead to a common statement to be addressed to both the PGA and the GFMD.

Key elements are:

  • Identifying our specific demands to bring the GFMD process back to the UN.
  • Developing a joint agenda for the PGA 2010 and ensuring that the PGA in Mexico will give a strong visibility of our migrant movements and communities in Europe.
  • Strengthening our migrant voice and movement in Europe and globally.
  • Developing common Days of Action and Initiatives beyond the PGA 2010 – towards contributing to the building a new Pan European movement and network of migrants organizations.

PGA Mexico & Beyond

For PGA 2010, the Europe Working Group organised a Forum on the PGA in London, Brussels and Amsterdam. During these Forums, we were able to reach out to a broad network of civil society, trade unions and NGOs including development and trade networks. In these Forums, we have discussed the challenges of engagement with the GFMD. In this process, we have developed our Migrant Response in Europe – both to the PGA and the GFMD.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasise that the PGA is only one of the arenas where migrant organisations and networks based in Europe are participating. We have also participated in the World Social Forums as well as in the European Social Forums. And over the decades, migrant organizations have created a proud history of struggles for equal rights and against racism and all forms of xenophobia. This has been our very important contribution to the progressive movements in Europe, even as it also links us to our struggles in our home countries.

We are linking our immediate, local campaigns for migrant rights with the emerging broad movements which struggle for jobs and decent work for everyone and resist the sweeping cuts to Public services which the governments all over Europe are imposing on workers and citizens as well as migrants - making us pay for the crisis which we did not make.

We aim to change the structures and institutions of the global market and to nurture the initiatives that indicate that another world is possible. And as Arundati Roy, the Indian novelist said at the World Social Forum in Mumbai “Another World is possible, and if we listen closely enough…we will hear her breathing”.

Nonoi Hacbang,
Transnational Migrant Platform EWG PGA 2010

Dates of the Common days of Action:

  • Asia-Europe People’s Forum – Brussels October 2-5, 2010
  • October 7-10, 2010 - Migration World Social Forum 4, Quito
  • People’s Global Action – Mexico November 2-5, 2010
  • Climate Summit – People’s Parallel Forum, Mexico December 2010
  • December 10-18, 2010 – Migrant Action Week
  • March 19, 2011 – Anti-Racism Day
  • ILC July 2011 – Convention on Domestic Work