Participation at the Commission was in the following ways – submission of a written statement, (also available in French and Spanish) attendance at panel discussions, delivery of an oral statement, sponsoring a side event, moderating a panel, attending the Civil Society Forum and contributing to the Civil Society Declaration. The keynote speaker for the forum was Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. View the webcast! Start at marker 34.05 The issues being addressed are inequality, fiscal policy, wage policy and social protection which may be intimidating, boring, and uninteresting; issues to be addressed elsewhere. You may experience resistance to a discussion on fiscal policy but the reality is that the policies we care most about – the rights of girls and women, and human rights more broadly are fundamentally determined by how economic policies are evolving worldwide. Throughout the world today we are seeing the triumph of neo-liberal policy prescriptions – taxes are being cut in many countries and governments are under great pressure. Governments are less relevant, less interested and less able to respond to the sorts of agenda that are before this group. Privatization is the only option – governments cannot do it. Deregulation becomes important because we need a more conducive environment for business. This becomes problematic if the starting point is how to protect and promote the rights of girls and women or how to protect the least well off or those close to it – which is a much higher number. Policies of austerity are often anti-girls and anti-woman. He cited examples from Ghana – an African success story determined by neo-liberal policies but 1/4 of all girls are married before their 18th birthday and there are direct connections between child, early and forced marriage and poverty; and the UK where he identified that single mothers were under the greatest pressure – with a moralistic response coming from a male-dominated government and punitive policies designed to force young mothers out to work and make it difficult to get the benefits they are entitled to. We need to bring alive and create awareness that fiscal policy and austerity measures have social consequences for everyone but in particular for girls and women.
Our recommendations to the Commission are as follows: Implement national social protection floors, in line with ILO Recommendation 202 and SDG 1.3, while scaling up existing social protection policies towards universal social protection. Realize SDG 8 by protecting and promoting human and labor rights, decent work, and living wages so that people can work and live in dignity and prosperity. Achieve SDG 10 by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, and by creating inclusive fiscal, wage and social protection policies that create resilience and economic opportunity among vulnerable communities. Implement progressive tax systems and end impunity for tax abuse to mobilize resources for social protection floors and other public services. Invest in financially inclusive loan programs, microfinance loans, and small business cooperatives that empower socially excluded people to reclaim their dignity and become active participants in their financial decisions. These recommendations are at the heart of our position paper for Economic Justice “The disparity between the accumulation of extreme wealth and the inescapability of extreme poverty offends the dignity of human beings, is an affront to the common good, and tends toward disastrous cyclical misery. Extreme amassment of wealth and refusal to share resources and material goods are both cause and effect of social and spiritual ills.”
You may well ask what is the ‘Marrakech Compact’? It is the new name for the Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration adopted in Marrakesh, Morocco on 10 and 11 December, 2018 and again adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 19 December, 2018 following a vote.
The Congregation was represented by Cecilie Kern, (right) from the GSIJP Office in New York, and myself Donatus Lili, the NGO Regional Designate for RIMOA.
The conference was preceded by side events organized by Civil Society Organizations and Member States in conjunction with the United Nations. I attended 3 side events at Palmeraie Golf Palace in Marrakech, the official venue for the adoption of the Global Compact on Migration. (GCM)
In the open discussion following one of the panels, I asked the representative of the government of Sri Lanka, what recommendations he would make to governments in the Middle East on developing effective policies and measures to protect migrants’ rights with regard to religious tolerance as persons of African origin have been denied right to practice religion and obliged to wear the Muslim attire. Further some women domestic workers are subjected to sexual exploitation by employers, endure harsh working conditions, and only receive minimal salaries.
The response indicated that countries of origin need to teach migrants about their rights, in particular with regard to salaries and ensure that they know how to get help if needed during transits, or in the destination country.
The two days intergovernmental conference consisted of statements by countries in support of the Global Compact on Migration and two dialogues (i) Promoting action on the commitments of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and (ii) Partnerships and innovative initiatives for the way forward.
Of the 193 UN Member States, 164 were present in Marakesh for the adoption the Compact. Members expressed dissatisfaction and stated that while the compact is non- binding it highlights the obligation of every member state to formulate strategies and policies towards facilitating safe, orderly and regular migration. The compact is a framework, a blueprint.
His Excellency, Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, in his opening statement challenged some myths and false information concerning the Global Compact for Migration and highlighted the need for everyone on the move to obtain formal authorization and that human dignity and human rights must be respected and upheld irrespective of status To deny this – to vilify any group of people – is the road to dehumanization and horror. Societies are stronger, more resilient and enriched, not threatened, by diversity. Every member, every group, must feel valued as such and simultaneously feel they belong to the society as a whole. This is the way to counter the current groundswell of racism and xenophobia.
Ms Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the former president of Liberia and Chair of the High-Level Panel on International Migration in Africa delivered a key note on December 11, 2018. I had the honor of meeting her after the session.
Some personal reflections on the experience:
The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) is extremely new to me. While I had done reading I found it difficult to understand. Through my participation in the side events and presence at the official adoption by UN Members states I have some more clarity. I was confused when the Secretary General stated, “GCM is non –binding” meaning every state is free to adopt or not. I would have preferred a binding treaty agreement. On the same note, a non-abiding agreement leaves each state free to develop measures and policies to fulfil the 23 objectives.
Attendance at the conference provided me with the opportunity to meet various NGO’s who are engaged in migration policy and grassroots efforts. Among these was Maria Pia Belloni, Chair, NGO Committee on Migration, in New York and UN Representative, World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP) See the NGO Committee Website for more information
My view on migration has changed. I previously discouraged people from migrating but now I will ensure they have the correction information and migrate in a safe way using legal channels. Statements that I heard indicated that a holistic approach to migration is necessary. If there are well established frameworks it follows that the process works for all – including the migrant and the host country.
This mending blessing was in some advent reading I was doing – I love it as I reflect on advocacy work. ‘The work of repair is aching in its slowness and beautiful in the inches by which it will arrive!’ ‘To dream within the rending of the world that might be made.’
Cette bénédiction réparatrice était dans une lecture de l’avent que je lisais – je l’aime en pensant au travail de plaidoyer. ‘Le travail de reparation fait souffrir dans sa lenteur, et émerveille dans les pas par lesquels il survient.’ ‘À rêver dans le déchirement du monde qui pourrait advenir.’
Esta bendición reparadora estaba en una lectura de adviento que yo leía; me encanta pues permite reflexionar sobre la labor de incidencia. ‘El trabajo de reparación es dolorosopor su lentitud, pero es maravilloso su avance,centímetro a centímetro,hasta llegar al éxito.’ ‘A soñar aun entre los escombros en que el mundo se podría convertir.’
The 57th Session of the Commission for Social Development will be held in New York from 11 – 21 February 2019. The priority theme for the session is ‘Addressing inequalities and challenges to social inclusion through fiscal, wage and social protection policies.’ Among the ways of taking part in the commission are the following – attending the session, preparing a written statement, delivering an oral statement, engaging in side events/parallel events and joining the discussion wherever it is happening. We have prepared a written statement which is now on the Commissions website in Spanish, French, and English
‘En nuestra experiencia, como organización que trabaja a nivel comunitario, las políticas de protección social y las políticas que garantizan un salario mínimo vital a todos los trabajadores son fundamentales para reducir la pobreza, lograr la igualdad entre los géneros y promover el trabajo decente y la inclusión social.’
‘D’après l’expérience acquise dans le cadre des travaux que l’organisation mène au niveau local, les politiques qui assurent à tous les travailleurs une protection sociale et un salaire minimum vital sont fondamentales pour réduire la pauvreté, atteindre l’égalité des sexes et promouvoir l’emploi décent et l’inclusion sociale.’
‘In our experience, as an organization working at the grassroots level, social protection policies and policies that ensure a living wage for all workers are fundamental to reducing poverty, achieving gender equality, and promoting decent work and social inclusion.’
Sign up for NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC to express interest in delivering an oral statement during the general discussion will be open online from 7 January to 24 January 2019. What points do you suggest we make at that time? Write your suggestion in the comment box and we will use them.
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity are privileged to have two members present at the historic conference to adopt the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Louise Arbour said the intergovernmental conference is ‘an opportunity to launch an unprecedented process of cooperation to harness the benefits of human mobility. ‘
Cecilie Kern attended the Global Forum on Migration and Development 5 – 7 December and is joined by Donatus Lili from Kenya for the Intergovernmental Conference on Monday and Tuesday.
You can ready about the conference HERE Last week we encouraged you to sign on to the Marrakech Women’s Rights Manifesto outlining the following concerns: Participation, Non-Discrimination, End Violence, Safe Pathways, Labour Rights, Rights at International Borders and Equitable Development. Today, Cecilie has joined with Civil Society partners on a statement that will be delivered at the opening of the Conference on Monday morning. Once read it will be available for circulation. As Monday is the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights – what a great day to recognize and officially commit to implement the human rights of all migrants! The flyer below has some details of the event to be hosted in Marrakesh.
A tweet from Cecilie – Read the compendium on policy, practices and partnerships compiled by the NGO Committee on Migration Click Compendium
Some familiar faces from New York!
“Wearing orange on the 25th of every month is a practice followed by a number of sisters and staff of the Religious of the Good Shepherd, Province of the Philippines-Japan. But on Nov. 25, Good Shepherd-run institutions and centers in the Philippines were especially ablaze in orange to commemorate the start of the 18-day anti-violence against women campaign in keeping with the United Nations’ “Orange Day” campaign to raise awareness and prevent violence against women and girls.’ Read the full story at Global Sisters Report Congratulation to all and well done!