GMPA: How the world got it wrong on migration…


„The world is generally getting it wrong on migration“ – this statement was shared by several speakers at the launch event of the Global Migration Policy Associates (GMPA) that was held Monday afternoon. Examples given were the ignorance of policies makers of the reality  that “90 percent of migration today is about the world of work”, a critique of the trend towards deregulation and sceptical views on the benefits of circular migration. Regarding the GFMD starting today,

there was a debate if the forum can be considered progress or actually a problematic preservation of the status quo (I will post some thoughts on this issue in a separate posts in the next days).

Former ILO Senior Migration Specialist Patrick Taran introduced the GMPA as a flexible network currently consisting of 15 members. While several think tanks on migration are in existence, these are mostly situated geographically (which quite often mirrors “mentally”) in specific national or regional environments. The GMPA on the other hand aims to respond to the crucial need for a global perspective.

In this regard, the symposium held yesterday  can be considered a promising start with representatives of civil society, trade unions and governments participating – among them Claire Courtaille from the ,International Trade Union Confederation ( ITUC), Michele Levoy,  from  the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) and Manuel Imson from the Philippine Mission to International Organizations in Geneva.

Among the challenges discussed was the increased need for migrant labour due to domestic labour shortages in the next 20 years, while on the other hand an increasing proportion of migrants is working in an unregulated environment. A decline of labour inspections goes hand in hand with border enforcements.

There was also critique of a selective approach to migration – since the assumption that rich countries need predominantly workers in so-called skilled professions is actually not necessarily the rule. For example there is a high demand of domestic and care workers in the European Union, but there are only very few  legal channels available. This discrepancy is leading to a rise in undocumented migrant workers.

Not all was seen as gloomy, though: The evaluated and “renewed” EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility GAMM) might mark some progress – for example, it proposes a directive on seasonal workers which would mark the first time the EU is addressing the issue of low-skilled or  rather low-wage workers. Last week around 300 stakeholders were brought together in Budapest to discuss GAMM.

Regarding circular migration programs, it was argued that these are not compatible with international labour law, for example by denial of freedom of association, voting gin union elections, rights to change employers etc. There was debate whether circular migration programs were really addressing the needs of migrant workers or employers or a rather a reaction to – if not fuelled by- xenophobia in stressing that the migrants  will certainly go home after a specified period of time.

The first GMPA symposium, organized and announced on rather short notice, is planned to be followed by further discussions on a regular basis.

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About Stefan Rother

Lecturer and Researcher at the Department of Political Science, University of Freiburg -- Freelance journalist -- You can find my CV at the links below:
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