The Opening Ceremony of the Civil Society Days (CSD) of the 5th GFMD has just come to a close. 186 civil society delegates, among them 73 migrants, will debate for two and a half days among themselves and with government representatives about issues like Migrant Workers’ Families, the “Business” of irregular migration, circular migration and the diaspora as a potential actor of development. For the first time,
the civil society component of the meeting can be considered as “self-governed”, since a migrant-oriented NGO (The International Catholic Migration Commission ICMC) has organised the event.
Out 0f 625 civil society applicants, 186 delegates had been selected. The 73 migrants among them represent 61 different nationalities; 5o of them will act as speakers or panellists in the program.
Among the other participants are 45 observers from regional and international organizations, 43 special guests, around 71 government representatives from 35 countries and 18 media representatives. The latter two categories have only access to selected events of the meeting.
The reason given for this is the very deliberative/outcome-oriented approach taken this year towards the working sessions. These run twice as long as in the past years, will aim to build upon recommendations already agreed upon in previous meetings and have the flexibility to break out into smaller groups if considered necessary.
In the opening ceremony, William Gois (Migrant Forum in Asia) chair of this year’s meeting that was organized on one-third of the budget of the previous meeting in Mexico, called upon the Swiss GFMF Chair-in-Office, Ambassador Eduard Gnesa, to implement some feedback mechanism from the government meeting to provide a reaction to the recommendations/demands of civil society.
Among the speakers at the opening ceremony were ICMC Secretary General Johann Ketelers and Mark Muller, president of the Geneva State Council (pictured on the right).
William Gois posed the question “What difference will this meeting make? It seems like everything that has to be said has been said already in previous meetings but who is listening?” He expressed the hope that the 2011 will have a different sort of impact. In the upcoming days (and beyond), I will aim to document to what degree this will be achieved.