It feels as if the Swiss meeting has just ended, but the planning for the 2012 GFMD in Mauritius is well under way. Recently, a brainstorming session was held in Port Louis and at an upcoming meeting of the GFMD Steering Group (SG) and Friends of the Forum (FOF) in Geneva on 06 and 07 February, agreement should be reached on the thematic program for GFMD 2012. From the draft concepts available so far it appears that the Mauritian chair
for the most part aims to build upon the “traditional format” of the meetings from 2007 to 2010, “namely a summit meeting at the end of the year, comprising Roundtables prepared by teams of governments around themes agreed by the Friends of the Forum.”
The 2011 meeting in Geneva is seen as an exception, since the Swiss chair stepped in for Spain on a fairly short notice and aimed for a “decentralized” structure with several meetings in different regions held year-round and a concluding debate at the end. But de facto, this “concluding debate” did not feel all that different to previous GFMDs.
The draft agenda seems to continue mostly issues discussed in previous meetings, which does not necessarily have to be a bad thing: After all, Mauritius will mark the final meeting before the process (temporarily) moves back to the UN with the High-Level Dialogue to be held in New York in 2013. So it can make sense to come up with some closure/final recommendations for the issues discussed during the process so far.
The draft overall theme is in line with this approach and titled “Enhancing the contribution of migration to the development of migrants, communities and states“.
The draft topics for the four Roundtables so far are:
1. Circulating Labour for Inclusive Development:
This comes as no surprise, since Mauritius is part of a model project on circular migration in cooperation with Canada and France. Personally, I consider circular migration to be one of the most vague and confusing concepts in the whole migration and development debate. For example, one gets very frequently the impression that policy makers may speak of “circular migration” but what they refer to is in fact temporary migration (since it is more the return they care about and less the circulation, one might argue…)
This confusion could also be highlighted by a quote from the draft program: “The session could take forward the proposals of GFMD 2011 for governments in destination countries to invest in workforce training and job generation schemes in countries of origin.” This certainyl sounds like a worthwhile endeavour, but what is actually so circular about it? Are migrants to be expected to receive training in their home country, then migrate to and work in the destination country that organized the training and return at one point? But if development is the main goal here, why should they have to migrate at all instead of contributing their newly learned skills in their home country right away?
The other three proposed topics are:
2. Factoring Migration into Development Planning
3. Managing migration and perceptions of migration for development outcomes
4. Gender, Human Rights and Migration
The fourth topic obviously is among the ones with the highest relevance for civil society, and once more a joint session , the “common space” is planned:
“Special regard will be given to the “Common Space” arrangements developed in 2010 and expanded further in 2011, including possible modifications to the format that will be the subject of further discussions with the organizers of the Civil Society Days and the Steering Group. In particular, efforts will be redoubled to structure a space facilitative of genuine dialogue and debate.”
These efforts are certainly necessary, considering the rather embarrassing silence of many migrant-receiving countries, especially all of the EU, during the Swiss “common space”. (which was in several other regards a fruitful debate, to be fair.)
Other aspects that are likely to be continued: input from the ad hoc working groups, an assessment of the GFMD process, and the general structure of the Civil Society Days (CSD). As in the previous years, these will be organized by the International Catholic migration Commission (ICMC), bringing some continuity into the process. The ICMC will be joined by a Mauritian-based civil society partner.
So all is consistent on the migration front then? Not quite, since, firstly, the proposals so far are still in the drafting stage and, secondly, the Mauritian chair-in-Office also wants to tackle topics that deserve more attention than they have gained so far, especially South-South migration and “the specific needs and challenges of African countries and their migrants and diaspora, also in the South-South migration and development context”.
For a comprehensive report on the brainstorming meeting from a civil society perspective, check out this blog entry by Colin Rajah from Migrants Rights International (MRI): http://www.nnirr.org/drupal/node/302