I am on my way to the GFMD in Mauritius now, which certainly looks like a great place for a conference – if you can afford getting there, that is. There are only limited funds available for Civil Society participation this year so while it is perfectly acceptable that researchers from the more developed countries (like me) organize their own funding, it may prevent the participation of NGO/grassroots representatives, especially from the Global South.
On 7 September the GFMD Civil Society Coordinating Office sent out Invitation/confirmation letters to the prospective participants of this year’s Civil Society Days (CSD). In the letter it was indicated that funding was not yet available to
support the participation of civil society delegates in the GFMD. This shortage is by no means due to lack of commitment of the organizing bodies (namely the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC)) but a result of the very limited financial Support provided by the governments involved.
This situation prompted the Global Coalition on Migration (GCM) and its member organizations to write a letter to the GFMD organizing bodies (chairs, the Steering Group, Friends of the Forum etc.) asking for funding to support airfares and accommodation for at least 125 civil society delegates (about half the total invited).
I will provide updates on the number, i.e. how many Civil Society representatives were able to attend and which were not. According to Colin Rajah from the GCM, there have been some small responses from one or two governments. Still, the participation in the Civil Society days keeps being characterized by permanent uncertainties about funding, which actually has been reduced in the past years.
Colin sent me this statement about the Situation:
“It is extremely disappointing that most governments, especially those from OECD and richer states, ignored this plea and continue to show little interest in civil society participation in the GFMD process. This continues to give us concern about the larger structure and purpose of the GFMD, and what space key stake-holders such as migrants ourselves, are given. In spite of the Common Space initiative (which also has its flaws), the issue of civil society access and participation seems to be an annual struggle that bears little hope of being resolved any time soon. It is something the GCM members will closely consider in our upcoming deliberations, in order to find workable solutions for such critical processes in the years to come.”
I will blog about this issue and all things GFMD in the days to come – and after Mauritius I a moving on to Manila for the World Social Forum on Migration, so expect some heightened activity in this blog for the next two weeks!