Civil Society in the GFMD – a case of pragmatism or patronizing?


Civil Society has to be “pragmatic”, should be lauded for its “signs of maturity to focus on action and not on rhetorics” and work “with governments and not against them”: Statements like These have been part and parcel of the GFMD since its very beginning, but were especially frequent during this years’ meeting in Mauritius. Should they be considered sound assessments of the growing Cooperation between Civil Society and government delegates – or rather as indicators of a patronizing attitude towards Civil Society at the GFMD? At least one delegate opted for the latter: Mohammad Harun Rashid from CARAM Asia made it clear that he considered the Statement by a Mauritian government official that “civil society should not work against governments” to be “very offensive – because we elected the governments to work for us!”

Thus, the role of Civil Society at the GFMD remains a double-edged sword: Should it fundamentally question the “Mantra” of the migration-development rhetoric and instead aim to move the debate to issues like the militarization of borders, the commodification of labour and the necessity to move the Migration issue from the non-binding GFMD into the UN system? Or should it opt for a more pragmatic approach, at least temporarily accept the current Framework in which Migration is negotiated and try to improve the situation of migrants as much as possible within it?

This balancing act is personified by the UN Special Representative for Migration Peter Sutherland (pictured). Once more he gave a refreshingly frank speech at the GFMD and made it clear that he presently sees no point in talking about fundamental issues – “the theology of Migration” – but rather wants to Focus on pressing problems like the Situation of stranded migrants.

Which approach do you favour? I, for once, am looking forward to discuss some of These “theological” aspects  at the upcoming World Social Forum on Migration – I am Boarding my flight to Manila right after this post…

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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:
This entry was posted in Gfmd, GFMD Civil Society Days, GFMD in General and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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