Details are emerging on the upcoming Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) which will take place in just a little over four months in Berlin. For the first time, the Civil Society Days will start one day after the government meeting (June 28-30) and run from 29 June until 1 July . On Friday, 30 June the common space between government and civil society representatives will take place at the German Federal Foreign Office. The location for the Civil Society Days is still being discussed – and the same goes for the selection mechanism of delegates. More clarity has been reached on the central issues: Germany, who co-chairs the forum with Morocco, wants to focus on a “Global Social Contract on Migration and Development” and on strengthening the business mechanism within the Forum. But why is the Forum taking place so shortly after the 2017 GFMD in Dhaka, Bangladesh?
The main answer can be found when looking at the German political calendar: The next elections for the German parliament will be held on 24 September 2017. The German chair – somewhat understandably – wants to organize the GFMD before the elections – and not too close to them either, which is why the September date that had been floating around for some time did not materialize. In late July/August the German political scene goes on a summer break and from7-8 July the G20 summit will take place in Hamburg – thus, the end of June seemed to be the latest possible date.
As a result, there are only a few months to move on from the Bangladesh GFMD, a situation I find far from ideal – with one exception: The late June date opens up the possibility to link the GFMD closely to the deliberations on the “Global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration”. This process has been started by the UN General Assembly in September 2016, and the goal is to present the outcomes at an intergovernmental conference on international migration in 2018. In particular representatives of migrant civil society plan to use the Berlin GFMD to assure that migrants’ voices will be included in the preparations for the compact.
In the case of another less-than-ideal aspect of the Berlin GFMD I am still struggling to find a positive aspect: The scheduling. With the government days running from Wednesday to Friday, the established formula would have been to hold the Civil Society Days from Monday to Tuesday (26-27.6.), and bring everybody together on Wednesday. But apparently, nobody had taken into consideration that in 2017 Eid Al Fitr, the Islamic holiday at the end of Ramadan (“Fastenbrechen” in German), will be held on Sunday, the 25th of June – when the organizers became aware of it, they opted for a later date (the exact reasoning remains fuzzy – was it the Moroccon chair that was uncomfortable with potential overlaps?)
As a result, this is the
Wednesday, 28 June:
Opening government meeting at the German Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt or AA)
Thursday, 29 June:
Opening civil society days, location unclear; government representatives are also welcome, but on the afternoon the business mechanism is scheduled at the AA (a short plenary, 4 breakout sessions, one of them could tackle refugee access to labor market), so there will be some overlap. The modalities of civil society – and in particular trade union – participation are not fully clear yet. At least in the evening all delegates can come together for a joint reception at the AA.
Friday, 30 June
Common space between civil society and government delegates at the AA. There are also plans to continue the “tea tables” that were started in Bangladesh – from my impression not exactly a rousing success, but worth continuing / improving upon. The format brings together small numbers of delegates from government and civil society to discuss a specific topic, with 1-2 of the civil society delegates being selected right at the GFMD.
Saturday, 1 July
While the government representatives are off to enjoy their free weekend, the civil society days continue – and maybe discussion will reflect directly on the common space? One positive aspect I can see here after all is that a “post-commonm space day” would allow for strategizing based on the previous meetings and in particular with reference to the global compact.
These are the infos on the “official GFMD”, but as in previous years, several other meetings might take place. One of them is The People’s Global Action on Migration, Development, and Human Rights (PGA) – a more inclusive forum, that usually takes place before the GFMD and that feeds directly into the civil society days (through a resolution/recommendations but also through people – in Dhaka, 50 PGA delegates were invited to parts of the GFMD). Plans to hold a PGA in Berlin are currently under discussion – I will post here once there are specific outcomes.
The Churches Witnessing With Migrants (CWWM) – “an international platform for common advocacy of migrants, migrant advocates, churches and ecumenical bodies” has been confirmed by Bread for the World to take place before the GFMD, but no exact dates yet. In Dhaka, some of their delegates also organized a meeting of the International Assembly for Migrants and Refugees (IAMR). Something similar might happen, but expect this to be announced at rather short notice.
Looking at the application process for civil society, the cramped schedule once more becomes obvious – in previous years, 4 months before the meeting the application was already well underway. What has been confirmed so far is the overall number – 500 government delegates, 200 civil society delegates (plus a “German contingent” possibly). For Dhaka, the selection process had been somewhat decentralized, with roughly half of the delegates being selected by the International Steering Committee and the other half by regional networks. That process is currently under review, and according to John Bingham from the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) there will be a meeting in the next days that will discuss the procedures for 2017.
Finally, a few more links:
The draft concept paper of the 2017-2018 Co-Chairmanship:
Particularly relevant for German migrant civil society: There wil be preparatory workshop on 1 March in Bonn, you can find more infos at this dedicated website by the German GFMD civil society contact VENRO – an umbrella organisation of development and humanitarian aid NGOs: