I will post brief first impressions after each GFMD Civil Society day – here comes Day 1: After a very fitting opening at the Brandenburg Gate on the evening before (Day 0, so to speak, see picture), the GFMD Civil Society Days went to work quickly on Thursday. Some disappointment was voiced over the opening ceremony speeches; without being unfair to the German representatives, but do we really need to be told again how many migrants are there worldwide and how high the amount of remittances is in relation to development aid? The Davos style panel debates that followed provided
some updates and backgrounds on the negotiations about the “Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration” (GCM. Here, one thing became clear quickly – When it comes to the GCM, one could quote Game of Thrones: “You know nothing, Jon Snow!”. Or, as Gregoty Maniatis from the International Migration Initiative put it: “There is still no one out there who knows what the global Compact of migration is”. It was discussed how this is a chance and a risk for civil society at the same time, and one of the major questions that emerged, was “Should the global compact be binding – and would that be a good thing or bear the danger of undermining existing conventions?” It all comes down to the as of yet unknown content and mechanisms of the GCM, obviously. There was consensus, however, that no matter the outcome the GCM must mark not the end but the beginning of the process. As François Crépeau, the (leaving) UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants pointed out, that a plan of action was the minimum goal for the GCM and it would need a 15-year agenda with goals, targets and indicators.
The afternoon was marked by working sessions. I joined the one focusing on labour migration. Recruitment played a major role and the Germans present where surprised by all the praised lauded upon the “German model” of recruitment, because we were not aware that it existed. It might refer to no recruitment fees for the employee and the inclusion of trade unions and migrant labour agreements.
So how did I feel about the first day? Governments like to ask from civil society – often unfairly, I might add – to bring forward concrete solutions, policy measures etc. This year there can be no debate that the debate at the CSD is particularly focus – because even if it remains elusive, the GCM still provides a specific target for advocacy and suggestions.
Let me close this assessment with a quote from UN special rapporteur Louise Arbour referring to the GCM: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably not getting there.”