The People’s Global Action on Migration, Development & Human Rights (PGA) is a long-established Civil Society event that started in New York in 2007 and will take place for the 13th time this year in Marrakech – right after the GFMD and before the Intergovernmental Conference to adopt the Global Compact for Migration. How does the PGA relate to these events, what is this years’ main agenda, what are the envisioned outcomes? These are some of the questions I asked Felix Braunsdorf from the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), which supports progressive coices in gathering such as the PGA (and hosted the 2017 Meeting in Berlin):.
Q: What is the main agenda of this years’ PGA?
Felix Braunsdorf (FB): The overall theme of the PGA 2018 is “Equality of Rights for everyone, everywhere”. Civil society, including migrant networks, trade unions and social movements will send a strong message to states: all migrants, regardless of where they are and which legal status they have, need to have access to their rights. This should be self-evident, but civil society is currently experiencing that more and more states are implementing a security-oriented approach to migration and are emphasizing isolation and deterrence. States militarize and externalize their borders and criminalize cross-border mobility of people. All of this goes hand in hand with the rise of right-wing governments and increasingly xenophobic public discourses. While most countries have more pressing issues to address, populists are stirring up fears of “foreigners” to gain and consolidate political power. That is also why the PGA will closely examine the content of the Global Compacts for Migration and how states are interpreting it. The PGA creates the space to critically assess realities around the world and to advocate collectively and stringly for the human rights of migrants.
Q: In previous years, the PGA took place before the GFMD, and provided input. Now it is “sandwiched” between the GFMD and the Global compact conference. What is the rationale behind this?
FB: The PGA understands itself as an independent space for voices and leadership of organized grassroots migrant and diaspora networks and communities, which are typically marginalized in international forums. Unlike the program of the civil society days, the PGA program is not based on the GFMD’s state agenda. Instead, it is based on what many organizations are facing on the ground. This includes, for example, the shift towards a security-oriented approach to migration, the legitimization of immigration detention, the rise of right-wing governments or the situation in the Mediterranean. The PGA agenda reflects the full range of issues connected to migration, including the underlying problems of poverty and injustice, and how civil society and governments must address these. That the PGA is now taking place between two major events on global migration has many practical reasons. First, it ensures a broad participation and public attention. Second, the PGA will, of course, provide time to discuss the outcomes of the GFMD – which wouldn’t be possible if it took place before the GFMD.
Q: What are the themes that will be discussed, what is the format of the PGA?
FB: The PGA 2018 will be structured around five themes:
- Migrant’s rights as rights for all
- Gender and migration
- Social cohesion and belonging
- Migration and development
- Migration and climate change
The workshops and regional spaces will be facilitated by networks working on the respective issues. All workshops addressing one of the five main themes will do so by focusing on their respective implications for one of the five geographic areas: Africa; Maghreb and Middle East; the Americas; Asia/Pacific and Europe. The goal is to assess the political conditions for migrants’ rights in each region. Then, participants will engage in planning and in building stronger collective civil society action. In the end, the plenary assembly will try to develop a common vision and strategy for movements fighting for the rights of migrants and their families.
The full program is available on the official PGA website: http://www.peoplesglobalaction.org/
Q: Who are the main organizers, how many participants do you expect? What is the role of the FES in the PGA?
FB: Traditionally, the PGA will be jointly organized by a broad coalition of international and local migrant groups, trade unions, human rights organizations, faith-based/religious groups, and other NGOs and networks. The organizing structure typically includes an International Committee (IC) working alongside a Local Organizing Committee (LOC), and other related bodies. The LOC is led by the Euro-Moroccan Platform Migration Development Citizenship and Democracy (MDCD) and the Forum for Alternatives Morocco (FMAS). The LOC is composed of representatives of the Moroccan Diaspora, associations of migrants in Morocco and civil society organizations. Many partner organizations of FES are active in various global, regional and national networks, which are all coming to Morocco’s Migration week. FES aims to strengthen and support progressive voices of our partners in international forums, including the UN as well as GFMD and PGA. We believe that these migrants’ and other civil society voices are needed more than ever to develop concise migration policies that focus on development as well as on a global mobility infrastructure based on human rights.
Q: Regarding continuity/sustainability – will the Marrakesh PGA build upon the one in Berlin and what is the envisioned outcome?
FB: The PGA is traditionally a forum for migrant networks and civil society organizations to (1) analyze the state of migrant rights around the world, (2) share organizing experiences, and (3) strategize for collective actions and interventions in the international forums and global processes. These are the three main pillars of the PGA Berlin as well as the PGA Marrakesh. Personally, I believe that the PGA 2018 will seek to go beyond criticizing the current developments. The Marrakesh PGA provides the chance to consolidate and strengthen a common narrative framing migration as a structural and ordinary feature of our human history.