The Mayors Mechanism (MM) will become a process within the structure of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), starting with the Ecuador chairmanship and summit this year. This is a direct result of the 5th Mayoral Forum on Human Mobility, Migration and Development, held in the “migration week” in Marrakesh last November. I was able to participate in the event and conduct a follow-up interview with Dr. Colleen Thouez, Director of the Welcoming and Integrated Societies Division of the Open Society Foundations. For her, the new cooperation brings many mutual benefits: “Local governments’ input bolsters the position of the GFMD in the context of GCM implementation and follow-up as an all-inclusive venue for dialogue and as a platform to mobilize partners for implementation.”. Red the full interview here:
Stefan Rother: What were the main topics and issues of this years Mayoral Forum?
Dr. Colleen Thouez: The 5th Mayoral Forum on Human Mobility, Migration and Development (“Mayoral Forum”) that took place in Marrakech, Morocco on 8 December 2018. Entitled “City Leadership in Implementing the UN Global Compacts”, it focused on three policy themes: addressing special needs and reducing vulnerabilities; providing access to basic services; and empowering migrants, refugees and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion, including through employment and skills mobility.
For each of these themes, cities identified what they are doing, what they further commit to and what support they need in the areas of resources [e.g. financing], tools [e.g. data, standards] and partnerships [local, national, global].
At the 5th Mayoral Forum a Mayors’ Declaration
was presented by the Mayor of Montreal, Mayor Valérie Plante, for endorsement by cities, identifying common priorities for consideration in the follow-up and review processes of the Global Compacts. It was subsequently presented at the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) on 10th-11th December 2018.
Question: What is the relationship between the Mayoral Forum the Mayors Migration Council and the GFMD and how will this be organized in the future?
Dr. Colleen Thouez: Launched in Marrakesh on 8 December 2018, the Mayors Migration Council (MMC) is a new initiative that seeks to realize the access, voice, and influence of cities around the world in international deliberations on migration and refugee issues. To this end, the initiative’s objective is to empower and enable cities with knowledge, connections, and technical ability to engage in migration diplomacy and policy-making. The MMC is supported by the Open Society Foundations and the Government of Switzerland, and works in partnership with C40 (see also this note:)
Approved at the 2018 GFMD, as of 2019 a GFMD mayors mechanism (MM) will be presented that will comprise both the established global annual convening of mayors (synchronized with the annual GFMD summit), and an ongoing support function for local governments in the form of a secretariat for the Mayors Mechanism.
The MM aims to promote and facilitate a substantive and continuous engagement of mayors and other locally elected leaders in the activities and deliberations of the GFMD. The incorporation of the MM into the GFMD structure and working mechanisms will ensure that the voice of local leaders is duly considered, and that they contribute to the deliberations and recommendations related to migration and development. Their inclusion adds depth and substance to GFMD deliberations and helps to bridge existing divides between local realities and global policy discussions, and between migrants, civil society, and States. It further supports progress in delivering on the broader GCM and SDG agendas through enhancing policy and institutional coherence between different levels of government. Local governments’ input bolsters the position of the GFMD in the context of GCM implementation and follow-up as an all-inclusive venue for dialogue and as a platform to mobilize partners for implementation. And, it ensures greater alignment and strategic coherence across multi-stakeholder fora on migration and development.
The MM will provisionally be equipped with a secretariat led jointly by the newly established Mayors Migration Council (MMC), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), and the IOM that would facilitate coordination, technical support, representational and administrative services.
The MM will pursue cooperation with the UN Network on Migration as relevant to city priorities and actions, and may share the results of the MM workplan with the UN Network, in line with the modalities set out in the GCM. The MM will further explore eligibility for support from the seed funding facility under the Capacity Building Mechanism. Individual or consortia of municipalities may also become part of the assessment and baseline exercise conducted through the Migration Governance Indicators initiative.
Question: What relevance does the Global Compact have for Mayors, and how can they contribute to its goals and implementation?
Dr. Colleen Thouez: First, cities’ engagement in the GCM has had an impact on the framing of priorities for migration policy: One example has to do with cities advocacy for non-discriminatory provision of services for all migrants regardless of status.
The 2016 UN Leaders’ Summit was convened first and foremost to address the plight of all vulnerable migrants.
Yet states and the inter-state system place complicating constraints on this ambition. They resist : a) extending greater tangible protections to vulnerable migrants and simultaneously fail to b) correct the problems with an increasingly restrictive application of asylum law.
This protection gap [for vulnerable migrants] was again fully evident during the negotiations of the GCM as two of the most contentious issues pertained to the distinctions between refugees/migrants and to the treatment of undocumented migrants.
In a written submission that 100+ cities presented last April 2018 to the GCM negotiators, cities argued that “facilitating access to basic services and protecting the human rights of all residents is more than an aspiration; it is fundamental to good governance and safety for all. Socially and economically integrated cities are more resilient and dynamic, which benefits all residents.”
Their advocacy, city advocacy, helped influence language in the GCM – and to overcome a major point of discord between states namely on the services offered to documented versus undocumented migrants.
In the GCM’s final draft, Objective 15on access to essential services its paragraphs (e) and (f) now specifically refer to facilitating non-discriminatory access to public health and public education respectively – what cities continue to advocate for namely: equal access to city services regardless of migration or document status (draft declaration).
The continued advocacy of cities –will be fundamental to ensuring that vulnerable migrants – those who often fall into the protection gap – are protected and empowered.
This is all the more important given the breadth and ambition of the GCM – recalling its 23 objectives – where we can expect States to have a wide latitude in choosing which issues to prioritize; and we may also expect an inevitable tendency to prioritise less controversial objectives.
Second, in terms of resources/funding for cities’ activities, the growing acknowledgement and participation of cities in the international arena must translate into additional material support for the important work that they do.
Cities will no doubt continue to play a central role in moving progress forward on tackling migration challenges despite the increasingly difficult national contexts (political, financial and otherwise) in which they operate.
In doing so, they should really be eligible for international and national funding that adequately supplements resources at the local urban level to ensure basic services and adequate integration of migrants, thereby alleviating the burden on local communities.
They should be supported with resources including through direct access to funds [e.g. from the EU] and through what is foreseen in the GCM, namely a Trust Fund and a Capacity Building Mechanism to “contribute technical, financial and human resources…to strengthen capacities and foster multi-partner cooperation” (para 43 GCM) – [both to be further elaborated in the first half of 2019 through.]]
Third in terms of access – cities can and should actively contribute to the reporting and monitoring of states’ commitments in the GCM. To do so, cities must also have access to the relevant fora for follow-up and review in which a) to provide evidence of their inroads, thereby inciting others to do the same and b) to pressure states – where needed, to abide by the commitments they have made.
Their ability to play an active role in the follow-up of the GCM is not explicit. In the Marrakesh cities declaration (attached) cities call for a role as central stakeholders in the International Migration Review Forum for the GCM [the four-review of the GCM’s implementation].
Moreover, there are promising signs for their direct access to the GFMD the annual inter-state gathering of states on migration – which is expected to approve a mechanism by which cities (and regional governments) can participate directly in the GFMD. Something that may be considered long overdue given that CSOs and even the private sector have benefited from such direct access for the last several years.
(For further information, see Colleen Thouez Eurocities Statement:)