Migration: A social issue according to the WSF Dakar 2011

Migration: A social issue according to the WSF Dakar 2011

Thursday, 10 March, 2011

During the World Social Forum (WSF) 2011 in Dakar, migration has been the subject of rich debates/discussions. Although migration is one of the main pillars of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, they remain one of the biggest concerns for the citizens of a globalized world.

The WSF is not only a special event but also a framework where people on the move, activist organizations, NGOs and locally elected leaders meet. Accordingly, this forum has been a tool for learning from others and sharing experiences with about 50 000 people coming from 123 countries around the world, gathered in the Senegalese capital Dakar, around the challenges of the day. One reason for the popularity of the WSF 2011 is its focus on migration and Diasporas as a structural problem of globalization.

Focusing on topics of interest, the WSF has raised recurring issues on migration, mobility and migrant workers, and this through an exchange of ideas and proposals of possible solutions around various activities. In fact, the most active organizations1 in the debate on migration issues organized, participated and facilitated activities. Thus a series of workshops, conferences, panels, film screenings, cultural and artistic activities have covered the issues linked to migration, including: human rights aspects, living conditions, migrant workers' rights, child rights, human trafficking, etc.

From Human Rights to Migrants Rights

In the context of globalization, it is imperative to focus on the respect of human rights and the right of access to justice. Indeed, the migration issue has been addressed in terms of the current situation of migrants with an emphasis on their rights. The largest assembly during this period and around the subject was held in Goree Island (Senegal); it refered to the economic, social and cultural contribution of migrants and Diasporas to their regions of origin. This great assembly in Goree which followed a process that began in 2006 in France, resulted in the release of the “World Charter of Migrants”,. This document is a proposal for a charter of demands on the situation of migrants. The idea of preparing the charter came from the remark that although there are many conventions and declarations on the issue of migration, they all represent the interests of States. As such, they do not reflect the views of migrants on the issue of migration and the rights to be respected by States. During the Forum of the Locally Elected the establishment of a network of local communities was also discussed, which should promote the initiative “open territory to migrants”, and the application of the Convention on the Rights of migrant Workers.

From Vulnerability to Trafficking in Persons

The debate on protecting human rights does not overshadow the issue of child rights. Indeed, in a discussion around the theme “Migrants: a welcome worthy!”, the question about welcoming migrant children was raised. This debate was an opportunity to introduce the problem of difficult living conditions of “minor” migrant children, who are between 9 and 18 years of age. In search of revenues to support their families, they often fall into the trap of adults who bring them in other countries and submit them to sexual slavery. A network of African organizations is developing cooperation within the ECOWAS region that aims at helping these children return to their respective countries and join their parents.

From Climate Change to Forced Migration

Countries such as Niger and Zambia have high rates of emigration, the main causes are lack of water supply, droughts, floods, etc.. In fact, a workshop on migration as a result of climate change has enabled organizations to revisit this phenomenon in their country and propose solutions. The emigration of these people very often exposes them to risk of being trafficked, i.e., slavery or prostitution of women.

From Immigration to Access to decent living conditions

The debate was rich on challenges related to the establishment and integration of African peoples in Europe. In fact, a workshop on “non-movement of people” allowed in a uncommon way to trace the path of migrants and this helped to draw attention to the difficulties that immigrants may encounter: unemployment, hunger, disease and often forced deportation from one country to another. Moreover, irregular migration is a major problem along the coast of Africa, many young people hoping for a better life take canoes and land on European shores. Moreover, other issues such as migration and containment barriers to access to European territory, evictions, decent work and employment legislation, the situation of refugee / migrant (s) in Europe, financial education to enhance entrepreneurship migrant (s), cultures, traditions and their relationship to migration, North-South trade union cooperation to support / organize migrant workers have been raised.

From Diaspora to Local Development

The issue of diasporas was raised by looking at migrants’ remittances and the impact of knowledge / resources / experiences transfer on local development in countries of origin.Moreover, the sharing of experiences from the African Diaspora must allow those who plan to migrate to have a realistic picture of what to expect upon arrival and be aware of the challenges they will face and the consequences of leaving behind them members of their family.

The 11th WSF Dakar 2011, by means of a series of structured and unstructured activities, has brought valuable contributions to the debate on migration in the context of a globalized world. Emphasis was placed on a fairly wide support and better adaptation to migration,not only by all stakeholders, without exception, but also and specifically under all its aspects, including those relating to human rights. Indeed, under the thematic Rights of migrants / migrant workers, forced migration, migration of minor children, immigration, emigration, freedom of movement, universal citizenship, etc.., the World Social Forum in Dakar has been held on the sidelines of the Social Forum on Global Migration (FSMM), the Dakar Forum and the Assembly of Migrants to Goree, where the World Charter of Migrants has been signed on February 11, 2011. In all its dynamism, the WSF has registered recommendations and aplan of actionthat will not leave policymakers indifferent, at the nation, subregional, regional and international levels as well as other CSOs. While leaving the forum, the participating organizations around the assembly meetings,  adopted new commitments and updated their agenda in order to set migration as a priority. Among the elements of this agenda:

  • Mobilization against the G8-May, Deauville, France
  • Mobilization against the G20-October in Cannes, France
  • Mobilization at the Euro-African Conference in November 2011, Dakar (Bridges Not Walls)
  • Preparation of the International Day of Migrants' Rights: December 18, 2011
  • Global Day of Action against racism and for human rights, equality and dignity of immigrant, refugee and displaced (Arci), December 18, 2011.Meeting on the universal passport: 2012
  • Convergence at the Earth Summit Rio +20 in 2012, in order for migrants to  defend their positionwhile the challenges for the future of our planet earth are being discussed. (The Bridges not Walls)
  • World Social Forum on Migration (WSFM), South Korea, 2012

Some leaders seem to understand the enormous challenge. In fact, the delegations from countries and other communities were impressed by the World Social Forum 2011 in Dakar and have vowed to pursue their efforts to transmit the demands of the population and their movements to debates and decision-making processes in their respective bodies.

The next big rendez-vous of the “World Social Forum” will be established soon and migration issues are yet to follow closely!

1 Emmaüs International, La CIMADE, ATTAC, Réseau des ponts pas des murs, La Charte mondiale des migrants, Secours Catholique, Arci, CGIL, Migreurop, Nalacc, Pateras de la Vida, i(dh)eas, Litigio Estratégico en Derechos Humanos, Boston May Day Committe, Federacion Estatal de asociaciones de inmigrantes y refugiados en España, SOLETERRE ONLUS, Prevención, Capacitación y Defensa del Migrante, PRECADEM, A. C., Mujeres Abriendo Caminos, Programa de Migraciones PCS CAMEX, Asociación de Familiares de Migrantes "Rumiñahui", Centro de Derechos Humanos del Migrante en Ciudad Juárez, Centro Feminista de Información y Acción, Foro Nacional para las Migraciones Honduras, UFCW, PCSConsejeria en Proyectos, Association AFVMC-Aide aux Familles et Victimes des Migrations Clandestines, Centro de Planificación y Estudios Sociales (CEPLAES), Association Beni Znassen pour la Culture, le Développement et la Solidarité (ABCDS), Association Senegalesa-Mallorquina, MIGRALAB, Arte y migraciones.