“We are here for change” – GFMD Civil Society Days Statement 2012

Civil society leaders at global meeting point to co-responsibility with governments
for solutions in labour migration, rights and development

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius 22 November 2012- More than 800 representatives from civil society and governments from some 160 countries gathered in Mauritius this week to discuss changes needed in labour migration, protection of migrants, promotion of their rights and development. 

Leaders of non-governmental organizations, migrant and diaspora groups, trade unions, academia and the private sector joined ministers and senior officials of foreign relations, labour, interior, development, overseas assistance, commerce and other government offices together with representatives of UN and other international organizationsat the sixth Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Mauritius. In a “two plus two formula”, civil society led the first two days of the Global Forum meetings, followed by two days organized by governments, with a full morning of joint meeting—a “Common Space”—formally bridging the two. The programme of the Civil Society Days** is available here, the programme for the government days is available here.

Opening the joint portion of the meeting, the co-chairs of the Civil Society Days presented governments with a set of key recommendations, mechanisms for action and benchmarks to measure progress that civil society participants had developed together in the first two days. “We are here today not for ourselves”, the civil society statement said, “we are here for change” , stressing the protection of migrant rights especially in the areas of labour recruitment and humanitarian crisis situations. The full set of civil society recommendations and statement to governments is available here.

In a moving moment, the entire assembly of governments, international organizations and civil society stood in silence as civil society co-chair Clariste Soh Moube* of Mali invited the assembly to honor and reflect upon the deaths and disappearance of so many men, women and children crossing seas or deserts trying to save their lives or dreams.  On labour migration, Mauritian-born civil society co-chair George Joseph* of Sweden presented further recommendations for action, including mechanisms to better regulate recruitment agencies in order to put an end to exploitation and abuses of migrant workers and to end visa-systems tying migrants to particular employers. Greeting participants,  Sir Peter Sutherland, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative on Migration, stated: “We need to ensure the recognition of skills across borders, we need to make pensions portable, we need to train tomorrow’s global workforce and we need to do something urgently about the human price of irregular movement. […] and migration has to be integrated into the post-2015 development architecture”.

Appreciating Mr. Sutherland’s emphatic concern for stranded migrants, civil society called for more serious engagement with governments and international organizations to develop a framework for human-worthy assistance and protection for all migrants trapped in distress, including victims of violence or trauma in transit.

More than 100 civil society organizations roundly endorsed a 5 Point Plan for Strong Civil Society Involvement”  in the upcoming High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development (HLD), which the UN General Assembly is organizing in September, 2013 to set the agenda for the years ahead.  Omni-present in the 5-point plan and throughout the GFMD was the need to bring more development, development actors, and development policies into the equation, including ensuring migrants’ and migration’s rightful place on the global development agenda, as the Millennium Development Goals approach expiration in 2015. The 5-point plan is still open for the signatures of additional civil society organizations, and will further be presented at the World Social Forum on Migrations that meets in Manila the last week in November. The text is available here.


* Biographies of both civil society co-chairs are available here.

**The Civil Society activities of the 2012 Global Forum on Migration and Development are organized by the GFMD Civil Society Coordinating Office, under the auspices of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) in partnership with local partner Caritas Mauritius and a diversity of NGOs, labour organizations, migrants and migrant associations, members of the academic community, and the private sector.


The GFMD Civil Society Coordinating Office
c/o ICMC
Rue Varembé 1
Case postale 96
CH-1211 Geneve 20
Tel +41 (22) 919 1026
Fax +41 (22) 919 1048



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