On July 15, 2013, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly convened representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), the private sector, and other stakeholders to provide concrete and specific input to UN Member States on the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (HLD) through informal interactive hearings. The hearings aimed to identify concrete measures to strengthen coherence and cooperation at all levels, with a view to enhancing the benefits of international migration for migrants and countries alike and its important links to development, while reducing its negative implications. The hearings specifically followed the same thematic agenda of the four upcoming HLD roundtables: (a) labor and mobility; (b) rights and protection; (c) human development and diaspora action, and (d) migration, governance and partnerships.
In an effort to include a discussion on migration and development through the more expansive lens of human security, CMS and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) organized a side event entitled, “Human Development, Human Security and Migration.” Fr. Leonir Chiarello, Executive Director of the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN), moderated the discussion and introduced the featured panelists: Donald Kerwin, Executive Director of CMS; Lucas Benitez, Co-Founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW); and Michele Klein Solomon, Permanent Observer of IOM to the UN.
Mr. Kerwin began the discussion by briefly tracing the historical roots of the “human security” concept and linking the role of civil society in meeting human security needs. Often more well-situated as representatives of the particular or broad interests of their communities than other stakeholders, civil society has the capacity to: inform and mobilize public opinion in a constructive way; educate the public and policymakers that rights represent a moral claim to a shared good that benefits all; play an indispensable role in instilling the cultural, moral and spiritual values that give people’s lives meaning and that help inform their choices; and inform, complement and partner with states, as well as hold them accountable. Civil society groups can also supply the local input, leadership and ownership which are crucial to the success of relief and development projects.
Speaking further to the effectiveness of local efforts, Mr. Benitez shared the work of community-based CIW which composes a membership of mainly Latino, Mayan Indian and Haitian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the State of Florida. The organization advocates for, among other things: fair wages, better and cheaper housing, stronger laws and enforcement against those violating workers’ rights, the right to organize, and an end to forced labor. While acknowledging that international actors have helped improve the treatment of migrants, Mr. Benitez stressed the importance of corporate cooperation in making palpable change for migrant workers’ daily lives. He shared the examples of CIW’s worker-led Campaign for Fair Food and Fair Food Program which successfully resulted in agreements with fast food chains, food service providers, and supermarkets to abide by a set of standards ensuring improved wages and working conditions.
In her presentation, Ms. Klein Solomon underscored IOM’s human-centered approach to migration in order to develop best practices and produce sustainable outcomes for all involved. Highlighting three of the ten UN Trust Fund for Human Security projects implemented by the IOM, she shared how IOM was working with civil society to address domestic violence and human trafficking in Moldova, assisting pastoralist groups under threat by climate change in Kenya, and improving protection of vulnerable migrants in transit to and within Mexico. Ms. Klein Solomon concluded by advancing for a more human narrative in migration.
The HLD will take place on October 3-4, 2013 at UN Headquarters in New York.
The following links provide more details on the HLD , the June 15 hearings and other informational materials: