First Meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development
9-11 July 2007, Brussels, Belgium
The first meeting of the GFMD was hosted by Belgium and organized 9-11 July 2007 in Brussels. The significance of the GFMD is attested to by the overwhelming government support for such a global consultative process at the HLD. UN Member States recognized the growing connections between migration and development, in particular the huge developmental benefits to be derived from more coherent, linked up and partnership-based migration approaches. Yet there was still a crippling lack of information and data and appropriate institutional structures and resources in many countries to achieve these; and importantly, there was no single, all encompassing global forum to bring together policy makers on these two critical issues. Some good practices were being tried in a piecemeal way by governments and international agencies around the world, and these needed to be more widely understood and adapted where appropriate; and more cooperative frameworks explored.
The GFMD thus builds on the achievements of the HLD as well as on the work and report of the Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM), and on the report of the UN Secretary General on International Migration and Development of 16 May 2006 issued at the request of the General Assembly. It was not intended to be part of the UN structure, but linked to it via the good offices of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on International Migration and Development. The Forum meetings take place in close consultation with the Special Representative.
The GFMD was conceived as an informal, non-binding, voluntary and government-led process, open to all UN member states. True to the principle of global inclusiveness, the Brussels meeting comprised a civil society day and two days of governmental dialogue in plenary and roundtable sessions. The meeting attracted more than 800 government participants from 156 countries, as well as 200 representatives of civil society.
The GFMD Belgium meeting also provided a space for consultations with the civil society to further the debate on migration and development. It invited the King Baudouin Foundation to organize a Civil Society Day prior to the government meeting. A delegation of 10 civil society representatives presented the report of the Civil Society Day at the opening session of the Government Meeting.
Outcomes of the Belgium GFMD
The first GFMD meeting in Brussels set in place the framing structure and mechanisms to achieve the goals outlined above, endorsed in Brussels under the ‘GFMD Operating Modalities’. These include: A Troika formed by the current, preceding and next Chair-in-office; a small Steering Group of governments to guide the process on an on-going basis; an open-ended Friends of the Forum consultative body to plan and discuss the agenda with all interested governments; an international Taskforce to assist the Chair-in-Office in coordinating all preparations, documents, roundtable teams and background papers etc.; a global network of GFMD focal points (both governments and relevant organizations); and a team-based approach among governments to prepare the Forum panel discussions.
The new, team-based Roundtable approach facilitated government cooperation in exploring good practices and their wider global applicability. The roundtable sessions were structured around the central theme of “Migration and socio-economic development”, as drawn from the priorities identified in a UN Member State-wide survey conducted by the Belgian Chair-in-office. The three roundtable themes were: a) Human Capital Development and Labour Mobility; b) Remittances and other Diaspora Resources, and c) Enhancing Policy and Institutional Coherence and Promoting Partnerships.
Following key conclusions were drawn about the first meeting and its preparatory process:
The GFMD established a new approach to migration by moving development to the centre of the migration debate; and enabled a shift of the migration and development paradigm by promoting legal migration as an opportunity for development of origin and destination countries, rather than as a threat.
- It paved the way for a longer-term common global vision on migration, based on the recognition of mutual benefits to origin and destination countries; and for restoring trust in migration systems worldwide.
- It opened the space for migration and development policy makers to reach their respective objectives more effectively by acknowledging and addressing the benefits and risks of migration for poor people and developing countries.
- It showed that sharing responsibilities between developed and developing countries can make migration work better for development and vice versa; and that development can lead to migration by choice and not by necessity.
- It provided a platform for discussing experiences, innovations and good practices, and for identifying concrete ways to ensure the positive contribution of legal migration to development.
- It created, through the country focal points, a vehicle for greater coherence and a more comprehensive approach to migration, development and other policies at national level.