German GFMD Co-Chair underscores GFMD’s links with ILO
20 March 2017, Geneva - Ambassador Götz Schmidt-Bremme of the Federal Foreign Affairs of Germany, representing the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) 2017-2018 Co-Chairmanship, discussed the GFMD’s links to the International Labour Organization (ILO) at the Government Group Meeting of the 329th session of the ILO Governing Body held on March 20 in Geneva.
Germany will host the Tenth GFMD Summit from 28 to 30 June 2017 with the overarching theme, Towards a Global Social Contract on Migration and Development. In this regard, Ambassador Schmidt-Bremme articulated that “the ILO has a critical role to play, given its experience in the promotion of decent work and social protection as well as its proven expertise in the governance of migratory processes.”
He highlighted four areas wherein the ILO’s engagement is of paramount importance to facilitate the positive contribution of migrants to sustainable and inclusive development in countries of origin, transit and destination: namely, remittances, portability of social benefits, safeguarding of norms/rights regarding labour migration ,and enhanced legal migration channels to prevent exploitation within the framework of irregular migration.
On remittances, the German Co-Chair believed that more than cost reduction, what is needed is the establishment of a reliable system that allows for effective money transfers worldwide. Germany has made progress on this front, including the development of financial regulations and launch of “fair transfer” (www.geldtransfair.de), the digital transfer apps and other smart transfer methods. But a continuing question for migration is how to focus on highly qualified migrants for highly qualified positions.
On portability of social benefits, Ambassador Schmidt-Bremme stressed that disparities between countries are enormous when it comes to social benefit systems. A pressing issue is how to deal with social benefit contributions paid for over many years that eventually cannot be used, either because the migrant has moved or the systems from migrant’s origin and destination are incompatible. On safeguarding of norms/rights, he saw as particularly important the ILO’s work in the promotion of respective protection standards and rights-based policies for the benefit of migrant workers, as well as in promoting access to host countries’ labour market for refugees and other forcibly displaced persons in order to achieve self-reliance. Finally, on enhanced legal migration channels, he appreciated ILO’s expertise in governing mobility processes that may help to curb irregular migration and at the same time tackle skills shortages in both destination countries and countries of origin through partnerships.
Given ILO’s renowned expertise and resources in these areas, the GFMD 2017-2018 Co-Chairs see ILO as an important actor during the forthcoming Tenth GFMD Summit in Berlin. ILO will participate in the GFMD Business meeting’s breakout session on fair recruitment which will include a panelist from the workers’ union.
Ambassador Schmidt-Bremme recalled that at the last GFMD Summit in Dhaka, ILO Director General Guy Ryder focused strongly on the link between the New York Declaration (UN Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, New York, September 2016), the Global Compact and the SDGs. He emphasized the importance of ensuring continuity and coherence with these broad global initiatives, and made reference to the centrality of the ILO’s recently endorsed principles and operational guidelines relating to fair recruitment and to the context of the GFMD agenda. He also mentioned that a discussion on migration will take place at the International Labour Conference in June 2017.