Stakeholders involved in the migration sector have met to share their perspectives on a cohesive implementation of the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular Migration (GCM) in Africa.
The purpose of the meeting was to review the GCM’s implementation, discuss pressing challenges, share good practices and make recommendations to the first Africa Regional Review of the Global Compact for Migration taking place on 31 August and 1 September. About 100 stakeholders, including members of local authorities, civil society, business, academia, human rights groups, media and humanitarian bodies, attended the meeting.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, said: “The GCM offers us opportunities to boost migration benefits for migrants as well as for origin, transit and destination societies. While its adoption is a milestone, the GCM’s implementation remains key.”
She added: “This meeting allows us to reflect on the status of the GCM’s implementation by African member States since its adoption in 2018 from stakeholders’ perspectives. I urge all of you to continue your active engagement in ensuring the GCM’s vision of safe, orderly and regular migration is achieved in Africa.”
The meeting consisted of two main activities with one focused on summary reports drawn from the four stakeholder consultations held since December 2020 while the other featured discussions on the GCM’s implementation progress, challenges and good practices in Africa.
In the reports and the discussion, stakeholders expressed that while advances have been made in implementing the GCM in Africa, the progress remains slow, with the COVID-19 pandemic undermining the momentum. They raised concerns over various aspects of migration, especially on human rights violations, border governance, corruption, access to basic services, trafficking, missing migrants, detention, forced return and reintegration.
Limited data, uneven commitment to the GCM, lack of legal identity and unawareness of regular migration pathways, stakeholders stressed, put migrants at greater risk and weakened better targeting of policies and programmes.
They outlined a range of practices which governments could replicate to meet the ambitious vision of the GCM. These included migrant labour permits, training of border officials as well as the role of human rights commission in advocating with governments on behalf of undocumented migrants.
Mr. Jonathan Prentice, Head of Secretariat of the United Nations Network on Migration (UNNM), said: “Today’s consultation is an opportunity to focus on what impact the GCM has achieved in Africa to date, but it is also vital to identify what challenges still remain to be overcome to realize this cooperative framework.”
Recognizing the challenges, stakeholders recommended more research into climate-induced migration, bilateral labour agreements and child protection, efforts to provide all migrants legal identity, partnerships for safe return, anti-discrimination laws, harmonized remittance market, accountability measures and enhanced consular services.
They identified a significant data gap in the sector, which could be addressed by national and local authorities investing in data collection to bridge the gulf between evidence and policy while using technology to share information for transnational cooperation.
A ‘whole of society’ approach
In 2019, 26.5 million people in Africa were migrants. They confront a spectrum of social and economic challenges across all sectors of society. For this reason, the GCM – a cooperative framework on international migration – mandates a whole of society to the implementation of its 23 objectives, designed to manage all aspects of migration.
Stakeholders, therefore, welcomed the meeting as well as earlier consultations, describing them as a “vital” avenue for non-state actors to inform the public arena of decision-making on migration.
Echoing their sentiments at the meeting, Mr. Charles Kwenin, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Regional Director for Southern Africa, said: “This [a whole of society approach] goes to show migration cannot be addressed by member states alone but instead it requires a cooperative and collaborative approach by States, UN agencies, civil society and other stakeholders."
“The GCM, in responding to the challenges and opportunities of migration as a global phenomenon, expresses the essential need for cooperation at all levels and sectors.”
Hosted by the Kingdom of Morocco, the meeting was organized by the UNNM in collaboration with the ECA, the IOM and the African Union Commission. A summary report from the multi-stakeholder consultation will feed into the intergovernmental Africa Regional Review next week.