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Mission News



04 DECEMBER 2007





NEW YORK—The stage is set for the hosting by the Philippines next year of the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development—an informal consultative process where member-states of the United Nations discuss ways to enhance the contribution of migration to development.  


The Philippine Mission to the United Nations said the Second Forum will be held in Manila in October 2008 and will focus on migrants, protection and empowerment for development.


As part of the preparations for the Philippine hosting, the Friends of the Forum will hold its first meeting in Geneva on 17 December, according to Ambassador Hilario G. Davide Jr., Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations.


Ambassador Davide said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Worker Affairs Esteban Conejos Jr. was at the United Nations recently for a briefing on Philippine preparations for the event.


In his briefing, Undersecretary Conejos said the Manila Forum can be expected to build on the outcome of the First Forum, which was held in Brussels on 9 to 11 July, and will focus on the human rights situation of migrants on the ground, both from the perspective of the country of origin and the country of destination.  


"The new issues to be taken up would be in line with the expectation that the perspective on the migration and development dialogue in the Philippines, as primarily a country of origin, would be different, or rather, complementary, to that of the First Forum in Belgium," he said.


Undersecretary Conejos cited as examples the Philippine Worker Centers that the Philippines established to act as shelters for abused Philippine migrants in every major area where they were located as well as the contracts between the Philippines and host governments that protected the rights and benefits of Philippine migrant workers.


"These are the kind of practices that would be discussed at the Second Forum," he said. "This is in recognition of that fact that the first line of protection of migrants belonged to the country of origin while the obligation to provide services is the responsibility of the destination country."


Asked to comment on the sensitivity of the migrant issue and what Governments could do about anti-migrant sentiments, Undersecretary Conejos said the Forum was an informal, consultative process precisely because the issue was so sensitive.  


He said the Forum enables Governments to learn about steps that could be taken to protect migrant workers, without having to conform to strict standards.   According to him, the process not only leaves Governments with the freedom to make their own arrangements but also eased concerns about ratifying complex instruments, such as a convention.   "Like a ripple in a lake, the effect of the process would spread and build," he added.


The Forum evolved from the 2006 High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development at the United Nations where governments had been asked to systematically discuss ways to enhance the contribution of migration to development.


Belgium took the lead in organizing the Forum that had developed into a State-led, informal, consultative process open to all UN member-states.   A total of 156 member-states took part in the First Forum, which came out with a list of 50 concrete recommendations centered on the consideration of how migration could best contribute to development from the perspectives of employment and remittances.  


According to the Executive Director of the First Forum, Régine de Clercq, the Ambassador for Migration and Asylum Policy of Belgium, the recommendations were voluntary steps that Governments could take to strengthen institutions for migrant affairs and reduce the cost of remittances, as examples.  


She said other concrete outcomes included a compendium of best practice on work migration, a guideline on ethical recruitment policies and recommendations for dealing with "brain drain and gain."


"The result of the Forum was an entirely new approach to migration," she added.  "By putting development at the center of the issue, a list of triple-win solutions had emerged in which everybody came out ahead, including receiving countries, countries of origin and the migrants themselves." ###




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