Thursday, October 16, 2008

GFMD 2, here we come!

by Colin Rajah

Its been a while since we've posted on this NNIRR travel blog, so for avid readers (yes, both of you!) we sincerely apologize for the sensory drought! Nonetheless, this month we are on the cusp of one of the most critical developments in international migrant rights, so we thought it an opportune time to revive our Migrant Diaries.

As many of you know, the appointment of Peter Sutherland (yes, the same Peter of the WTO - World Trade Organization and BP - British Petroleum fame) as Special Representative for Migration & Development to the UN Secretary-General a couple of years ago, was like a slap in the face for migrant rights movements worldwide. While it escape media scrutiny here in the U.S., Sutherland's placement in this newly-created post indicated a downward era for the human rights of migrants, given his reputation for espousing free-marking neoliberalism, disdain for communities and civil society involvement, and love for closed-door governmental negotiation.

Sutherland's first initiative was to call for a Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), which would be a gathering of governments OUTSIDE of the UN framework to discuss matters related to migration policies, but placing it within a trade/aid context. Curious observers will wonder why a high-ranking UN representative would advocate for the creation of a non-UN forum. The reason is simple -- the UN, in spite of its many flaws, has a certain level of openness to it, democratic protocol, and so-called civil society participation, even if it is often tokenized. Outside of the UN, Sutherland could author a new formation without such tiresome procedures according to his desires.

This month, the 2nd GFMD will take place in Manila, the Philippines, from October 27th - 30th. Yes, there will be an official civil society forum on the 27th and 28th, but the process for demands, declarations and even deliberations to trickle up to the government meeting is questionable at best. If its anything like last year's, community and movement representatives will have to be sitting next to World Bank reps and recruiting agents, among the "civil society".

But this year, the movements are responding, and in a big way! A broadbased gathering of various sectors and movements including migrant community groups, unions, human rights organizations, women's associations etc., is being internationally organized as a "parallel event" to the GFMD, offering a space for Social Forum-style workshops, meetings, forums, cultural events, marches, rallies etc., and culminating in a global declaration to be submitted to the governments. Called the People's Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights (PGA) it will be held prior to, and during the GFMD, kicking off on October 22nd and going straight through the 30th. Details about the PGA can be found at:

NNIRR is excited and honored to be part of this mega international mobilization, and look forward to working with our other US members and allies, as well as our international partners from all regions of the world. Not only will the PGA offer an incredible networking opportunity among like-minded migrant rights organizations, but the chance to collaborative advocate against more repressive and explotative migration policies that will take advantage of communities displaced by violence, militarism, economic policies and such, and funnel them into an ever-increasing pool of disposable migrant labor for the global economy.

We will be reporting from Manila beginning next week, and will also bring you video clips directly from the workshop rooms and the streets of Manila. Please subscribe to our video channel at:

Talk to you soon from Manila.

1 comment:

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