Casablanca meeting of SI Committee discusses role of migrations in North-South relations

27-28 March 2006

A meeting of the Socialist International Committee on Migrations was held in Casablanca on 27-28 March 2006 under the main theme "The role of migrations in North-South relations".

The meeting, hosted by the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP, the SI member party in Morocco, was opened by Mohamed El Yazghi, First Secretary of the USFP and a Vice-President of the International, who took the opportunity to welcome the initiative by the Socialist International of having created this Committee and holding these discussions in Morocco, given the widespread nature of the phenomenon of migration and the need for the social democratic movement to give a fitting response to this global challenge, based on the principles of solidarity and respect for human rights promoted by the International. The USFP First Secretary recalled the responsibility of Morocco, given its geo-strategic position, with regard to migratory flows, and highlighted the holding of the Euro-African Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development in Rabat on 10-11 July this year. This was, he explained, a tripartite initiative by Morocco, Spain and France to bring an integrated response to the question of migration between Africa and Europe, and to which he hoped the Socialist International would lend its support.

Amalia García (PRD, Mexico), Governor of the State of Zacatecas and Chair of the Committee, then addressed the more than forty delegates of SI member parties from Africa, Europe and Latin America. After presenting comments on the phenomenon of migration at global level, she examined the specific case of Mexico — a country which receives migrants, as well as being a transit country and one from which migrants depart, principally to the United States. She gave special mention to the building of a wall on the Mexican-United States border, proposed by the US House of Representatives last December (H.R. 4437), which seeks to criminalise those without papers and impose punitive measures on them. The Committee decided to pay close attention to the outcome of the legislative process, so that the human and labour rights of migrants and their families are guaranteed. (Declaration of the Committee on the Legislative Debate in the United States Senate)

Nouzha Chekrouni, Minister for Moroccans Abroad and a Vice-Chair of the Committee, recalled the humanitarian crisis caused by the massive influx of hundreds of illegal immigrants from Sub Saharan Africa to Morocco in September and October 2005, and the current situation in Mauritania, which illustrated so dramatically the need to tackle the phenomenon urgently. The Minister reaffirmed that the Socialist International, in line with its principles of solidarity and justice, had a duty to make all parties concerned really aware of this issue, in order to come to a common dialogue and to deal with the deep-rooted causes of illegal migration, while rejecting a solely security based approach to this question.

The Secretary General of the SI, Luis Ayala, highlighted the relevance of the Committee’s work. While the phenomenon of migrations was not new, he said, it constituted one of the most pressing issues today for nations and the international community. Global institutions had examined this matter, particularly the United Nations, whose Global Commission on International Migration had issued its report in 2005. He went on to emphasise the SI’s role, which forms a platform for peoples from different cultures and realities, and which has the capacity to contribute effectively to developing partnerships between North and South and to give a more humane face to globalisation and to migration. This was in effect an issue which called on socialists to provide just and fair responses.

The participants in the meeting then underlined, during the course of the debate, the complex nature of migration, which on one hand contributes to social and economic development of countries, as well as to the opening up and the cultural enrichment of diverse communities, while on the other, its causes are also linked to a growing inequality between industrialised and developing countries, to poverty, armed conflicts and the violation of human rights in the originating countries. The Committee also took note that illegal migrants often lived in shocking conditions, with many being subjected to systematic exploitation by human traffickers, particularly women and children. In this regard, the delegates took the opportunity to reiterate the need, under all circumstances, to respect the human and labour rights of migrants. To this end, they recommended the acceleration of the process to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, adopted by the United Nations in 1990.

Concluding its work, the Committee adopted a Declaration reaffirming "its commitment to pursue its efforts to draw up a global strategy of the social democratic movement on migration in line with the socialist vision for a fairer world based on greater solidarity and a more humane society", and agreed, following a proposal by the Secretary General of the International, to actively contribute to the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development due to take place on 14-15 September 2006 in New York, and in connection with this initiative, to hold an SI round table on its eve. The Committee agreed to hold future meetings in Moldova, in Greece and Turkey, then in the Philippines and in Guatemala, to analyse migratory phenomena in those parts of the world.