Putting people first on the migration agenda: Socialist International meeting in Manila

21-22 September 2007

Members of the Socialist International active in the SI Committee on Migrations, together with representatives from a broad range of international, regional and non-governmental organisations working on migration, discussed key issues at the centre of the global debate on this subject at a meeting of the Committee on 21-22 September. The meeting was specially convened in Manila, the capital of a country with one of the largest number of migrant workers abroad.

Continuing the Committee's discussions on migration from different regional perspectives, in preparation for a report to be presented to the next SI Congress, participants examined from the view of the Asia-Pacific region an agenda which focused on Migration and Development, The Impact of Female Migration, Irregular Labour Migration in a Globalised Economy, and Migration Issues on the International Agenda.

Chaired by Amalia Garcia, Governor of the state of Zacatecas, Mexico, (PRD), and Chair of the Committee, the meeting was opened by the SI Secretary General Luis Ayala with a presentation of the work of the International on this important question, followed by an address by the Chair on the issues on the agenda and by opening remarks on behalf of the hosts by Norberto Gonzales, Leader of the PDSP and Secretary for National Security, and by Loretta Rosales from the leadership of the Akbayan Party.

Taking part in the debates alongside the SI members, were representatives from the International Organisation for Migration, IOM; the International Trade Union Confederation – Asia Pacific, ITUC-AP; the Migrant Forum in Asia ; the Asian Migrant Centre ; the Center for Migrant Advocacy ; the Athika Overseas Workers and Communities Initiative ; the Development for Women Network, DAWN ; the Scalabrini Migration Centre ; the Kanlungan Centre Foundation – Centre for Migrant Workers ; the Philippine Migration Research Network, PMRN ; the Filipino Domestic Workers' Union, FDWU ; the KAKAMMPI Association of overseas Filipino workers and their families, and the organisation Unlad Kabayan.

Recognising that migration is one of the key features of today’s global, political, social and economic life, the Committee discussed first of all, the relationship between migration and development, noting that if properly managed migration can contribute to the development of both countries of origin and of destination. On this theme, great emphasis was placed in the debates on the need to strengthen the rights of migrants and of including these rights in the development agenda, and a number of recommendations were agreed. The impact of female migration received particular attention during the discussions and a series of proposals and initiatives were put forward. Irregular migration and the need for policy responses that properly address its root causes were examined, together with related legislation, procedures and criteria to deal with this issue. Human rights and the rights of migrants were placed at the centre of a ‘people first’ approach to migration and the responsibilities of states were highlighted, as was the need for cooperation among all stakeholders in migration, among them, governments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, civil society and the migrants themselves. The results of the meeting are included in the Manila Declaration which summarises the debates and details a series of proposals and initiatives agreed by the Committee.

The next meeting of the Committee will be held in early 2008 in the United States of America.