Migration seen through a Diversity Lens

Discussing migration is without a doubt incredibly important, nonetheless we should never forget to also analyze the way in which we view migration.

When we look at people around us, we can see infinite diversity; however, when we think about migrants, the first thing that comes to our mind is the image of a “young man, mestizo, and heterosexual”. We must therefore put an end to the idea that migration is something homogeneous. We have to realize, that the diversity we see around us is a reflection of migration considering that the diversity of people around us is the same that makes up migration.

By understanding that migration flows are dynamic, changing, and diverse, we will be able to understand that the needs of people tangled up in this system are all different.

As an example; among the 147,370 repatriated migrants from Mexico in 2016 there were more than 34,000 children and adolescents, including 2,015 unaccompanied or children separated from their families aged between 0 and 11. This case about migrant children, helps us to understand how different the profiles of people needing specific care assistance are. Keeping this premise in mind, we must consider the need for differentiated care measures for every individual migrant profile. As a result, there is a need to analyze migration issues and develop laws or regulations which take the broad range of profiles and protection needs into account as well as, attention and assistance needs. 

One recommended tool can be found in the “IOM specialized course on migrant children” which addresses the many "lenses for analyzing diversity on migration". The following lenses allow us to “gain a better insight” on the needs and the differences of each migrant group.

Human rights lens: puts migrants at the core of our actions and priorities, acknowledging them as rights-holders.

Gender lens: highlights gender inequalities in our societies in order to design strategies geared towards/aimed at reducing them.

Diversity lens: helps us understand that any person’s life experience has uniquely shaped their sexual orientation and identity. Despite of these individuals representing a minority (not being binary or heterosexual) their realities of inequality and discrimination must be taken into consideration.

Interculturalist lens: enables us to realize that other cultures have a different understanding of the world. They also allow us to address those cultures in a respectful and empathetic manner.

The best interests of the child lens: as all human beings, children and adolescents are rights-holders. Depending on their maturity/age, they have different possibilities to exercise them – for instance, with assistance - but all decisions made for them must aim at their best interests.

Participation lens: making decisions based on a child’s best interest doesn’t mean putting the child’s opinions aside. It is much rather shows the need of them being informed and involved in the decision making process, so that they can understand the impact that different options can have on their future.

Progressive autonomy lens: we now recognize that migrants are not a homogenous group – neither are children and adolescents. Their background and maturity is what makes them so unique, which is why care assistance must be based on their particular situation.

The last three lenses are, in fact, fundamental principles of the Child Rights-based approach. However, I wanted to portray them as a part of this analogy so that but those of us, working with migrant children, can integrate all of the above described lenses into our work  to improve our capacities to identify the needs of this population.


About the author:

Alex Rigol Ploettner trabaja actualmente para la OIM como Promotor Local en Tenosique, Tabasco, México. Anteriormente, se desempeñó en materia de derechos humanos en la  Ciudad de México desde la sociedad civil, así como en materia económica en Guatemala con el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo -BID- . Es politólogo por la Universidad de Barcelona (UB) con una maestría en Relaciones Internacionales del Instituto de Barcelona de Estudios Internacionales (IBEI). 

Responding to hate speech against migrants in social media: What can you do?

Responding to hate speech against migrants in social media: What can you do?
Categoria: Migrant Protection and Assistance
Autor: Guest Contributor

"We all have to remember that hate crimes are preceded by hate speech." This is how Adama Dieng, UN's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, starts the Stopping Hate Speech video. "We have to bear in mind that words kill. Words kill as bullets", he continued.

To speak about hate speech it is necessary to refer to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The article stresses the importance of freedom of expression, but it also calls attention to the responsibilities that come with it. 

The United Nations has recently launched the "UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech", to strengthen UN actions that address the causes of hate speech, and the impact this discourse has within societies. Among other measures, the strategy includes monitoring and analyzing data, using technology, and engaging with new and traditional media. It also encourages more research on the relationship between the misuse of the Internet and social media for spreading hate speech, and the factors that drive individuals towards violence.

Just like the UN must assume responsibility, traditional media oulets also face challenges in guaranteeing that the information they offer on migrants is conscientious and data-based (here are some recommendations on how to do this).

But beyond these institutional responsibilities, the reality is that thousands of people publish hate filled content on their social media every day, sometime explicitly calling for violent actions against migrant populations and other vulnerable groups. What can each of us do to fight back against this content?

  • Speak up against hate: Silence and apathy can be taken as acceptance. Comments on social networks are more than just words, and should not be seen as harmless, especially when social networks are a source of information for migrants and contribute to their experiences. According to the Department of Justice of the United States, "insults can escalate to harassment, harassment can escalate to threats, and threats to physical violence." Intervening assertively is important both in the digital world and in face-to-face situations. However, it is necessary to assess the risk in each context to avoid dangerous situations.
  • Create positive content: To counteract the weight of hate speech, it is necessary to create and share empathetic information. According to Cristina Gallach, High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, to combat this problem, we must present images that appeal to the best of us, and focus on powerful and universal messages that unite us through our shared values.
  • Avoid sharing sensational videos and photos: Even when it is to criticize this type of content, sharing it will increase traffic to the channels and users that broadcast negative media.
  • Report on the platform: Each social network has its own guidelines on which content is acceptable or not not. While there are teams dedicated to verify this information, in many cases it is necessary to report it for it to be seen. Facebook continually checks if there are new vulnerable populations that should be included in their protected categories, and on previous occasions, migrants have fit within this group. According to the Facebook hard questions blog:

"When the influx of migrants arriving in Germany increased in recent years, we received feedback that some posts on Facebook were directly threatening refugees or migrants. We investigated how this material appeared globally and decided to develop new guidelines to remove calls for violence against migrants or dehumanizing references to them — such as comparisons to animals, to filth or to trash. But we have left in place the ability for people to express their views on immigration itself."

There is a whole discussion about whether social media companies are the ones who should define, in their own platforms, what constitutes freedom of expression and what constitutes hate speech, but that is material for another blog. Here you can see what kind of content to report in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

  • Report to the authorities: When there are personal threats to the physical integrity or the lives of others, it is time to report the situation to the competent authorities to intervene. Since the digital world moves faster than changes in laws, there may be "holes" in the regulations that will hinder intervention. Documenting hazardous materials through screenshots and collecting as much information as possible about the aggressor before they close their account will be useful for the reporting process. Platforms and companies can also be reported if they spread violent content. For example, a few months after the massacres in two mosques in Christchurch (New Zealand), the Australian government approved new legislation against spaces that do not quickly eliminate "violent and abominable material".

“We need to use the verb to become a tool for peace, a tool for love, a tool for increase social cohesion”, said Adama, later in the video. Let’s speak up against hate speech.