Six essential elements to make migration safe, orderly and regular

Six essential elements to make migration safe, orderly and regular

Migration connects countries, cities and communities. It follows long-standing mobility patterns or creates new ones as political, social and economic conditions change.  Migration reflects shared histories, responds to economic needs, and fosters cultural ties. It poses challenges and offers opportunities for both migrants and societies.

Around 258 million international migrants live in today´s world – around 3.4 percent of the total population.  Yet, migrants contributed USD 6.7 trillion – or 9.4 percent – to global GDP in 2015. That is 4 percent more than if they had stayed home.  Ninety percent of this economic benefit is captured by 25 countries receiving migrants.

Both high-skill and medium or low-skill migrants add to productivity.  As of 2015, foreign nationals had filed half of all patents in the United States where immigrants and their children have co-founded over 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies. In Saudi Arabia 9 out of 10 construction workers are foreign nationals and migrants providing care help women stay or get back to their jobs.

In 2017, migrants sent USD 466 billion to low-and-middle income countries – more than 3 times amount of official development aid.  Providing new opportunities for youth, international student mobility is up from around 3.96 million in 2011 to 4.85 million in 2016.

Despite the overwhelming positive nature of migration, serious challenges remain.  Among them are 25 million victims of forced labor worldwide20 percent of whom are exploited and abused as domestic workers, in factories, on farms and fishing boats and at construction sites abroad. Producing an economic return of USD 5.5 to 7 billion for organized crime, an estimated 2.5 million migrants were smuggled in 2016.  Since 2016, over 4,800 migrants lost their lives while trying to reach another country.

Determining whether and how many low-skilled workers, highly skilled professionals, family members, students or other categories of migrants should be admitted is an important sovereign process for every country. Some countries have been built on immigration, others are severely restricting it.  Either way, these decisions have far-reaching and often unintended consequences affecting a nation’s competitiveness, social fabric and cultural make-up, among others.

How can countries maximize the benefits of migration while minimizing its risks?  What tools do policy makers have at their disposal to make migration safe, orderly and regular?

First, adherence to three basic principles is crucial

Humane and orderly migration requires adherence to international standards - the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of individuals within a state’s territory and to do so without discrimination based on nationality, race, gender, religion or migration status.  

Migration is also not just a matter for interior and labor ministries but also one for social, health, educational and foreign ministries. The involvement of all sectors of government based on evidence ensures that migration policies advance countries´ broader interests and avoid a narrow focus with unintended consequences for both host society and migrants and their communities. For instance, discussions between interior, development and foreign ministries can make the reintegration of returnees more sustainable by focusing development efforts on migrant sending areas. The successful integration of migrants in host society is typically a longer-term endeavor requiring resources, innovative approaches and engagement by social, educational ministries and their counterparts in the local communities where migrants live.

Timely and accurate data on migration is a crucial element in combatting xenophobia and racism. To minimize prejudices, change stereotypes and counter sometimes wide-spread misinformation on migrants, evidence on all aspects of migration needs to be effectively communicated.

The transversal nature of migration also means that a wide range of actors including local authorities, employers, unions, civil society as well as migrants and their communities have a role to play in managing migration.  For this, partnerships are crucial. They broaden the understanding of migration and ensure comprehensive and effective approaches to migration´s social, economic, and cultural challenges.

Secondly, making migration safe, orderly and regular needs to consider some broader objectives.

For countries to reap the benefits of migration, their policies and practices need to advance the socioeconomic wellbeing of migrants and society.  Migration needs to be a win-win situation that fosters strong socioeconomic outcomes for society and migrants. For instance, fair and ethical recruitment reduces the risks of that migrants are trapped in debt bondage, supports local integration and provides economic and reputational benefits to companies.

By the end of 2017, persecution, generalized violence, or human rights violations forced 68.5 million individuals to leave their homes and seek shelter either within their own country or abroad. Natural disasters displaced 18.8 million people in 135 countries. Therefore, good migration governance needs effective ways to save the lives of displaced people, help them and their communities recover from man-made and natural disasters and put them on a solid path to sustainable development.

Ensuring that migration takes place in a safe, orderly and dignified manner requires to mitigate the inherent risks associated with the movement of persons, particularly the most vulnerable ones. This includes detecting and preventing irregular migration, including trafficking in persons and smuggling in migrants, strengthening immigration and border management as well as offering assistance to return voluntarily, facilitating legal migration through visa schemes and building inclusive public health services.

By adhering to these three principles and striving towards these three objectives, countries apply the Migration Governance Framework – in short MiGOF – which all IOM member states welcomed in 2015. To date, MiGOF is the only internationally agreed concept the defines and measures progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals’ target 10.7: “Facilitate orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”. 


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.