We live in an era of unprecedented human mobility. Migration is growing at a higher pace than population growth rate. In a world population of 7.4 billion, more than 250 million are international migrants and an estimated of 750 million are internal migrants (DAES-UNDESA, 2015).
To meet the migration challenges, and to facilitate its proper governance, we should promote legislation contributing to the political participation of immigrants. In this regard, we face the need to develop, strengthen and improve mechanisms and spaces which will help migrant populations participate in public debates and in political decision-making. It is for many and good reasons to expand and strengthen existing mechanisms and spaces, but in this blog post we will address three:
- A human rights issue:
Immigrants have the right to political participation. The International Declaration of Human Rights sets out that every person across the world has, and must exercise, inalienable political rights. From a rights-based approach, we should promote legislation contributing to the political participation of immigrants to build a more inclusive society.
- Reciprocal benefits:
Some countries in the region have made progress by signing bilateral treaties, and through the principle of reciprocity, they ensure an equal treatment of citizens of both including their political participation rights. These agreements contribute to strengthening relations between two countries, and ultimately citizens in both countries benefit from that reciprocity.
- Inclusiveness enhance contributions of migration:
Migration will remain as the mega-trend of our century. Cities and municipalities will continue to receive the contributions of migrants. The scope of those contributions is conditional on the level of inclusion of migrants, who, as political actors, need a fair and a proper amount of political participation.
The political participation of immigrants should be promoted and supported both in their host and home countries. Host countries must develop options to increase the representation rate for immigrants in elected positions. For this reason, it is crucial for political parties to include migrants as candidates for elected office. It is also important to adopt and increase the scope of measures allowing foreign residents to vote in local and national elections in their receiving countries.
In fact, the “High Level Parliamentary Dialogue on Migration in Latin America and the Caribbean: Realities and Commitments towards Global Compact”, jointly organized by the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament (PARLATINO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) took place in Panama City on June 9-10, 2017. It was an opportunity to discuss the current situation and the future prospects on the political participation of immigrants based on the new reality of the world we live in.
This “Dialogue” will contribute towards the construction of a Global Compact for a Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants – September 19, 2016), which represents a major contribution to global governance of migration and an increasing coordination between Member States on international migration issues.
About the author:
Marcelo Pisani is the Regional Director of IOM for Central America, North America and the Caribbean. Mr. Pisani has 18 years of experience in project management, development of public policies, and in other areas related to fight poverty and the care of vulnerable populations in emergency situations. Previously he served as IOM's Chief of Mission in Colombia and Zimbabwe, and worked for the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). He is an architect of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.