Opening Remarks by Mr. Habib El Malki Speaker of the House of Representatives At the International Symposium on: "The Role of Economic and Social Councils, Similar Institutions and African Parliaments in Tackling New Migration Challenges"> 30/10/2018
Mr. President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council,
Honorable Speakers of African National Parliaments,
Distinguished Presidents of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions,
Distinguished Representatives of International Organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to meet you on the land of the Kingdom of Morocco, and am grateful to you for having kindly accepted our invitation to attend this symposium and discuss a key issue, not only for the international community, but also for decision-makers, legislative and executive branches and public opinion throughout the world, namely the question of migration.
And while I am paying a tribute to our dear friend Nizar Baraka, the Chair of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council; and to its members and Secretary General; and while I am paying homage to the economic and social councils, and to similar institutions, at the African Union, I would like to emphasize the growing importance of our forum. The reason for this is that this latter gathers representatives from the legislative authorities and what I call the consultative authorities which both play a major role in the edification and consolidation of democracy on constructive and positive consensus.
We are meeting in this international symposium to discuss and exchange views on the role of economic and social councils, similar institutions and parliaments in proposing solutions and rising to the challenges posed by this phenomenon. Indeed, we believe that this global phenomenon and the acute challenges and issues it is bringing to the fore require collective, objective and composed reflection. Such a reflection should help us come up with effective, practicable outputs that reduce the impact of the phenomenon, particularly through proposals for the promotion of a new culture to serve as the basis for the formulation of open, inclusive and tolerant policies.
May I add that this is precisely the objective which informs the policy of the Kingdom of Morocco in dealing with the phenomena of migration and asylum-seeking. It was not by chance that the international community chose Morocco to host, next December, the Global Forum and the Intergovernmental Conference for the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. After having been a transit country, Morocco has become a destination country for many migrants. This has been facilitated, in particular, by the new migration policy Morocco has been applying over the past five years. It is a bold, proactive policy that takes into account not just the human dimension, but also brotherly bonds and the duty of solidarity. It sees migration as an enriching phenomenon – a means for interaction and constructive mingling. Our migration policy seeks to enable migrants to enjoy their basic rights. The reason my country is doing this, despite its limited resources, is because we want to live up to a longstanding Moroccan tradition of hospitality, inclusiveness and coexistence.
2017 and 2018 have been truly beneficial years as far as migration in Morocco is concerned. It was during that period that His Majesty King Mohammed VI - may God assist him - was named African Union Leader on the Issue of Migration. Clearly, this was a tribute not only to Morocco’s migration, asylum and integration policy - which His Majesty was keen to launch and is eager to see through - but also to His Majesty's approach and vision concerning the phenomenon. Later this year, the representatives of the international community will meet in Marrakech to adopt the broadest compact ever on migration.
Distinguished Speakers and Presidents,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Migration has been at the center of the public political debate, both in the countries of origin as in host countries. Many political actors place the issue high on their agendas and electoral platforms. However, some political parties and governments have turned migration and migrants into a scapegoat to justify the issues and crises plaguing certain societies.
Regrettably, after having been a human movement and a dynamic process of interaction which enriches cultural exchanges and creates bridges between human communities, migration is nowadays blamed for the problems and challenges facing host countries. Thus, migration is wrongly linked to security challenges, terrorism, increasing unemployment and rising public spending on social services. Worst still, migration - both legal and illegal - is instrumentalized to appeal to voters. Migrants are used for scaremongering purposes to serve political and electoral ends through a discourse based on introversion and intolerance – a discourse which not only glorifies xenophobia, but is also exploited to pass legislation that restricts human mobility, particularly in a context characterized by the perils of terrorism and extremism.
We are in the process of restructuring - not to say revolutionizing - the culture of liberation and coexistence, which has been the cornerstone of contemporary democracies, given the institutional and moral values underpinning it and the gains it permitted in terms of human rights. The surge in xenophobic and racist rhetoric in a number of well-established democracies and economic powerhouses has translated into a rejection of the other, contrasting starkly with the nature of the international context and with the fundamental pillars underpinning international relations, which are based on openness. While the closure of borders to migrants remains a key component of the political platforms of certain political parties, the markets of these migrants’ countries of origin and their raw materials constitute a political goal commonly pursued by governments, competing political forces and pressure groups. This is an odd and paradoxical situation: on the one hand, there is a call for absolute freedom of trade and, on the other, borders are being closed to the free movement of people.
We firmly believe that stemming migrant flows cannot be achieved by erecting walls or closing borders, but by dialogue and cooperation, and by addressing the root causes of the phenomenon. Migrants who risk their lives in the jungle and at sea do so out of necessity. They need jobs that preserve their dignity, or perhaps they need the security they have lost as a result internal or cross-border conflicts, or because the state in their home country has ceased to exist and chaos has been allowed to prevail, or because they need to secure livelihoods once drought or floods wreak havoc in their farming land and destroy their source of income.
Given these challenges, parliaments and multilateral parliamentary organizations as well as social and economic councils have a major responsibility, which is to advocate for peace, stability, security, the settlement of disputes through peaceful means and climate justice for all, especially for Africa. Indeed, our Continent is bearing the brunt of climate disruptions that are not of the making of its countries or peoples. In this regard, parliaments and parliamentary organizations should unremittingly urge the international community to fulfill the commitments made at the two climates summit meetings, in Paris 2015 and Marrakech 2016. In parallel, it is necessary to correct misrepresentations about migration and to expand the base of states, political organizations, social movements and opinion makers who believe in the advantages, benefits and added value of migration. Contrary to the stereotyped image circulated about them, migrants, after having contributed in the past to building the economies of host countries, are today contributing to these countries’ advancement and prosperity. Among migrants, there are scholars and top scientists as well as farm workers and laborers doing jobs shunned by native workers. They are writing success stories in academia and science as well as in sport and cultural fields.
Because migrants are often actively engaged workers making intellectual and scientific contributions, migration should no longer be linked to terrorism, violence and extremism. This is a key challenge to which we should seek to rise.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We belong to a continent in which the issue of migration is particularly important; despite the fact that migration from Africa to other continents is small in terms of numbers. As His Majesty King Mohammed VI pointed out in his Message to the 5th AU-EU Summit, held in Abidjan on 29 November 2017, “African migration is not mostly intercontinental. It is primarily intra-African: out of every five African migrants, four remain in Africa. Irregular migration does not predominate; it accounts for a mere 20% of international migration. Migration does not impoverish host countries: 85% of migrants’ earnings remain in host countries” (end of quote from His Majesty’s Address).
However, Africa needs to ensure human resource development and to bring about all conditions required for the emergence of our Continent and for the optimal use of its assets and resources. It should facilitate human mobility which is beneficial to African countries, keep scientists in their home countries and think carefully about the cost the brain drain represents for Africa. In this regard, there is a shared responsibility within the community of nations, particularly with respect to the transfer of technology and investment and capital flows to Africa, in accordance with the win-win approach His Majesty the King has been advocating. Having overcome a number of issues over the past decades, and considering the current context of democratic transition, Africa should have the means for the promotion of productive development that creates jobs and preserves people’s dignity. This is a key challenge to which we must rise as Africans, first and foremost, but also through resolute international support.
Luckily, there are members of the international community who understand migrants’ conditions and deal with migration from both a historical and humane perspective, through the adoption of inclusive policies. During large-scale movements of people in recent years from the Middle-East and North Africa - especially from Syria - some European Union countries - though not many - demonstrated real wisdom which we rarely see in the current international context. Germany, which co-chairs the Global Forum on Migration and Development alongside Morocco, adopted inclusive policies and applied, together with other key European powers, humanitarian approaches that have been praised by international public opinion.
Distinguished Speakers and Presidents,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A realistic approach to the migration phenomenon should not overlook a number of factors, including the demand for labor in host countries – a demand which is often met through irregular, even illegal methods, exposing migrants to exploitation and denial of basic social rights. This includes overlap (confusion?) between illegal migration and certain forms of non-organized crime - such as terrorism, trafficking in human beings and drugs - which constitute a serious infringement of migrants’ rights.
Against this general backdrop, surely, closing borders will not be the solution. Instead, a reflection should be engaged on how to regulate migration, tackle issues relating to migrants’ conditions and guarantee their basic rights.
The international community should endeavor to get to the roots and causes of migration. To that effect, we should remain faithful to the Paris Cop 21, and Marrakech Cop 22 engagements. On the other hand, the international community should set and implement an urgent action plan for the development of Africa. To reach that purpose, economic and social dynamics are required for the sake of integrating the African youth who aspire to better living conditions. In parallel line with this, efforts are to be made in order to address the situation faced by some southern and eastern Mediterranean countries . In these zones the downfall of the state and its aftermath, sectarianism and chaos have pushed hundreds of thousands to leave their homelands and seek refuge elsewhere.
At another level, we should adopt a minimum of coordination and solidarity between the countries that represent a land of transit for immigrants, especially the South Mediterranean countries, the purpose being to institute and implement policies as well as social, and humanitarian approaches which purpose to face human trafficking syndicates and other forms of organized crimes.
At the level of our continent, we should accelerate the pace of development, reduce social and regional disparities, combat marginalization and exclusion. We should also consolidate the rule of law and institutions, just as we should promote democracy, facilitate the settlement of conflicts, for the democracy build up constitutes a sine qua non condition for social integration and coherence which, in turn, lead to the mitigation of immigration. We, therefore shall have to bear in mind the dialectical link between this structure and that phenomenon.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today’s symposium is preparatory to the United Nations Global Forum on Migration, to be held in Marrakesh, in about a month from now, and which will be preceded by an international parliamentary meeting on the same subject, to be hosted by the Moroccan Parliament, in collaboration with the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Our most cherished hope is for the Marrakech Summit to be a watershed in dealing with migration and related issues, paving the way to an open, progressive and solidarity-based approach. Just as Marrakech saw the setting up of the World Trade Organization which paved the way for the freedom of international trade as we know today, and from which many peoples around the world have benefited, our hope is that the international community would adopt, in Marrakech, next December, a global compact on migration that takes into account dimensions relating human aspects, solidarity, human rights and economic and social well-being. We hope this compact will pave the way for a new approach and a new culture attitude in dealing with the above issues.
Thank you for your kind attention.