participation in the GFMD 2017 Civil Society Days

12.09.2017 / Pascal Fendrich & Peter Aeberhard, coordinators

The four-person delegation comprised representatives of two member organizations and of its secretariat, namely: Awa N’Diaye (Espace afrique international), Hamdija Kocic (Matica BIH), Peter Aeberhard and Pascal Fendrich ( secretariat). The Global Compact on Migration (GCM) constituted the central item on the agenda of this year’s GFMD, as consultations on the Compact started in April and will close in November 2017. Half way through this Global Compact process, exchanges within civil society and with participating states constituted a first “reality check” as to what sort of agreement can be expected in Autumn 2018 as an outcome of member states’ negotiations.

Still, the GFMD 2017 highlighted a large diversity of expectations and a possible gap between civil society and UN member states’ positions on the outcome of the GCM. The compact emerges as an attempt to better cope with today’s migration realities, better protect the human rights of migrants and to advance on the promotion of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Discussions nevertheless show a tendency to see UN member states’ negotiations focus on migration management rather than good governance or conditions for improved contribution of migration to sustainable development. The compact should also be geared towards implementation and many civil society voices advocate in this context for the outcome document to do more than simply restate existing rights and “manage flows”, but promote modalities and principles to ensure that fundamental rights of migrants are effectively protected and their positive contribution facilitated.

In the end the Global Compact may result in a rather flexible, non-binding document, a call for action to be adapted to national and local realities. It is however critical that the agreement contains mechanisms for monitoring and reporting and that national implementation agendas are developed thereafter. The hybrid nature of the 2015 Paris Declaration could serve as a source of inspiration in this respect.

The GFMD 2017 discussions echoed once again that the GCM constitutes a new and important step (and not the end) of a longer term process. Following the establishment of the GFMD and the High Level Dialogue (HLD), and the adoption of the SDGs, it definitively brought the topic on the international agenda, underlining the necessity for improved protection while validating the close linkages between migration and development. For all these dimensions, it emphasizes the necessity of multi-stakeholder and cross-sector dialogue and collaboration for maximizing the potential impact of migration on sustainable development. formulated its priorities for the Global Compact in a short policy brief [] which was discussed with representatives of the Swiss Government a first time in May.

In Berlin a critical contribution of the focused on promoting discussions about the “multi-stakeholder” dimension of the process also on national level. Continuing from the side event organized in the 2016 Civil Society Days in Dhaka, facilitated several exchanges on the role and potential of national civil society platforms in the Global Compact process consultations and beyond. The platform co-organized with the university of Maastricht a pre-Civil Society Days discussion and a side event gathering representatives of other CSO national networks to learn from one another’s strategies and exchange on the role we can play in defining a global compact and participating in its implementation.  In this context, participants called for a multi-stakeholder approach to be effectively promoted in all countries and to be continued at national and local levels for coordinated and actual implementation of the GCM.  In this respect, the concept of a “national compact” on M&D was discussed and promoted as a modality for extending the GCM multi-stakeholders spirit at national level. A national compact on M&D could imply a framework for dialogue gathering around the table all the actors that matter (government representatives, CSOs, the private sector, etc.) and would allow translating the objectives of the global compact into national contexts in a transparent manner and in a way that facilitates active cross-sector collaboration. Such a mechanism would also constitute an ideal framework to monitor and discuss progress on the implementation of the compact at national level [see the full video of the Berlin side event on strategies of national CSOs platform to influence the Global Compact: ]

The idea of such a national framework for discussion and collaboration on the compact at national level could be proposed as a modality/mechanism to be included in the Global Compact for supporting its implementation. The idea was repeated on the occasion of the closing panel focusing on national strategies for implementation of the GCM.  No matter the depth and legal formalization of the principles contained in the outcome document of the Global Compact, a national and cross-sectoral framework will be necessary to mobilize and coordinate all relevant stakeholders for implementing the Global Compact and moving into the next stages of collaboration on M&D.


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Related resources:

The policy brief:

And the two videos: