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Applying Old Remidies to New Global Challenges will Always Fail!


- Id like to thank my good friend John Bingham, and his colleagues for their invitation to participate in this panel dealing with the global governance for migration. - I am pleased to participate in this years GFMD Civil Society Program, and I wish you every success in finding consensus around specific and forward-looking recommendations, in an effort to prod governments into taking appropriate policy decisions. - When it comes to migration, all too many governments are preoccupied with two overriding issues: i) illegal immigrants, and ii) maintaining national policy control - While the rule of law and an orderly process are as crucial to any viable and sustainable migration policy --- as they are to any other public policy domain --the challenge for governments is to lift their sights beyond their single obsession with illegals. - Moreover, governments must move beyond an exclusive national approach, and begin to build an international framework for migration policy and decisionmaking. - Let me therefore share with you a few thoughts on the theme of migration governance.

Ushering in Global Governance

First, our Migration Governance gearbox is stuck in first gear.

- And this a serious problem because the new stretch of super highway that we are
now travelling on, in relation to migration policy, demands a much higher performing standard. - We desperately need to shift gears. - In other words, our political leaders and institutions must provide a coherent response and for that response to be effective, it must be global in context. - After all, global challenges require global solutions. - Migration is already a powerful and unmistakable sign of our globalized times. This is not about preparing for something that will or might happen in the future. This is very much about the here and now. - Migration now touches all lands and all peoples. The old world, characterized by sending and receiving countries, is just that --- the old world. - Today, migrants leave, enter, or transit through all nations --- big and small, rich and poor. The movement is South-North; North-South, and increasingly, SouthSouth. - As well, the integration of our communities and economic markets are deepening, bringing heightened pressures for the effective mobility of labor on an international level. - We cannot escape the reality --- migration has become a global phenomenon. - Indeed, we needed to shift yesterday.

- Yet, government responses and actions are largely national in scope.

Second, why is migration treated so differently from other global policy challenges? - After all, in our new world, going it alone is fast becoming the exception; the old way of doing business. - Today, cross border issues tend to be the shared concerns of all governments. - They are also the focus of dedicated multilateral institutions, whose mandate is to bring international management and policy direction to these issues. - Matters of international trade, labor, health, human rights, intellectual property, and the environment, are all such examples. - In short, these issues have the benefit of some semblance of global governance. - Governments jointly own the opportunities and the burdens, in order to develop more effective public policies, and advance the global common good. - Yet, migration is a glaring exception to this rule. - While there has been a recent increase in transnational efforts by governments, international organizations and civil society, substantively, little has actually changed. - At the end of the day, the political buck continues to stop with national governments and they continue to restrict themselves to national actions and initiatives.

- As a case in point, when I was the Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, there were no regular, dedicated meetings during the calendar year, where I could discuss the central issues of the day with fellow Ministers from around the world. Eighteen years later, despite revolutionary changes to human mobility, this is still regrettably the case. - And yet, when I later became Minister of the Environment and of International Trade, it seemed that I was meeting more with Ministers from all other countries than I was with my own fellow Canadian colleagues! The same international connectivity applies to Ministers of Finance, Defense, Health, Labor, and so on.

Third, there is no single, over-arching multilateral institution responsible for the directing migrations policy traffic. - Instead, the chore is scattered among some 14 different international agencies. - Imagine if international trade, global health, or human rights, for instance, were managed and governed by 14 different entities, rather than the WTO, WHO, UNCHR, respectively? It would be quite messy and unruly, right? - Well, why should migration policy accept a messy and unruly solution? How long should we wait before correcting this institutional dysfunction? - And what does a 14-headed leadership model really mean for global migration policy and decision making? - Frankly, it means that no one is in charge. - No one agency is responsible nor accountable for strategically shaping and guiding an international policy of migration.

- And the Global Migration Group, based here in Geneva, that was established by the former UN SG in an effort to better coordinate the policy globally, has yet to provide this global leadership, despite best intentions.

Finally, it is not an issue for national governments to cede sovereignty, as much as it is to reclaim their collective control of the migration reality. - The truth is that under an accelerating era of globalization, employers, migrant networks, agents, individual migrants, and yes, smugglers, have already taken things into their own hands, irrespective of national policies on admission and border control. - While governments may have won a number of battles against unauthorized migration, there is the much larger, ongoing war for better control of who enters, leaves, transits, and remains in our territories. - How did tens of millions of undocumented individuals, enter our different countries in the first place? And how does this movement continue, despite the implementation of even more conservative regulatory and legislative measures intended to stem these tides? - In other words, an improved management of migration internationally --- one that shares both the opportunities and challenges --- is really about countries and governments reclaiming political sovereignty and control, and exercising it collectively --- to the advantage of individual States, citizens, and migrants alike. - And collectively means just that. Building a new international framework is an obligation not just for some governments. Or, for just developed governments. - It implies that developing countries, as well as a number of developed nations who in the past only produced migrants, will now need to change and play policy catch up, given that increasing number of migrants are today knocking on their doors, as well.

- All nations must do their part, since they all now have a vested interest in steering the one boat they find themselves in together, to a safe harbour. Only then, will we develop an effective international response. - Only then will we come up with the global governance model that is missing.

In Closing
- Despite living in a global village, all politics remain local. - I therefore fully appreciate that elected representatives need to react to local pressures. - But, there is also an onus on the current generation of politicians to govern for the times. - And our times are global. - Our issues, like migration, are increasingly international in cause and effect. - Our international community needs greater collaboration, not less. - Cooperation must become the rule, and not the exception. - If governments are to rise to the occasion, leaders must recognize that they can neither talk about the forces of international trade, nor the challenges of world hunger, disease and terrorism, nor the dangers posed by climate change, nor indeed about global migration and developmentand then proceed to deal with them in an isolated fashion.

- Clearly, beyond addressing domestic priorities and expectations, our politicians must also exercise responsible, global political leadership. - Our local politics surrounding migration must find an accommodation with the urgent need to develop a global governance for migration. - Ignoring this call will only ensure that the politics surrounding migration will continue to get nastier and more divisive. - After all, merely applying the same old remedies to new global challenges will always fail.

The Honourable Sergio Marchi is a Special Advisor with Pace Global Advantage, a Canadian firm with offices in Toronto and Geneva. Mr. Marchi also teaches at the US Webster University Campus in Geneva, in the International Relations Dept. Formerly, he served as the Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Ambassador to the WTO and UN in Geneva; and as a Commissioner on the UN Global Commission on International Migration. _________________________________________________________________________________