Inter Press ServiceGlobal – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 19 Dec 2018 06:39:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.8 The Arduous Search for Dignity Through Integration and a Pay Checkhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/arduous-search-dignity-integration-pay-check/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=arduous-search-dignity-integration-pay-check http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/arduous-search-dignity-integration-pay-check/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 21:20:19 +0000 Sejjari Mehdi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159326 One of the most common words used by speakers during the Global Compact on Migration was “dignity”—granting migrants the dignity they deserve. As with any advocacy, there is a danger a word can lose meaning through overuse. But on the streets of Morocco the same word means a lot to migrants looking for work. And […]

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Migrants on a street in Casablanca, Morocco. Courtesy: Alié Dior Ndour

By Sejjari Mehdi
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

One of the most common words used by speakers during the Global Compact on Migration was “dignity”—granting migrants the dignity they deserve. As with any advocacy, there is a danger a word can lose meaning through overuse. But on the streets of Morocco the same word means a lot to migrants looking for work. And when they find it—both work and dignity—it can alter the entire migration equation. 

“Despite the difficulties I encountered at first, being in an irregular situation, I am working today in a private communications company after an operation launched by the Moroccan authorities to give residency permits to tens of thousands of immigrants living in the country illegally,” says Ahmadou, a Nigerian migrant, who has been living in Morocco for five years.

At first, he was all set on reaching that supposed El Dorado for so many migrants: Europe. But now the situation is different. Ahmadou says professional integration is the key. If you have no job, he says, then the ambition to reach Europe will never disappear.

“I am able to provide the necessities of life, especially housing,” Ahmadou says. “Of course, there are immigrants who suffer because they have inappropriate skills, or because of the fact some companies give priority to local citizens.”

Amid increasing international bickering—with a lengthening list of countries abstaining from the Compact—eventually 164 countries signed the non-binding Compact for “safe, orderly and regular migration.”

The Compact seeks to ensure migrants enjoy rights within a global vision based on joint management of migration between countries of origin, transit and hosting. Maintaining dignity underpins this effort—both for migrants and countries at large—by establishing a set of principles fostering integration of migrants within societies, while giving states full sovereignty in the enactment of national migration policies.

Indeed, the Compact is not binding, rather it invites countries to “develop national short, medium and long-term policy goals regarding the inclusion of migrants in societies, including on labor market integration, family reunification, education, non-discrimination and health, including by fostering partnerships with relevant stakeholders.”

The process of integration lately has proved arduous in many countries—Germany becoming a poster child for such frictions after welcoming hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees from strife-torn countries—especially when it comes to employment for migrants, resulting in high unemployment levels.

Even if jobs are found, migrants in European countries are more likely to work on temporary contracts. Over time, though, the employment gap between migrants and native born does narrow in most countries, and even vanishes in a third, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED).

Morocco is in a similar position to European countries having shifted from being a country of origins and transit to also one of destination for migrants.

Hence Morocco’s authorities have launched a program through its Agence nationale de promotion de l’emploi et des compétences (ANAPEC)—which translates as the national agency for employment and skills—to facilitate access to job search assistance, provide employment assistance and promote work equity within companies.

Its ultimate objective is to is to guarantee an honourable and dignified life for regularised migrants by ensuring equitable access to the labor market.

But despite such measures, the number of migrants and refugees inserted into Morocco’s labor market remains limited. On any given day, young men from various countries in West Africa endlessly pace the streets around Marrakech’s iconic Jemaa el-Fnaa square and market place in the Medina quarter, amiably trying to hawk the likes of iPhones, watches, sunglasses and bright decorative shirts to passers-by.

Hence calls to increase the ANAPEC services and benefits available to migrants, to mobilise and stimulate micro-credit institutions to finance income-generating activities and enterprises by migrants, and to improve communications to incentivise the private sector about the importance of recruiting migrants.

“Parlais vous Francais?” one migrant, sits by his trinkets laid out on the street, says hopefully to a potential foreign customer walking by, asking if he speaks English. But a shake of the head and a school-boy French apology are all that follow.

The migrant smiles and keeps waiting for another potential customer.

“Continuing to improve the conditions of migrants’ access to public services and rights, including the right to decent work, will push lots of migrants to realise their dreams here without the need to ride the waves of death across the Mediterranean,” Ahmadou says.

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Global Anti-Human Trafficking Coalitionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 18:27:12 +0000 Vladimir Bozovic http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159316 Vladimir Bozovic is Advisor of Government of the Republic of Serbia

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Child labourers rescued in Delhi waiting to be sent back to their villages. Credit: Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

By Vladimir Bozovic
BELGRADE, Serbia, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

Entire human history is one great struggle for freedom. To many, slavery is a synonym for something in the past, for transatlantic slave trade, but, unfortunately, slavery still exists in many different forms.

Records show that over twenty seven million men, women and children still live today in conditions that characterized social form of the slave ownership. They are trapped in forced labor and debt bondage, in domicile work and forced marriages, or they are being exploited by the human traffickers. We can easily speak of slavery as of great tragedy, and the fact that in this day and age still exists, is a downfall of human kind.

Modern slavery is a challenge for every democratic country. Suffering is the same as in the past, but methods are more sophisticated and perfidious, and most of those who suffer are the ones that should be protected the most – poor and socially excluded groups, who often live on the margins of our society, and young women and children. This is not an imaginary problem, it does not happen only to someone else and somewhere else; rather, it is a real threat and anyone can fall victim to.

The very first challenge in fight against slavery must be a cognizance: we must confess a bitter truth that slavery has been weakened, but still exists. Human trafficking is one of the growing forms of transnational crime, characterized by high profit and low risk, and it is followed by a grave statistics. It is crime of economic nature, and most efficiently organized, and we are currently fighting it on inconsistent and fragmented way. That is the dark side of globalization.

The issue of modern slavery is globally recognized by the UN in its millennium goals. Goal 8 is dedicated to increasing labor productivity, reducing the unemployment rate, especially for young people, improving access to financial services and benefits, fight against modern slavery and child labor. So many activities around this particular global goal prove that we don’t live anymore in a selfish world where we don’t consider other nations and their problems. No, the world of todays opens up to the misery of others, and everybody everywhere has to be good, for us to feel good. Employed, productive populations, sustainable economic growth, decent jobs with equal opportunities for fair salaries, safe working environments, social protection, these are all values that will ensure the progress of the entire world, and the whole world will benefit from the creativity, business and innovation of the free people.

Plenty has been done in delivering the Goal 8. UN reports that the average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita worldwide increased, the number of children from 5 to 17 years of age who are working has declined, access to financial services through automated teller machines increased… Plenty has been done, but also plenty has to be done. Child labor remains a serious concern with more than half of child laborers participate in dangerous work and 59% of them work in the agricultural sector; labor productivity has slowed down, the global unemployment rate hasn’t changed from 2016, with women more likely to be unemployed than men across all age groups. Youth were almost three times as likely as adults to be unemployed… It is clear that efforts provide results, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

There was a time we thought that the slavery is forever beaten, only to come back to us in new forms and shapes. That is why the solution must be fresh and brave. The only final answer to this problem is for every country, every government, every agency to work together, to unite and create an Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition that will engage entire society in fight against this crime, and combine all our efforts in protecting our citizens. It should be understood that eradicating the human trafficking is not solely a mission for the police or law enforcement agencies, this is a fight at all levels of society. We should campaign through media with the message that will define the problem, and develop the clear strategy that will unite countries and governments, churches and religious organizations, NGOs, youth, academic communities, media and all other important representatives of the society in one efficient and effective action with clear mechanisms of measuring the results. Everything should be designed in the way that those results are realistic and visible to the present victims, and to provide prevention and protection for potential victims. Time has clearly shown us, that this is one thing we can’t beat alone, nationally, rather, it’s a nick of time to do it globally.

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Vladimir Bozovic is Advisor of Government of the Republic of Serbia

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Taking Away the Ladderhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/taking-away-ladder/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=taking-away-ladder http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/taking-away-ladder/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 13:18:36 +0000 Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159312 The notion of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and later, South Africa) was concocted by Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill. His 2001 acronym was initially seen as a timely, if not belated acknowledgement of the rise of the South. But if one takes China out of the BRICS, one is left with little more than […]

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By Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury
KUALA LUMPUR & SYDNEY, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

The notion of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and later, South Africa) was concocted by Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill. His 2001 acronym was initially seen as a timely, if not belated acknowledgement of the rise of the South.

But if one takes China out of the BRICS, one is left with little more than RIBS. While the RIBS have undoubtedly grown in recent decades, their expansion has been quite uneven and much more modest than China’s, while the post-Soviet Russian economy contracted by half during Boris Yeltsin’s first three years of ‘shock therapy’ during 1992-1994.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Unsurprisingly, Goldman Sachs quietly shut down its BRICS investment fund in October 2015 after years of losses, marking “the end of an era”, according to Bloomberg.

Growth spurts in South America’s southern cone and sub-Saharan Africa lasted over a decade until the Saudi-induced commodity price collapse from 2014. But the recently celebrated rise of the South and developing country convergence with the OECD has largely remained an East Asian story.

Preventing emulation
Increasingly, that has involved China’s and South Korea’s continued ascendance after Japan’s financial ‘big bang’ and ensuing stagnation three decades ago. They have progressed and grown rapidly for extended periods precisely because they have not followed rules set by the advanced economies.

Industrial policy — involving state owned enterprises (SOEs), technology transfer agreements, government procurement, strict terms for foreign direct investment and other developmental interventions — was condemned by the Washington Consensus, promoting liberalization, privatization and deregulation favouring large transnational corporations.

Anis Chowdhury

Well-managed SOEs, government procurement practices and effective protection conditional on export promotion accelerated structural transformation. When foreign corporations were allowed to invest, they were typically required to transfer technology to the host economy.

Countries have only progressed by using industrial policy judiciously when sufficient policy space was available, as was the norm in most developed countries. But such successful development practices have been denied to most developing countries in recent decades. Instead, the North now emphasizes the dangers of industrial policy, subsidies, SOEs and technology transfer agreements, to justify precluding their use by others.

Blocking the alternative
Instead, corporate-led globalization continues to be sold as the way to develop and progress.
Some advocates insist that global value chain participation will provide handsome opportunities for sustained economic development despite the evidence to the contrary.

Major OECD economies appear intent on tightening international rules to further reduce developing countries’ policy space under the pretext of reforming the multilateral trading system in order to save it.

Trump and other challenges to this neoliberal narrative do not offer any better options for the South. Nevertheless, their nationalist and chauvinist rhetoric has undermined the pious claims and very legitimacy of their neoliberal ‘globalist’ rivals on the Right.

Infrastructure finance
UNCTAD’s 2018 Trade and Development Report emphasizes the link between infrastructure and industrialization. It argues that successful industrialization since 19th century England has crucially depended on public infrastructure. Infrastructure investment is thus considered crucial for economic growth and structural transformation.

The ascendance of the neoliberal Washington Consensus agenda has not only undermined public interventions generally, but also state revenue and spending in particular, especially in the developing world. But even the World Bank now admits that it had wrongly discouraged infrastructure financing, which it now advocates.

Most Western controlled international financial institutions have recently advocated public-private partnerships to finance, manage and implement infrastructure projects. The presumption is that only the private sector has the expertise and capacity to be efficient and profitable. In practice, states borrowed and bore most of the risk, e.g., of contingent liabilities, while private partners reaped much profit, often with state guaranteed revenues.

Unexpected policy space
Infrastructure, including both its construction and financing, has been central, not only to China’s own progress, but also to its international development cooperation. China’s financial redeployment of its massive current account surplus has created an alternative to traditional sources of investment finance, both private and public.

The availability of Chinese infrastructure finance on preferential or concessionary terms has been enthusiastically taken up, not least by countries long starved of investible resources. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in over-investments in some infrastructure, resulting in underutilization and poor returns to investment.

The resulting debt burdens and related problems have been well publicized, if not exaggerated by critics with different motivations. Now threatened by China’s rise, Western governments and Japan have suddenly found additional resources to offer similar concessionary financing for their own infrastructure firms.

Thus, not unlike the US-Soviet Cold War, the perceived new threat from China has created a new bipolar rivalry. That has inadvertently created policy space and concessions reminiscent of the post-Second World War ‘Golden Age’ for Keynesian and development economics.

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Digital Crusaders: Technology Offers Weapons for the Battle Against Corruptionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/digital-crusaders-technology-offers-weapons-battle-corruption/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=digital-crusaders-technology-offers-weapons-battle-corruption http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/digital-crusaders-technology-offers-weapons-battle-corruption/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 09:34:32 +0000 Chris Wellisz http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159307 Chris Wellisz is on the staff of Finance and Development at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) *

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Chris Wellisz is on the staff of Finance and Development at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) *

By Chris Wellisz
WASHINGTON DC, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

Oleksii Sobolev was a fund manager by day and a pro-democracy protester by night. After work, he would leave his office at Dragon Asset Management in Kiev to join the crowds camped out in Independence Square demanding the resignation of a president they viewed as corrupt.

Sobolev handed out food and helped clean up the square. When police started firing at the so-called Maidan protesters, he brought tires that were burned to create a protective curtain of smoke.

“The saying was, ‘Fires save lives,’” Sobolev recalls.

Ukraine’s president ended up in exile, and Sobolev gave up managing money to take an unpaid advisory post helping to restructure state-owned enterprises. Four years later, he has put his business skills to work fighting corruption, a problem that continues to bedevil the eastern European country of 44 million people.

Ukraine ranked 131st among 176 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2016.

Sobolev’s team of activists created an electronic auction system that brought transparency to notoriously murky sales of public assets ranging from bank loans to scrap metal.

In its first 13 months, the system, ProZorro.Sale, handled $210 million, almost as much as the money raised from conventional privatization sales in the past five years, says Max Nefyodov, Ukraine’s first deputy economy minister. That’s a significant boost for the cash-strapped Ukrainian government.

Sobolev belongs to a new breed of idealistic young people who are using digital technologies to promote transparency and integrity. Just as smartphones and social media helped empower popular uprisings from Ukraine to Tunisia, 21st century technologies such as blockchain and big data offer powerful new weapons against corruption, a phenomenon that dates back at least as far as the first century BC, when Julius Caesar secured the office of Pontifex Maximus by greasing voters’ palms.

Corruption’s toll
Worldwide, bribery alone is estimated to cost as much as $2 trillion a year, about equal to the GDP of Italy and many times the $142 billion in global development aid. But corruption takes a much bigger toll, according to a 2016 IMF study “Corruption: Costs and Mitigating Strategies.” It discourages private investment, curbing economic growth.

Corrupt officials channel public funds to wasteful projects that generate bribes, depleting funds that could be spent on health, education, and other services that benefit the poor. And young people have little incentive to acquire new skills in societies where who they know is more important than what they know.

“Countries that are less corrupt have higher growth rates, have higher levels of GDP, and have higher levels on the Human Development Index of the United Nations,” which measures things like life expectancy and years of schooling, says Susan Rose-Ackerman, a Yale University law professor who studies the political economy of corruption.

That explains why international financial institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank, are helping governments fight corruption through improved transparency, accountability, and institution building.

The anti-corruption drive is providing opportunities for private technology companies like the Bitfury Group, which signed a contract with the Republic of Georgia to register land titles using blockchain technology. Blockchain serves simultaneously as a means of exchange—of money or information—and a database that automatically registers transactions.

Records are encrypted and stored across a network of computers, rather than in a central location, so they cannot be altered or stolen.

Some start-ups are offering their services to charitable organizations as well as governments. Among them is Dublin-based AID:Tech, which created a platform that ensures the integrity of charitable contributions and social welfare payments.

“I know a lot of people who would love to give money but don’t because they don’t know where it goes,” says AID:Tech’s CEO and cofounder, Joseph Thompson.

AID:Tech was inspired by a charity event in 2009. Thompson ran 152 miles across the Sahara Desert to raise money for children who needed reconstructive surgery. When he asked for evidence that the aid had been delivered to the intended recipients, the charity couldn’t provide it.

Thompson, who has master’s degrees in business, digital currencies, and computer science, set out to find a way to make sure that charitable donations don’t go astray. He found it in blockchain, also known as distributed ledger technology.

Originally developed to store and exchange Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, it has since been adapted for a variety of uses.

“If you can get an end-beneficiary on the blockchain, that’s their bank account,” Thompson says. Donations go straight to the beneficiary, without intermediaries; the company provides the technology but doesn’t handle any money.

“There’s no more fraud, no more people claiming benefits for dead parents or brothers and sisters who have emigrated.”

The Irish Red Cross agreed to test Thompson’s solution with a program to distribute aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Each recipient was given a small plastic card stamped with a QR code—a type of machine-readable optical label.

Money was deducted when the cards were scanned at supermarket checkout counters. Five hundred electronic vouchers worth $20 apiece were redeemed in Lebanon, and not a penny went astray.

“The results were fantastic,’’ says Daniel Curran, head of fundraising for the Irish Red Cross. Using a dashboard Thompson set up, he tracked spending by recipients in real time, gleaning valuable insights into their needs. (He was surprised to learn that refugees bound for resettlement in Ireland bought dental products rather than winter clothes.)

The technology also allows charities to appeal to a younger class of smartphone-wielding donors, and it reduces their reliance on expensive direct-marketing campaigns. That means more money will flow to the people who need it.

“This is a cheaper, more transparent, faster, and efficient way of not just obtaining the donation, but actually getting the donation to the beneficiary in the end,” Curran says.

Doing well by doing good
AID:Tech is expanding rapidly, with contracts to provide software for the delivery of remittances to Serbia, social welfare payments in Jordan, and aid to homeless women in Ireland. It is raising between $3 million and $5 million from investors and plans to open offices in Singapore and Dubai. The goal is to have at least 100,000 people on the platform by June.

Thompson doesn’t hesitate to say he aims to do well by doing good. “We are a for-profit, but we’re using technology to solve some of the world’s biggest problems,’’ he says. The platform, he says, can be used by governments and social welfare agencies around the globe, with a potential customer base in the billions.

Another promising use for blockchain: secure digital storage of documents.

“Blockchain is so powerful because it gives us something we didn’t have in the digital world,” says Gonzalo Blousson, cofounder and CEO of Signatura, a platform that can be used to sign and notarize documents among multiple people. “Digital information is easy to modify. Blockchain gives us immutability.”

Blousson is working with Argentina’s second-largest city, Córdoba, which recently passed a law requiring public officials to file financial disclosure forms. Blockchain ensures that the forms are both visible to the public and cannot be altered.

Blousson and his team also used the technology to build a procurement platform, called Teneris, which companies and governments can use to solicit bids from suppliers of goods and services, a process that is often rife with opportunities for bribery and bid rigging.

Still, blockchain has its limitations, says Beth Noveck, a New York University (NYU) professor who specializes in the use of technology to bring transparency to government. Corruption also occurs after bids are awarded—when a building contractor uses shoddy materials to cut corners, for example.

That’s where big data offers a promising investigatory tool, Noveck says. The technology makes it possible to aggregate data on government spending and contracting and to analyze it for signs of waste, fraud, and corruption. As Noveck puts it, “You can spot the patterns of whose brother-in-law got too many contracts.”

Mobilizing citizen involvement also makes a difference, says Noveck, a lawyer by training who heads NYU’s Governance Lab. People like Diego Mendiburu are doing just that. A former journalist and technology buff, he put together a team of programmers to develop a mobile app that allows Mexicans to report substandard public services.

Users with smartphones can capture and share short videos of potholes that go unfilled or trees that are cut down illegally as a way of shaming public officials and pressuring them to act.

The app, Supercivicos, uses GPS technology to pinpoint the date and location of the videos, then builds a database of reports that can be used by civic groups and government agencies to identify problem services and find solutions.

Mendiburu wants users to become engaged citizen-journalists. “It’s not only about pointing out what’s wrong, it’s about telling stories,” he says. “We believe that this project can be exported to other countries in Latin America.”

In Ukraine, there are similar ambitions for ProZorro.Sale (the name combines the Ukrainian word for transparency with Zorro, the fictional Mexican who defended the poor against corrupt officials). As of December, Transparency International Ukraine was in talks with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to adapt the system for use elsewhere in Europe.

Of course, digital technology, while effective, can be stymied by governments, whose support is needed in the fight against official corruption. Late last year, the IMF and World Bank criticized Ukraine for undermining its recently established National Anti-Corruption Bureau and for failing to make good on promises to create an independent anti-corruption court.

“E-tools are important, but institutions are far more important,” says Viktor Nestulia, director of the Innovation Projects Program at Transparency International Ukraine.

*https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2018/03/pdf/wellisz.pdf

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Chris Wellisz is on the staff of Finance and Development at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) *

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Global Migration Compact May Help Combat the Myth that Migrants are Liabilitieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-migration-compact-may-help-combat-myth-migrants-liabilities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-migration-compact-may-help-combat-myth-migrants-liabilities http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-migration-compact-may-help-combat-myth-migrants-liabilities/#respond Mon, 17 Dec 2018 15:23:32 +0000 Kingsley Ighobor http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159280 Kingsley Ighobor, Africa Renewal*

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Rescue operations of African migrants carried out in the Channel of Sicily, Italy. Credit: IOM / Malavolta

By Kingsley Ighobor
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 17 2018 (IPS)

In August 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May visited countries in Africa, sparking hope of increased foreign direct investments (FDI) in the continent.

Mr. Macron was in Nigeria, Ms. Merkel visited Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, and Ms. May made stops in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

Apart from the question of FDI, these influential leaders were looking at how to stem the flow of African migrants traveling to Europe in search of jobs and better lives.

“I believe in a win-win game. Let’s help Africa to succeed. Let’s provide new hope for African youth in Africa,” President Macron said in Nigeria, explaining that it was in Europe’s interest to tackle migration from Africa at its roots.

New York Times writers Eduardo Porter and Karl Russell echoed the French president’s sentiments: “If rich countries want fewer immigrants, their best shot might be to help poor countries become rich, so that fewer people feel the urge to leave.”

Africans on the road
Every day hundreds of Africans, including women and children, strike out in search of real or imagined riches in Europe or America. About a million migrants from sub-Saharan Africa moved to Europe between 2010 and 2017, according to the Pew Research Center, a Washington, D.C.–based nonpartisan fact tank.

While Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia and South Africa are the top way stations for sub-Saharan migrants moving to Europe and the US, Pew lists South Sudan, Central African Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe, Eritrea and Namibia as having some of the fastest-growing international migrant populations living outside their country of birth.

Africans are on the move because of “conflict, persecution, environmental degradation and change, and a profound lack of human security and opportunity,” states the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in its World Migration Report 2018.

Migration corridors mostly used by Africans are Algeria to France, Burkina Faso to Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt to the United Arab Emirates, Morocco to Spain, and Somalia to Kenya.

Of the 258 million international migrants globally, 36 million live in Africa, with 19 million living in another African country and 17 million in Europe, North America and other regions, Ashraf El Nour, Director of IOM, New York, informed Africa Renewal.

When unregulated and unmanaged, migration can create “false and negative perceptions of migrants that feed into a narrative of xenophobia, intolerance and racism,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted at an event in New York last September.

“The narrative of migrants as a threat, as a source of fear, which has colored international media coverage on migration, is false,” said Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), a UN body that deals with trade, investment and development issues, in an interview with Africa Renewal.

Orderly migration
The Global Compact for Migration, the first-ever inter-governmentally negotiated agreement on international migration, which was adopted in Marrakesh last week, could counter negative perceptions of migrants, experts say.

The IOM states the compact will help achieve “safe, orderly and regular migration,” referring to it as an opportunity to “improve the governance on migration, to address the challenges associated with today’s migration, and to strengthen the contribution of migrants and migration to sustainable development.”

The compact consists of 23 objectives, among them mitigating the adverse drivers and structural factors that hinder people from building and maintaining sustainable livelihoods in their countries of origin; reducing the risks and vulnerabilities migrants face at different stages of migration by respecting, protecting and fulfilling their human rights and providing them with care and assistance; and creating conditions that enable all migrants to enrich societies through their human, economic and social capacities, and thus facilitating their contributions to sustainable development at the local, national, regional and global levels.

The compact also refers to enabling faster, safer and cheaper transfer of remittances and fostering the financial inclusion of migrants; ensuring that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation; and providing migrants with access to basic services.

The Global Compact for Migration is not legally binding, but its provisions can be a powerful reference point for those formulating immigration policies as well as for human rights advocates in the face of mistreatment of migrants.

Negative attitudes or even violence against migrants typically stem from fears that they take jobs away from native-born citizens or that they engage in criminal activities, according to a study by the South Africa–based Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), a statutory research agency.

In the HSRC study, which focused on South Africans’ attitudes toward immigrants, 30% of the public blamed foreigners for “stealing jobs from hardworking South Africans,” while another 30% pointed to immigrants’ criminal activities.

But IOM South Africa countered that “immigration does not harm the long-term employment prospects or wages of native-born workers,” adding that “migrants are twice as likely to be entrepreneurs [as] South African nationals.” The South African government regularly condemns xenophobic attacks.

Economic perspective of migration
Mr. Kituyi said that most migration studies focus on “the plight of migrants, the crisis of international solidarity or humanitarian challenges.” He wished that more attention were paid to migration from the perspective of economic development.

Ms. Lúcia Kula, an Angolan migrant who is a researcher in the UK, concurred, adding that conversations about migration should shift to the migrants’ contributions to their new society.

“One of the main things they [immigrants] do in the economies they get into is create value. They enter niches where they are more competitive…and it can boost the local economy,” Mr. Kituyi elaborated.

Many migrants are talented professionals and offer expert services in their new countries. Iso Paelay, for example, left Liberia in the heat of the war in the 90s and resettled in Ghana, where he became a star presenter for TV3, a leading media house in the country. Apparently, Liberia’s loss was Ghana’s gain.

Mr. Kituyi points to a phenomenon of migrants going to other countries to engage in the ethnic food business. “They start creating routes to get food from their home country,” he said. Ethiopian restaurants in Nairobi, Kenya, including Abyssinia, Habesha and Yejoka Garden, serve Ethiopian dishes such as injera.

Abuja International Restaurant in Union, New Jersey, sells Nigerian food such as eba, amala and fufu and the popular beer Gulder. In New York, Africans and others throng “Little Senegal,” a single street in Harlem, to shop for anything African—foodstuffs, music CDs, hair products, religious items and finely tailored clothes.

While working hard, earning money and making contributions to their new countries, African migrants also “remit small monies back home to support their families,” explained Mr. Kituyi. “Eighty-five percent [of immigrants’ earnings] goes to the host country and 15% to the country of origin through remittances.”

“A good chunk of the money I make here [in the US] I spend here; I pay my bills and get things for myself. I remit some to upkeep my parents,” concurs Ms. Christy Emeagi, a lawyer who left Nigeria “because I wanted a better life for my unborn children.”

The inclusion in the Global Compact for Migration of ways to make remittances faster and safer will be sweet music to African migrants.

In 2017, remittance flows from migrants to sub-Saharan Africa were $38 billion, reports the World Bank. That is more than the $25 billion official development aid (ODA) to the region that year.

Currently, says Mr. Kituyi, “it is painful to see an overly high cost of transaction mostly going to international payment services like Western Union, PayPal and so on.”

Achieving the objectives of the Global Compact for Migration may take some time, experts believe. Nevertheless, the compact’s immediate impact is that safe, orderly and regular migration is currently at the forefront of global conversation. And that is a step in the right direction.

*Africa Renewal is published by the United Nations

The post Global Migration Compact May Help Combat the Myth that Migrants are Liabilities appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Kingsley Ighobor, Africa Renewal*

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Q&A: Many African Countries Already Live the Future of 2°C Warmerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-many-african-countries-already-live-future-2c-warmer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-many-african-countries-already-live-future-2c-warmer http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-many-african-countries-already-live-future-2c-warmer/#respond Fri, 14 Dec 2018 11:01:50 +0000 Isaiah Esipisu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159249 As the United Nations climate conference nears an end, all eyes are on the negotiators  who have been working day and night for the past two weeks to come up with a Rulebook for implementation of the Paris Agreement. However, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), climate change is also a humanitarian issue. According […]

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Gernot Laganda, Chief of the Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes at the World Food Programme says that because of climate change the number of natural disasters in the world have doubled since 1990. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

By Isaiah Esipisu
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 14 2018 (IPS)

As the United Nations climate conference nears an end, all eyes are on the negotiators  who have been working day and night for the past two weeks to come up with a Rulebook for implementation of the Paris Agreement.

However, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), climate change is also a humanitarian issue.

According to the humanitarian organisation, natural disasters such as droughts, storms and floods, have doubled since the 1990s.

“So nowadays there are so many people who require food assistance and other humanitarian aid after disasters than it was a few decades ago,” Gernot Laganda, Chief of the Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes at WFP, tells IPS at the sidelines of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Kotowice, Poland.

“We are also concerned because with humanitarian aid, we cannot run fast enough as the problem of hunger in the world is running away from us,” Laganda says.

According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018, the number of hungry people increased to over 820 million in 2017 from approximately 804 million in 2016. And Laganda says the ‘trend is on the rise”.

“When we look into a future of 2 degrees Celsius warmer world, it means we will have over a billion people who are at risk of hunger and food security,” he says. Excepts of the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): How is climate change impacting on food security?

Gernot Laganda (GL): Climate change affects food security in two principle ways. First, there is the whole question around agriculture from production of crops, to the storage to the transport to the market. Climate change can affect each of these stages.

The other one is about extreme events that keep throwing people back into poverty. Each year, 28 million people fall back into poverty because of extreme weather events. That means no matter how much development progress we are making to achieve zero hunger by 2030, every year we slide back, and that is a concern.

IPS: Will women’s ownership of land be of good value especially for climate adaptation?

GL: Having ownership of land certainly increases sustainability of agriculture production because people look after their land. In many cases, development projects fail also because land ownership and who has the right to use the land for how long has not been considered. So it is a big factor in development.

Of course when you mention the issue of ownership of land, then the whole issue of gender comes in, in various ways. On one side, there is a discussion about women being vulnerable in general. But we see it in slightly a different way.  We see it as women being agents of change in many countries and in many communities, so when you want to invest in a sustainable manner, it is a very good idea to have women saving groups. They have very good experiences in building risk reserves. And whenever there are little problems for example when the rains come late, it becomes very efficient to go through such crises. But when it comes to catastrophic shocks, we look more at insurance based models.

IPS: Do you see this COP solving some of the climate problems in relation to food security?

GL: This COP is primarily about implementing the Paris agreement and maintaining the global average of temperature increases well below two degrees Celsius. I think in all the discussions about temperature ranges we tend to forget that many countries, especially in Africa, are already experiencing two degrees Celsius of temperature increase. So the reality in these countries look like what we are still discussing here. Indeed, many African countries already live the future that we are collectively still trying to avoid.

IPS: How has climate change contributed in terms of displacing families?

GL: Statistics from the last 10 years tell us that on average 22 million people are driven from their homes every year because of climate extremes. Migration is actually a traditional adaptation mechanism because people move to other places in search of greener pastures, job opportunities and so on. But we are talking about forced displacement due to climate related disasters. Climate related events can also aggravate conflicts at local levels between farmers and herders for example, or it can still happen between countries especially where we have large international river basins.

IPS: What does the latest  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report mean to Africa in terms of food security?

GL: All countries are affected by climate change but agrarian countries feel it the most. In Africa, many countries have a huge percentage of their GDP coming from agriculture. That makes such economies very vulnerable because agriculture is about climate sensitive resources such as water, crops, fish-stock, livestock among others. All poor countries that heavily depend on natural resources are the most impacted.

IPS: What are your expectations for COP24?

GL: Everybody’s expectation is that we will have a Rulebook by the end of the COP. But there is also a recognition that this is not an easy task because for one it is difficult enough to agree on what we want to do. But [the Rulebook] is about how we are going to hold ourselves accountable.

In the Rulebook, I expect to see a regime by which countries can track and report on the degrees of their progress against their self set targets or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

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Decoding Article 6 of the COP24 Climate Negotiationshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/decoding-article-6-cop-24-climate-negotiations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=decoding-article-6-cop-24-climate-negotiations http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/decoding-article-6-cop-24-climate-negotiations/#respond Fri, 14 Dec 2018 07:11:02 +0000 Sohara Mehroze Shachi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159242 It is close to curtain call for the United Nations’ Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland, with ministers from around the world negotiating the text for a “rulebook” to implement the historic 2015 Paris Agreement for climate action. Amidst the various issues being debated, one of the most technical and complicated is Article 6 of the […]

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The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) side event at COP24 that discussed transparency and NDC implementation. Credit: Sohara Mehroze Shachi/IPS

By Sohara Mehroze Shachi
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 14 2018 (IPS)

It is close to curtain call for the United Nations’ Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland, with ministers from around the world negotiating the text for a “rulebook” to implement the historic 2015 Paris Agreement for climate action. Amidst the various issues being debated, one of the most technical and complicated is Article 6 of the agreement, which focuses on the country plans for climate action.

While the world has been having climate conferences since 1992, the tide turned with the Paris Agreement when all countries agreed to play their part to undertake climate action.

“Developing countries now have a strong political will to contribute to the greenhouse gas reduction,” said Hyoeun Jenny Kim, Deputy Director General at the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), an international organisation that promotes balancing economic growth without harming the environment. This political will was manifested in Paris with countries voluntarily submitting their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for reducing carbon emissions and building climate resilience, taking into account their respective circumstances.

“But at the same time, they need support to affectively implement their NDCs,” Kim said, at a side event at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), which was organised by GGGI and focused on transparency and NDC implementation.

In order to get support from outside, Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) of a country’s carbon emissions reduction is almost a precondition as many donor agencies and even private sector organisations want to know how much greenhouse gases a developing country is emitting before they make a decision to support it.

“MRV is key for developing countries to get access to financial, technical and capacity building support, and that’s why we are supporting developing countries to set up more proper and internationally acceptable MRV scheme,” Kim said.

GGGI’s interventions in this area include preparing a low emissions development strategy for Fiji, Colombia’s national green growth strategy and Mongolia’s national energy efficiency plan. The organisation is also working on building capacity to implement MRVs in various countries around the globe, including, Mozambique, Senegal, Nepal and Laos.

“We will continue to support our members and partners in their efforts of effectively implementing NDCs with robust MRVs, so they can access more finance,” Kim said.

“We are committed to reminding countries that green growth can happen.”

One of the speakers at the panel was Ariyaratne Hewage, Special Envoy of the President on Climate Change, Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, in Sri Lanka, which is on track to become a member of the GGGI. He said Sri Lanka anticipates extensive support from GGGI in the years to come for its preparation of various project proposals to fight climate change.

“The present situation in Sri Lanka is severe droughts in one part of the country and heavy floods in another,” Hewage said. During a 2016 survey conducted by the Bonn-based NGO Germanwatch, Sri Lanka was awarded the fourth place in terms of climate vulnerability.

“We are severely affected by climate change, so we are very keen in developing climate change programs to ensure these problems are properly addressed,” Hewage said.

The proposed emission reduction i.e. mitigation targets of Sri Lanka’s NDCs include 30 percent reduction in the energy sector and 10 percent reduction in transport, industry and waste by 2030.

“For energy and transport sector we already have developed MRV systems, but for the other sectors – industry, waste, agriculture, livestock, forestry – we need help,” he added.

The need for support was also stressed by Ziaul Haque who leads the Bangladesh delegation’s COP24 negotiations on Article 6.

“Our main issue is lack of capacity to address this enhanced transparency framework under the Paris Agreement at both the institutional level and the individual level,” said Haque, highlighting the need for accurate data.

“We need to bring data on green house gas emissions from different institutions and whether they are collecting and archiving the data in the right manner is an issue that needs to be looked at. In this regard our institutional arrangement is not very strong at the national level,” he said, stating that strengthening the capacity of institutions and individuals who will be dealing with the transparency issue is crucial.

Rajani Ranjan Rashmi, a Distinguished Fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and former Special Secretary of India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, said at the side event that one of the fundamental issues to deciding a transparency framework is that of flexibility.

“Developing countries should be able to make gradual progression on the quality of data,” he said. “We have so far not been able to agree in the discussions on this level of flexibility.”

Moreover, whether the same guidelines regarding MRV of greenhouse gases should be applied to all countries is also an issue of contention at COP24, he added.

Jae Jung, Deputy Director of the Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Research Center (GIR), another panelist at the side event, said having common metrics and structured summary is crucial.

“At this moment we don’t have the final text of the Paris rulebook, but we do have a very clean text of the common metric with no bracket, so there might be agreement on that,” Jung said.

“In terms of global stock take of emissions we don’t have to have a common metric in our inventory. But when we do the global stock take every five years there has to be someone doing the conversion applying the same common metric to all countries’ inventories,” he added.

He also stressed the importance of “structured summary” – a form of presentation of aggregated presentation of data that makes it possible to see the level of carbon emissions of one country – stating that helps to avoid double counting issue.

“There is opposition to structured summary because some parties want to use qualitative indicators and narrative descriptions of their NDCs,” he said, “But how does it make sense logically to have qualitative results when you have a quantitative target?”

One way to address the multifaceted challenges to NDC implementation would be through engagement of the private sector, according to experts.

“Many people think Article 6 of the Paris Agreement is about the market itself, but it is about increasing cooperation,” said Dr. Suh-Young Chung, Director of Center for Climate and Sustainable Development Law and Policy (CSDLAP).

“If you look at the Paris landscape to meet the 2-degree Celsius temperature target, you realise it is not enough and you need to bring in private sector investment. And countries need to work together on this,” he said, adding that Article 6 eventually needs to promote cooperation with the private sector, via incentive mechanism to engage businesses and addressing the risks they face.

“Article 6 is about bringing more opportunities for developing countries, but to do so, you need MRVs first,” he said.

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Senior UN Official Resigns Undermining Sexual Abuse Chargeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/senior-un-official-resigns-undermining-sexual-abuse-charges/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=senior-un-official-resigns-undermining-sexual-abuse-charges http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/senior-un-official-resigns-undermining-sexual-abuse-charges/#respond Fri, 14 Dec 2018 06:59:52 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159244 The UN’s heavily-hyped “zero tolerance” policy on sexual abuse is being ridiculed once again –– this time with the abrupt resignation of the head of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) who faced charges of sexual harassment and was the subject of an inquiry by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). The resignation […]

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ICSC Commissioners with former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Credit: UN photo

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 14 2018 (IPS)

The UN’s heavily-hyped “zero tolerance” policy on sexual abuse is being ridiculed once again –– this time with the abrupt resignation of the head of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) who faced charges of sexual harassment and was the subject of an inquiry by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).

The resignation of the ICSC chairman, Under-Secretary-General (USG) Kingston Rhodes, who holds one of the highest ranking jobs in the UN system, followed the release of the OIOS report to the ICSC last week.

But the contents of the report are under wraps since neither the OIOS nor ICSC have announced plans to go public with the results of the months-long investigations in an institution which has long preached “transparency and accountability” to the outside world.

The New York-based Equality Now, a non-governmental organization (NGO) which promotes women’s rights, received an official email December 11 from the ICSC’s Executive Secretary, Regina Pawlik, that the chair, Kingston Rhodes from Sierra Leone, is resigning, effective 14 December—about two weeks ahead of his planned retirement.

Antonia Kirkland, Legal Equality Global Lead at Equality Now, told IPS that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged months ago that the allegations against the Chair of the ICSC are “credible.,”

“So he should have done everything to protect his own staff from sexual harassment regardless of the Chair of the ICSC, or anyone else’s, technical employment status vis-a-vis the UN.”

She said the UN’s zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment should apply to all, without exception, with survivors and their interests at the center.

“All those who have been found to perpetrate sexual harassment should be held accountable. The UN is the premier international defender of human rights and should start by defending its own employees from sexual harassment in the workplace,” said Kirkland.

Moreover, she pointed out, the Commissioners of the ICSC, whose meetings are funded by the UN, should have held the Chair accountable, first when the UN Secretary-General brought the allegations to their attention almost 10 months ago.

“The fact that the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report took a year to be completed and shared with the ICSC Commissioners, and has never been shared with the complainant, is unacceptable,” she added.

The ICSC is described as an independent expert body established by the 193- member UN General Assembly, and its mandate is to regulate and coordinate the conditions of service of staff in the United Nations common system, while promoting and maintaining high standards in the international civil service.

At a press briefing December 11, UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq was asked about the OIOS investigation.

Question: “So, there is a report submitted by OIOS… but will the UN release its report, or how will it address it, in the name of transparency”. As you know, responded Haq, “the ICSC is outside of the United Nations itself”.

“The report has been submitted to them, and it’s up to them to respond. Ultimately, I don’t speak for them; so, I can’t answer questions about what they may do,” he added.

Paula Donovan, a women’s rights activist and co-Director of AIDS-Free World and Code Blue Campaign, told IPS “for months, my question about this ICSC saga has been: “Why, when the UN constantly cites the need for more and better-qualified investigators at OIOS, are they farming out the UN’s over-stretched investigators’ services to any entity that, according to the SG’s spokesperson, isn’t part of the UN?”

“It’s become second nature for the UN to respond to any question related to sexual abuse in ways that test public confidence in the organization’s relationship with the truth,” declared Donovan, a former UN Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa.

When allegations of sexual harassment were made against the ICSC last November, the United Nations admitted that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has no jurisdiction over a UN body created by the General Assembly and answerable only to member states.

http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/sexual-abuse-un-chief-no-jurisdiction-act/

Kirkland of Equality Now told IPS: “When the complainant went to the UN Ethics Office to complain about retaliation, she was asked to transfer, rather than him being put on administrative leave, at the very least”.

Indeed, it appears the Commissioners have allowed the Chairman to resign quietly, on the day of his farewell party this Friday (replacing the annual holiday party), rather than terminating him. This comes just before the end of his term on the 31st and sends the wrong message that powerful men can harass UN female staff with impunity,” she added.

In a statement to IPS, Equality Now identified the complainant as Shihana Mohamed, a Human Resources Policies Officer who has been working with ICSC since 2005 and in the UN system for over 20 years.

She told Equality Now: “I was sexually harassed by the Chairman of the ICSC for over 10 years – and I was not the only one. Because I said “NO” to his repeated sexual advances, he denied me promotions, and excluded me from duty travels, training, assignments, projects, Commission sessions and working groups”

“In 2016, I was on sick leave for 3-months due to the stress caused by the hostile office environment and retaliation by the ICSC management.”

“His quiet resignation just two weeks before the end of his term is a slap in my face and barely a slap on his wrist. It is very sad that the ICSC, a jointly-funded body with a mandate to cover all facets of UN staff employment conditions, failed to make Mr. Rhodes accountable for his misconduct.”

Also, the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly have said that they do not have any jurisdiction over the ICSC Chairman who is a UN official elected by the General Assembly.

“Then, my question is, who has the jurisdiction over him? Can this one person stand above all the rules, regulation and UN values as well as with no checks and balances while dealing with public funds and trust?,” she asked.

Messages to Rhodes and to his Vice Chairman Aldo Mantovani, seeking comments, went unanswered.

Meanwhile, Peter A. Gallo, the Legal Counsel to Shihana Mohamed, said in a statement released December 13, that he had formally requested the Secretary-General waive the immunity of Rhodes.

“I have not received any response to that request. Mr. Rhodes is not a “UN staff member” as such, but enjoys the protection of the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities,” he said.

“The United Nations has often denied that they use that Convention as a mechanism to protect sexual offenders, but the Secretary-General’s failure to act on this request shows that is not the case,” said Gallo, himself a former OIOS investigator.

He pointed out that the sexual harassment complaint against Rhodes was made twelve months ago.

“The pertinent UN rules state that such investigations should normally be completed within three months, but I have been informed by Investigations Director, Mr. Ben Swanson of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (“OIOS”) confirming that while a complaint was received in November 2017, the investigation was not actually commenced for another five months while the Organization delayed making a decision on whether Mr. Rhodes could actually be investigated. The OIOS investigation then took a further seven months.”

In June this year, said Gallo, the “Secretary-General acknowledged that the evidence against Mr. Rhodes was “credible” and “serious” – but although he may not have the authority to discipline the ICSC Chairman, the Secretary-General does have the authority – and indeed the duty – to waive the immunity and leave the matter to the legal system in New York: but has been unwilling to do so.”

He said “to allow the subject of an sexual harassment investigation to avoid being held accountable for his actions by simply accepting his resignation less than ten working days before he was due to retire anyway is a patent insult to every woman working in the UN system, and shows the utter futility of victims relying on the UN to hold perpetrators accountable for misconduct.”

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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Not Just the Big Guys Are Against the Compacthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/not-just-big-guys-compact/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=not-just-big-guys-compact http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/not-just-big-guys-compact/#respond Thu, 13 Dec 2018 22:40:19 +0000 Souleymane Brah Oumarou http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159239 A few hours after the adoption of the United Nation’s Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, a consortium of Moroccan human rights organisations—La Vie Campesina—held a sit in protest in front of Marrakech’s Grand Post Office. In the statement issued on December 11, the leaders of the 15 organisations denounced the […]

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A few hours after the adoption of the United Nation’s Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, a consortium of Moroccan human rights organisations—La Vie Campesina—held a sit in protest in front of Marrakech’s Grand Post Office, denouncing the compact. Credit: Souleymane Brah Oumarou/IPS

By Souleymane Brah Oumarou
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 13 2018 (IPS)

A few hours after the adoption of the United Nation’s Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, a consortium of Moroccan human rights organisations—La Vie Campesina—held a sit in protest in front of Marrakech’s Grand Post Office. In the statement issued on December 11, the leaders of the 15 organisations denounced the compact.

“It is a setback, not only for the free movement of people and their goods, but also a violation of human rights, protection of migrants and their families as provided for in international conventions already approved by the United Nations and other institutions,” says Federico Daniel, a member of the consortium, adding that La vie Campesina proposes an alternative compact “to restore the primacy of the rights of men, women, children and peoples.”

This can be achieved, he explains, by “building local economies that are sustainable, united and just, while a state’s responsibility is to prevent criminalisation, repression or detention of migrants on their migratory routes before they reach their country of destination and settlement.”

The consortium’s stance echoes that of a number of UN member countries that made last minute withdrawals from the compact. Hungary, Australia, Israel, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Italy, Switzerland and Chile have all either refused to sign it or expressed reservations. The United States, one of the first to bridle against the U.N.’s push for the Compact, has gone as far as labelling it a violation of state sovereignty.

“We believe the Compact and the process that led to its adoption, including the New York Declaration, represent an effort by the U.N. to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of States to manage their immigration systems in accordance with their national laws, policies, and interests,” read a statement released by the U.S. on the eve of the conference.

But the U.N. insists that the compact is voluntary and cooperative, not legally binding, and fully respects the sovereignty of states. 

“The Global Compact respects the sovereignty of countries,” says U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.  “And I believe that, reading carefully the Compact, countries will be able to understand that there are no reasons to be worried about the Compact. And I am hopeful that in the future they will join us in a common venture to the benefit of their own societies of the world as a whole and of the migrants.”

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The Evolution of Moroccan Immigration: a Lesson for All Countrieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/evolution-moroccan-immigration-lesson-countries/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=evolution-moroccan-immigration-lesson-countries http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/evolution-moroccan-immigration-lesson-countries/#respond Thu, 13 Dec 2018 22:25:24 +0000 Lahcen Elyasmini http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159237 One of the reasons Morocco embraced hosting the Global Compact on Migration is because it is country in which the story of immigration is deeply embedded. The evolution of the Moroccan immigration phenomenon occurred during the second half of the 20th century. The first waves of migrants began at the end of the 1950s and […]

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By Lahcen Elyasmini
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 13 2018 (IPS)

One of the reasons Morocco embraced hosting the Global Compact on Migration is because it is country in which the story of immigration is deeply embedded.
The evolution of the Moroccan immigration phenomenon occurred during the second half of the 20th century. The first waves of migrants began at the end of the 1950s and at the beginning of the ‘60s, heading toward Europe—France, in particular.

During this period, France, like many European countries, was re-constructing itself in the wake of the Second World War, and it also needed a boost to its workforce because of huge human losses during the war—hence the appeal of foreign labourers.

Morocco was particularly well placed to provide, both literally, due to its proximity to the southern shore of Spain—which lies but 15 kilometres from Morocco’s coast at the narrowest point of the Strait of Gibraltar waterway between them—and culturally and historically. Between 1912 – 1956, Morocco was a French and Spanish protectorate, during which French policy meant a Moroccan could travel freely to France without a visa, a far cry from the situation now in Europe, hence there already was a Moroccan footprint established in the country. 

Come the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Moroccans kept immigrating to France, many to work in the agricultural as well as industrial sectors. This wave continued until the 1973 Oil Crisis around the world, after which the weakened French economy could not absorb more immigrants. Furthermore, unemployment had hit much of the French population, leading to increased racism and xenophobia.

As a result, the attention of Moroccan immigrants turned toward other European countries such as Holland, Belgium, Germany and Scandinavian countries. But many of these potential destination countries had by this stage restrictive entry measures, introducing visas since the ‘80s. As a result, more southern-placed European countries such as Spain and Italy became destination countries for migrants, after they arrived but could not continue northward.

During the last twenty years, Morocco has received its own big immigration wave of Africans, who have arrived, dreaming of reaching Europe. But the strong security measures now established by almost all European countries, including Spain, have turned Morocco into a destination country, with many of these migrants choosing to settle in Morocco, the coast of Spain visible but unreachable on the horizon.

This migratory evolution means that Morocco knows all about being a country of origin, of transit and of destination, leaving an indelible print on the nation’s psyche. Hence it increasingly seeks to cooperate with European countries on the matter, having learned through experience and realising—perhaps more than most others—how immigration is a structural phenomenon that can’t be resolved only by security measures. The Global Compact on Migration is what Morocco has been looking for. But how many other countries will follow through with this new vision on how to handle migration?

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Q&A: Making Green Growth a Success Across the Globehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-making-green-growth-success-across-globe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-making-green-growth-success-across-globe http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-making-green-growth-success-across-globe/#respond Thu, 13 Dec 2018 09:08:01 +0000 Sohara Mehroze Shachi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159218 IPS Correspondent Sohara Mehroze Shachi interviews DR. FRANK RIJSBERMAN, Director General of the Global Green Growth Institute at COP24

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Global Green Growth Institute’s Director General Frank Rijsberman at COP24. GGGI is organising over 15 events at the conference focused on low carbon development, green finance, transparency, capacity development of countries to address climate change etc. Credit: Sohara Mehroze Shachi/IPS

By Sohara Mehroze Shachi
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 13 2018 (IPS)

When the Global Green Growth Institute’s (GGGI) Director General Frank Rijsberman’s son was looking for a job following graduation, he saw that oil companies were paying the highest salaries. But Rijsberman, who has been working in the sustainable development sector for decades, knew better. He told his son that those very same oil companies would soon go broke. And instead advised him to seek employment with renewable energy companies as they would soon be the ones making money.

As head of GGGI, it is undoubtable that Rijsberman has expert insight into the future of the renewable energy sector. GGGI supports governments around the world transition to environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economic growth by helping them mobilise finance for climate action and implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) i.e. country commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.

With a career spanning over 30 years, Rijsberman is one of the strongest advocates of green growth attending the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland. His organisation is organising over 15 events at the conference that are focused on, among other things, how low carbon development, green finance, transparency and capacity development of countries can address climate change.

Amidst his packed COP24 schedule, Rijsberman sat down with IPS for a brief interview on the state of global climate action, COP24 and the work of GGGI in attaining green growth.

Excerpts from the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): Climate finance has been one of the sticking points at COP24 so far. Developing countries are concerned that the developed world is shifting the role of financial contributions to the private sector. What are your thoughts on this?

Dr. Frank Rijsberman (FR): Firstly, there needs to be a clean definition of the 100 billion dollars climate finance pledged to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). This 100 billion shouldn’t be diluted. We need this 100 billion to be clean and green. But at the same time, this is only a small part of what we need to fight climate change. We need trillions, and for that public finance is not enough. This will only come about if we get the institutional investors off the sideline and get the pension funds, the private sector to engage.

IPS: What are some of the challenges that now exist with regards to engaging the private sector in funding green growth and how can they be engaged more effectively?

FR: It starts with many of the governments not even realising that renewable energy has become commercially viable. They still think green growth is nice but it is expensive and [they] can’t afford it. It is already commercially viable to use solar-based batteries for instance, so there is a business case there. So convincing people that these are commercially attractive investments is the first thing that needs to be done. If structured well enough, [as in the case of] Bangladesh offering 20-year power purchase agreement at a reasonable price, then we can attract private investors.

Governments also must create an enabling environment for the private sector to engage and have a level playing field for renewables to attract those investments. If there are barriers, such as fossil fuel subsidies, it becomes very hard for private businesses to make a living out of renewables. In Fiji, for instance, the government subsidises dirty electricity for poor households. Stopping that subsidy and turning it into a subsidy for solar power on the roofs of low income houses is one of our projects.

IPS: Two months ago, the IPCC released a report that confirmed that accepting increased global warming of 2 degrees Celsius will impact severely lives, livelihoods and natural ecosystems. This means drastic changes are needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Is it achievable here?

FR: It has to be finance first. Then we need to agree on transparency. We also need to ramp up ambition and rather than to waver from their NDCs countries need to step up their commitments, but that is for next year. We need to agree on the rulebook and get over the hurdle of finance at this COP then everybody’s attention will focus on more ambition, which is what we need. If we get stuck on the Paris rulebook or finance then we also don’t get to the 1.5 degrees, so it is like a house of cards.

IPS: Transparency is one of the key issues being debated at COP24. What are your thoughts on it?

FR: Transparency is the code word for Article 6. Part of it means developed countries reporting in a credible way. And for developing countries it also means to save their rainforests, to restore their mangrove areas – can they get money to pay for that? There are countries like Korea or Australia that can’t reduce their emissions fast enough, but they are willing to buy carbon credits. But then we need to agree on a rulebook for transparency – how are we going to report, what kind of Monitoring Reporting and Verification Systems (MRVS) are necessary, and those MRVS shouldn’t overly burden countries like Myanmar.

We can’t have the same kind of rulebook for Myanmar and Germany [and] shouldn’t make the barriers to access very high. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) felt they were excluded because [these processes] were too complicated. So, this time around transparency needs to allow the Least Developed Countries and SIDS to really access that. That is the critical sticking point.

IPS: Your organisation assists member states, which include developing nations, access funding from the GCF. It has also assisted member countries in developing green growth models to great success. Are you seeing an increased commitment from governments, in both developing and developed nations, to embrace green growth? What is your vision for GGGI going ahead from COP24?

FR: We are very proud that we supported Fiji in developing one of the first low emission development scenarios, which they are presenting here at COP. Last year we worked with Fiji to have their NDC roadmap. This is just an example of the kind of things we do. We also work with many developing countries in getting more concrete action plan for NDCs. We are growing very rapidly.

We only started six years ago with 12 countries and now 30 countries have ratified our treaty and another 30 are in the queue to become members. When our President Ban Ki-moon meets ministers he encourages them to take green growth more seriously, then those ministers contact us about how they can do so.

We also see a lot of good opportunities from the SIDS.

In South East Asia – Vietnam, Indonesia – there is a large portfolio of planned new coal fired power plants. So, these are the hotspots and we need to convince those governments that green growth is commercially attractive and feasible. We are very happy with Indonesia’s commitment for green growth and we are strongly supporting Vietnam’s government to convert their intent to climate action.

I have worked on sustainable development forever, and for the longest time Ministries of Finance had no time for us, saying ‘Sorry we are poor, we need to grow and we will worry about the environment later’. Even INDCs were owned by the Ministries of Environment and the Ministries of Finance didn’t know about them.

Now the Finance Ministers who want growth are interested in green growth, integrating these ideas into mainstream national development planning. For instance, we helped Uganda develop the green growth development strategy which the ministry of finance is leading. That is what I am most excited about. We have finally convinced ministries of finance to take green growth seriously.

The post Q&A: Making Green Growth a Success Across the Globe appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

IPS Correspondent Sohara Mehroze Shachi interviews DR. FRANK RIJSBERMAN, Director General of the Global Green Growth Institute at COP24

The post Q&A: Making Green Growth a Success Across the Globe appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Why Did You Come to Marrakech?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/why-did-you-come-to-marrakech/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-did-you-come-to-marrakech http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/why-did-you-come-to-marrakech/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 21:57:39 +0000 Zainab Aboulfaraj http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159338 The whole world met at Marrakech, Morocco, during the two days of the Global Compact for Migration. IPS met six people to ask what led them to come to this international event.

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By Zainab Aboulfaraj
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

The whole world met at Marrakech, Morocco, during the two days of the Global Compact for Migration. IPS met six people to ask what led them to come to this international event.

Kostas Stamoulis, assistant director-general at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO).
“This is a big event, this is a Compact that is signed by a big number of countries. It looks at migration as a potential force for development, so migration cannot be resolved by one country alone because it involves many countries. The only way that we have a clear way forward on migration will be through an intergovernmental agreement. This is it. It was produced mainly by governments and other stakeholders, such as civil society, the UN, etc. It’s an intergovernmental document. The governments plan to make migration a choice rather than a necessity, that’s the idea.”

Claudine Mahoro, Rwandese journalist:
“Rwanda also has migrants, because migrants are not only coming from Africa to Europe, but there’s also migrants that come to our country from places like Congo. People need to know what’s going on and what the pact is about. How is it going to give them rights?”

Lawrence Egulu, working at the Ugandese Ministry of Labor and Social Development
“In Uganda, we believe in multilateralism, we need to do this together. This Global Compact is part of a globalization project. Migration is a big component of globalization. If it’s about moving from one country to another, then we have to handle it as members of a United Nations country, as part of a global village—we want to be part of the Global Compact.”

Cilene Victore, Brazilian reporter at TV Cultura and professor of journalism at a college from Sao Paulo.
“I’m here as a journalist of course, but as a professor too. It’s important to put the humanity before the discussion about policy makers. You can give more voice to the people who suffered. It’s important to come because there’s a discussion, people are talking about the New York Declaration. We are living the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of the second war, and why?”

Wael Maaninou, Moroccan student in politics and journalist for Radio Migration.
“I’m here in Marrakech to cover the events on migration for almost 10 days. We had a lot of programs to do with migrants’ rights and we have done a lot of interviews, and took a lot of declarations. I’m here also because I need this as a future journalist, or whatever I’ll be in the future, to see how the wold works, the diplomacy, how the UN works. As a student, it may give me some opportunities to do further training, if I stay in touch with some people. I met with a lot of journalists from all around the world. “

Houda Hasswane, Moroccan freelance journalist based in Istanbul.
“I came to this pact because I’m a freelance journalist. I worked a lot on subjects about migration and migrants, here and in other countries. The journalist must be informed, be aware of everything going on. We have to study this pact. We have to know which countries adopted or didn’t adopt this Global Compact in order to follow up after the end of this international UN event, to see the impact.”

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GCM Adoption: An Approval for Change or Business as Usual?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/gcm-adoption-approval-change-business-usual/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gcm-adoption-approval-change-business-usual http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/gcm-adoption-approval-change-business-usual/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 20:24:38 +0000 Chahreddine Berriah http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159212 The Global Compact on Migration is now official. But what next? To get a better idea, IPS spoke to journalists and representatives of civil society attending the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) conference to find out their views on what it might achieve when to comes to “safe, orderly and regular migration.” […]

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Journalist Amel Morandi is particularly concerned with the voluntary aspect of the Compact as it does not place legal obligations on States. Courtesy: Chahreddine Berriah

By Chahreddine Berriah
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

The Global Compact on Migration is now official. But what next? To get a better idea, IPS spoke to journalists and representatives of civil society attending the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) conference to find out their views on what it might achieve when to comes to “safe, orderly and regular migration.”

“I participated in many workshops during this event, and I found that really just Africans and to a lesser extent, Europeans, are interested in this pact,” says Nadjoua Rahem, an Algerian journalist.

“As for the pact itself, I do not expect much, despite its approval—we all know that the States present in Marrakech have previously signed all the laws guaranteeing peace and respect for human rights, but in reality, these states do not respect what they have signed and approved.”

She says that nothing much will change, considering the polarised political posturing that characterised the lead up to the conference to adopt the compact, with some United Nations member countries opting out.

“After this approval, does that mean that tomorrow: ‘I will be able to move freely?’ That is how the migrant thinks,” says Djatche Armel, a Cameroonian host for online radio Air Dumboa. “To me, nothing will change. Moreover, very few migrants, the majority of whom are Francophone, do not understand the content of this Compact written in English. Personally, I have little hope for a better life for migrants.”

The GCM, according to the U.N., covers all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. It was born out of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted unanimously by the U.N. General Assembly in 2016, and is the culmination of 18 months of discussions and consultations among member States, and other actors, including national and local officials, civil society, private and public sectors and migrants themselves.

It provides a platform for cooperation on migration, and in the words of Louise Arbour, U.N. Special Representative for International Migration, the GCM is “cooperative—not binding, and a reaffirmation of collective commitments to national sovereignty and to universal human rights in the pursuit of an approach to international migration that benefits all.”

Amel Mohandi, a journalist, is particularly concerned with this voluntary aspect of the Compact. If it does not place legal obligations on States, she says, “there won’t be a big impact because the States that adopt the document will not be forced to apply it.”

Mohadi adds that making the Compact a success “is not just a political issue but requires civil society mobilisation and journalist capacity building to report informatively to eliminate prejudices and hatred.”

Ahmad Belkhir, a human rights activist, is optimistic, though, and says that the sheer number of countries represented at the conference—more than 160—is “a sign that the subject of migration is important to them.”

“I really think that the articles contained in this Compact are beneficial for migrants who will rely on them to obtain their rights. Although many believe that States will not fully respect what they have approved, I am sure that many of them will change their migration policies. It’s a big step and that’s why we have to be optimistic,” Belkhir says.

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Q&A: How Will the Global Compact for Migration Aid the Work of Civil Societyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-will-global-compact-migration-aid-work-civil-society/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-will-global-compact-migration-aid-work-civil-society http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-will-global-compact-migration-aid-work-civil-society/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 19:42:35 +0000 Steven Nsamaza http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159207 IPS correspondent Steven Nsamaza interviews CLAUDIA INTERIANO from Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democratico de Derecho

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Claudia Interiano from Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democratico de Derecho, a Latin American organisation that works to access justice for persons killed or missing during transit through Mexico to the United States. Credit: Steven Nsamaza/IPS

By Steven Nsamaza
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

Claudia Interiano from Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democratico de Derecho, a Latin American organisation that works to access justice for persons killed or missing during transit through Mexico to the United States, spoke to IPS about the foreseeable future of migration in a world after the end of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) conference.

Inter Press Service (IPS): What does your organisation do?

Claudia Interiano (CI): My organisation works to access justice—we seek to restore human rights for migrants, for people who have disappeared during journeys, particularly women, and we are also part of the Latin American Block, a network of non-governmental organisations in the region.

IPS: Following the adoption of the Global Compact on Migration, what is the way forward?

CI: That is a good question and a big one. For us, we have been working on all of these things, women issues, people who disappear, human rights of migrants and their families, for many years. What the Global Compact for Migration means for us is that it is a tool, because the whole world has been negotiating and having conversations that have now advanced. Before, migration has not been taken as importantly as it needs to be.

From here, we go back to our countries and will have to sit down with the states of origin, the states of transit and the states of destination involved in migration. As every state has its own difficulties, we as the civil society need to ask for the introduction of these policies the governments have agreed in Marrakesh and laid out by the GCM.

For example, objective eight of the Compact concerns the exchange of information about people who disappear, and trying to save lives through coordinated international efforts. We are going to ask governments to support the rights of migrants, and to ask what their polices are going to be to represent people’s voices in each country.

IPS: Will the Global Compact for Migration help your work as a civil society organisation?

CI: Yes, I think so. It’s going to be a tool, not a solution for all the problems we have in our countries. The Global Compact for Migration will be a way to push governments to ask them to implement what they agreed to, because it is their responsibility.

IPS: The Global Compact for Migration is not legally binding, so how will it work?

CI: That is an interesting thing, and that could be an advantage because it starts political discussions and agreements. It starts the conversation: it is like the first step to the development of migration that the world needs. In the beginning, it may not work as it should: some governments may not want to commit. But at least they will have started the conversation.

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Excerpt:

IPS correspondent Steven Nsamaza interviews CLAUDIA INTERIANO from Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democratico de Derecho

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Final Thoughts as the Global Compact for Migration Starts its Own Long Journey Against the Oddshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/final-thoughts-global-compact-migration-starts-long-journey-odds/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=final-thoughts-global-compact-migration-starts-long-journey-odds http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/final-thoughts-global-compact-migration-starts-long-journey-odds/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 18:39:28 +0000 Steven Nsamaza http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159205 As the red carpets are rolled up in Marrakesh after two days of intense declarations and commitments by more than 160 countries, what are the smaller players in this global phenomenon taking back with them? During the final presentations concluding the two-day Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), assuring voices were heard […]

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Louise Arbour, the U.N. Special Representative for International Migration, urged those who were still sceptical of the Compact to reread it, very carefully, and form their own opinion. Courtesy: Global Compact for Migration

By Steven Nsamaza
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

As the red carpets are rolled up in Marrakesh after two days of intense declarations and commitments by more than 160 countries, what are the smaller players in this global phenomenon taking back with them?

During the final presentations concluding the two-day Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), assuring voices were heard on the future of migration, while also trying to counter misinformation about the content of the GCM document.

“We came here with a clear goal and we have achieved it,” says María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the United Nations General Assembly.

Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Minister and also President of the GCM Conference, declared that the GCM has “breathed new life” into the migration issue, while acknowledging it still remains for the Compact to be implemented by U.N. Member States.  

Louise Arbour, the U.N. Special Representative for International Migration, urged those who were still sceptical of the Compact to reread it, very carefully, and form their own opinion, taking heed of the U.N. Secretary-General’s points about dispelling the myths surrounding the overall issue of migration.

“For the first time in the history of the United Nations, we have been able to tackle an issue that was long seen as out of bounds for a truly concerted global effort,” says Arbour, noting that there is probably no principle more fundamental in international affairs than the geographic allocation of space on the planet, confirmed by the universal recognition of State sovereignty.

Inter-governmental consultations are expected to continue up to Dec. 19, when the Compact will formally be adopted. Then it will be reviewed every four years, starting in 2022.

“The Global Compact for Migration is a new promise and history will be the judge,” Bourita says.

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Q&A: The Global Compact that Respects Human Rights During all Stages of Migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-global-compact-respects-human-rights-stages-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-global-compact-respects-human-rights-stages-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-global-compact-respects-human-rights-stages-migration/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 14:44:31 +0000 Youssef Lakhder http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159193 IPS Correspondent Youssef Lakhder spoke to YOUNOUS ARBAOUI, advocacy and coordination officer at the National Migrant Protection Platform (PNPM)

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By Youssef Lakhder
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

Amid the hustle and bustle of the two-day Global Compact for Migration, IPS spoke to Younous Arbaoui, advocacy and coordination officer at the National Migrant Protection Platform (PNPM), about the importance of the GCM in tackling the migration challenge that the world faces.  

Inter Press Service (IPS): What is National Migrant Protection Platform (PNPM)?

Younous Arbaoui (YA): Formed in 2009, the National Migrant Protection the National Migrant Protection Platform (known by its French acronym PNPM) is a network of civil society associations working on and advocating for migration. Thanks to their fieldwork, the PNPM capitalises on information it receives to advocate for the human rights of migrants. We work on three main axes: the first is the legal protection of migrants, the second is the protection of children, and the third is access to health services. Recently we started working on access to socio-professional training and to employment.

IPS: What is the purpose of your network’s in Morocco?

YA: We focus on advocacy, so we do not provide direct services to migrants. We advocate for their rights, such as the right of justice that is still not effective in Morocco. We also engage in dialogue with ministers, particularly on health, to encourage the authorities to provide access to health services for migrants, especially secondary and tertiary services, which are not yet guaranteed. When it comes to child protection, we advocate for the rights of children, such as the right to identity. This was achieved recently, with the Minister of Health issuing a ministerial letter explaining the need to give birth notices to ensure children can confirm their identities.

IPS: What are the benefits of the adopted Global Compact for Migration?

YA: The pact, even if it is not legally binding, is a document of reference for us as an advocacy player, and as Morocco welcomed this conference, it will have a moral obligation to respect and implement it. Usually we refer to the convention of human rights, but now it is possible to also use the Compact, especially with regard to accessing services, as objective 15 recommends States provide basic services to migrants no matter their status. It’s true that things won’t change immediately, it takes time.

IPS: What will change at the global level?

YA: The Pact emphasises global collaboration between states on migration. Some people are criticising the pact as they say it will only help countries in the North and not those in the South, because it will facilitate the readmission and return of migrants who are, for example, in Europe. That’s true, but the readmission and return process must respect human rights, also, and so it is good the Compact deals with this. We are not advocating for migrants to be returned, but that when this happens that their rights are still respected. The good thing about the pact is that it says the human rights of migrants must be respected during all the stages of the migratory process, from the country of origin right up to and including any return process.

IPS: How do you react to accusations that some NGOs receive money to prevent migrants [from leaving Morocco]?

YA: Yes, it is true that this accusation exists—they say that civil society receives money from the European Union to hold migrants in Morocco. But it is an old story that should be dismissed. Morocco has been a country of reception for several years, and the fact that the Kingdom has introduced a policy for national asylum and a migration strategy to integrate them, and the fact our associations help migrants here in Morocco, is testament that the accusation is unfounded.

Let us not forget that the way to Europe is dangerous. There are a lot of migrants who die at sea, and this factor should not be forgotten. Contrary to the accusation, what should be noted are the humanist efforts by the associations and the State, who try by all means to save migrant lives. The control of Morocco’s maritime borders is the country’s responsibility, and so carrying that out does not make the country one of the constables of Europe. We must not see things like that, because doing this saves lives.

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Excerpt:

IPS Correspondent Youssef Lakhder spoke to YOUNOUS ARBAOUI, advocacy and coordination officer at the National Migrant Protection Platform (PNPM)

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New Science Shows Climate-Smart Farming is Within Reachhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/new-science-shows-climate-smart-farming-within-reach/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-science-shows-climate-smart-farming-within-reach http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/new-science-shows-climate-smart-farming-within-reach/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 14:34:59 +0000 Godefroy Grosjean http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159203 Godefroy Grosjean is Asia Climate Policy Hub Leader, International Center for Tropical Agriculture

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Godefroy Grosjean is Asia Climate Policy Hub Leader, International Center for Tropical Agriculture

By Godefroy Grosjean
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

Until the United Nations climate talks in Bonn last year, no clear plan to include agriculture in climate negotiations existed.

This was troubling, considering agriculture contributes 19-29% of global greenhouse gases, and changing temperatures are making it harder to farm. This is having an increasingly prominent effect on food security — hunger levels have now risen for the third year in a row.

The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, which was agreed this time last year, paves the way for two technical bodies to work together to identify solutions on how the agriculture sector can be part of the solution to climate change.

The question is where to begin.

This week at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland, an international team of researchers laid out a climate-friendly blueprint for agriculture’s future.

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture and the World Bank launched a global synthesis of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices, which provides our clearest view yet as to how the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers can reduce their carbon footprint, increase yields and adapt to climate change.

Built from the on-the-ground observations of 1,500 scientists and experts in 33 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, the report outlines which site-specific interventions work under which circumstances.

This enables governments, development agencies, private investors – and, crucially, individual farmers and producers’ organizations – to tailor CSA practices to their specific goals and challenges.

Identifying “best-bet” CSA approaches

Our study shows that half of the 1,700 CSA we evaluated fall into just five categories: water management, crop tolerance to stress, intercropping, organic fertilization and pest control, and conservation agriculture. This demonstrates that stakeholders are beginning to find consensus on what they consider climate-smart agriculture.

The study also reveals that many climate-smart agriculture techniques can deliver on all three pillars of CSA: adaptation, mitigation and productivity.

Five technology clusters were ranked in the top 10 for climate-smartness in all three categories: tree management, improved pastures, silvopasture, conservation agriculture and water management.

No one-size-fits-all solutions

The report provides crucial insights when faced with the reality that the majority of smallholders do not yet practice CSA: while interventions are generally similar, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A technique considered climate-smart in one context is not necessarily climate-smart in another.

The top climate-smart agriculture practices are different in the three continents. In Latin America and the Caribbean smartest technique was silvopasture, whereas intercropping ranked top in Africa. In Asia, biogas harnessing was considered to be the most climate-smart intervention.

Efforts to step up extension are required

While finance is still a barrier to investment in CSA, it is not necessarily the biggest obstacle. The report shows that training and information are actually bigger barriers to CSA implementation. Efforts to scale up CSA interventions, therefore, should focus on delivering expert know-how to farmers that are likely to adopt new practices.

The CSA profiles are an effective entry point to unlock discussions and actions on CSA. They should, however, be embedded within a broader suite of prioritization approaches for CSA interventions.

To support this, CIAT has prepared sub-national climate risks profiles and economic assessments to develop climate smart investment plans (CSIPs). Plans should look beyond on-farm practices and develop strategies that increase the resilience of the whole agricultural value chain, while reducing emissions and improving livelihoods.

CIAT, CCAFS and its partners such as the World Bank are particularly committed to providing support to decision-making to make this agricultural transformation a success.

CSIPs and our better understanding of site-specific CSA interventions will help re-shape the landscape, quite literally. If the future of the world is going to be carbon neutral, nothing less than a large-scale transformation of farming is needed.

For the vast majority of the world’s farmers, this means adopting climate-smart strategies. And for those who have yet start – or those seeking to help them begin – they now have a clearer set of guidelines than ever before.

The post New Science Shows Climate-Smart Farming is Within Reach appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Godefroy Grosjean is Asia Climate Policy Hub Leader, International Center for Tropical Agriculture

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Bamboo — the Magic Bullet to Rapid Carbon Sequestration?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/bamboo-magic-bullet-rapid-carbon-sequestration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bamboo-magic-bullet-rapid-carbon-sequestration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/bamboo-magic-bullet-rapid-carbon-sequestration/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 06:58:20 +0000 Isaiah Esipisu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159177 As thousands of environmental technocrats, policy makers and academics work round the clock to come up with strategies for mitigation and adaptation to climate change at the United Nations’ conference in Katowice, Poland, one scientist is asking Parties to consider massive bamboo farming as a simple but rapid way of sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. […]

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Dr. Hans Friederich, the Director General of the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) is calling on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiators to acknowledge bamboo as an important crop that can rapidly sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

By Isaiah Esipisu
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

As thousands of environmental technocrats, policy makers and academics work round the clock to come up with strategies for mitigation and adaptation to climate change at the United Nations’ conference in Katowice, Poland, one scientist is asking Parties to consider massive bamboo farming as a simple but rapid way of sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.

“According to the Guinness Book of Records, bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world,” said Dr. Hans Friederich, the Director General of the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR).

Bamboo is actually a giant grass plant in the family of Poaceae. Some species grow tall and many people refer to them as bamboo trees.

And because it is a grass, if you cut it, it grows back so quickly, making it one of the most the ideal crop for rapid actions in terms of sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, according to Friederich, who has a PhD in groundwater hydrochemistry.

Depending on the species, bamboo can reach full maturity in one to five years, making it perhaps the only tree-like plant that can keep up with the rate of human consumption in terms of fuel, timber and deforestation, according to experts. This is unlike hardwood trees, which can take up to 40 years to grow to maturity.

The latest International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report points out that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.

That calls for mitigation measures. And currently many countries prefer investment in forestry and reforestation mitigation.

Under normal circumstances, trees absorb carbon, and therefore it forms part of the weight of its biomass, but they take several years to do so. But when they are cut down and burned for fuel, the carbon escapes back into the atmosphere.

But now, Friederich believes that with bamboos in place people will not need to cut down trees for charcoal production because despite of it being a grass, it produces excellent charcoal that has been equated to charcoal from trees such as the acacia, eucalyptus and Chinese Fir.

“Apart from charcoal, there are many other long-lasting products that can be made from bamboo, and while they remain intact, they hold onto carbon the giant grass sequestered while still on the farm,” he told IPS in an interview at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24). Today on Dec. 12 INBAR hosted a side event at COP24 titled “Bamboo and Rattan for Greening the Belt and Road where the organisation shared its successful experiences and Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Representative on Climate Change, said that bamboo could become part of China’s new Emissions Trading Scheme.

At the event, Director of Policy and Programme at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Martin Frick, said that bamboo and the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change agenda went hand in hand. He also emphasised the importance of bamboo as a source of income: 10 million people in China alone are employed in the bamboo sector. 

In China, bamboo is used for making drainage pipes, shells for transport vehicles, wind turbine blades, and shipping containers, among other things. It can also be used for making long-lasting furniture, parquet tiles, door and window frames and can even be used in the textile industry, among many other things.

Already, bamboo is slowly gaining popularity in some parts of the world due to its fast growth, and ability to produce long-lasting products.

Victor Mwanga retired from Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi in 2007 where he was a transport manager for a private company. He decided to start a bamboo seed production business which he called Tiriki Tropical Farms and Gardens. He is currently based in Tiriki, Vihiga County in Kenya’s Western Province.

“I receive customers from different parts of the county,” he told IPS in a telephone interview. “This thing [bamboo] has really gained popularity to a point that we are not able to satisfy the market,” said the farmer who sells each bamboo seedling for two to three dollars, depending on the size.

Wilbur Ottichilo, the Governor of Vihiga County, told IPS that his government is already investing in bamboo production. “We have started by training communities in various parts of the county on the importance of growing bamboo, and how they can make easy money from the crop,” he said.

And now, because of its fast growth and ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, Friederich is calling on theUNFCCC negotiators to acknowledge bamboo as an important crop that can rapidly sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

“We are already discussing with the secretariat of the UNFCCC and the IPCC to include bamboo into the language,” he said. In some cases, he added, countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana have included bamboo in their environment, climate change and renewable energy strategies.

However, said the scientist, this calls for governments to develop policy frameworks that will allow things to happen, looking at incentives to support the private sector, build capacity – train people so they know better how to make bamboo products and roll out small and medium enterprises.

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Time to Follow EU’s Lead & Step Up Climate Action with 2050 Planshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/time-follow-eus-lead-step-climate-action-2050-plans/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=time-follow-eus-lead-step-climate-action-2050-plans http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/time-follow-eus-lead-step-climate-action-2050-plans/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 06:53:27 +0000 Manish Bapna and Stephen Gold http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159191 Manish Bapna is Executive Vice President and Managing Director at the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Stephen Gold is the Global Lead, Climate Change, at UN Development Programme (UNDP)

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Since 2009, the Ministry of Railways has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to adopt a range of energy efficient technologies that can support the vision of an environment-friendly rail network for India. The partnership is supported by the Global Environment Facility. Credit: Dhiraj Singh/UNDP India

By Manish Bapna and Stephen Gold
NEW YORK, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

As climate negotiators, experts and activists are gathering in Katowice, Poland, for the international climate talks, much of the focus will be on immediate issues. Laying down the ground rules of the 2015 Paris Agreement and wrapping up the first global review of countries’ progress to date are high on the agenda.

But increasingly countries are also looking to set long-term climate goals to achieve the deep emissions reductions needed by mid-century to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Last week, the European Commission unveiled an ambitious plan to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050. The European Commission set a target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, while putting forward a detailed vision to achieve a prosperous, modern and competitive economy.

Given the EU’s leading role in the global economy and the fact that it’s the world’s third-largest emitter—this represents one of the most important long-term climate strategies released thus far.

The 28-nation European Union bloc joins Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, United Kingdom and United States among G20 governments which have unveiled long-term low-emission development strategies.

In addition, the Marshall Islands, Ukraine and Czech Republic recently committed to long-term decarbonization plans. Despite this progress, most countries have yet to develop long-term strategies, which are a critical step that should be taken by 2020 to achieve the Paris Agreement goals.

The case for shifting to a low-carbon economy is strong and growing stronger. Smart expenditures in low-carbon infrastructure, energy, urban development and land could generate economic gains in the range of $26 trillion through 2030, compared with business-as-usual, according to The New Climate Economy. And this is a conservative estimate.

The world is projected to invest $90 trillion in infrastructure between 2010 and 2030, so governments use-it-or-lose-it moment to capitalize on these low-carbon opportunities.

Why do long-term strategies matter?

First, long-term strategies can guide policymakers toward smarter short-term decisions—such as around energy subsidies, infrastructure spending and urban planning– and avoid locking-in investments in infrastructure and technologies that could become stranded assets.

Consider an example where a government invests in natural gas infrastructure as a bridge solution to reduce carbon emissions, only to find the plummeting costs of solar panels and battery storage make renewable energy a more cost-effective investment.

Second, long-term strategies provide a platform for governments to engage citizens on what a long term, low-emission and high-growth trajectory could look like and build public support to realize these goals.

Third, long-term strategies can help countries to set ambitious greenhouse gas mitigation targets that reflect the latest science. Just as every tenth of a degree of warming matters to human health, incremental warming will also have a tremendous impact on the planet’s health– leading to more severe wildfires, heat waves, crop failure and sea level rise, according to the recent special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C.

The new Emissions Gap report, from the UN Environment Programme, assesses the current national mitigation efforts of the G20 countries, and finds they are far off-track from the temperature goals set out under the Paris Agreement. Clearly much more ambition is needed.

Responsible for 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the G20 countries have a special duty to show the world that the goals of the Paris Agreement can be achieved.

At this year’s G20 Summit led by Argentina, long term strategies were noted in the final communique. These should be taken forward by Japan, which will take on the leadership of the G20 next year.

The U.N. Secretary General’s Climate Change Summit in September will be another key moment when countries can signal their commitment to the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

The scientific case and the economic benefits of action are clear, yet the world is still looking for far more leaders to step forward on climate change. All countries, especially the largest emitters, should follow the EU’s example by establishing ambitious mid-century goals and a clear path to achieve them.

The post Time to Follow EU’s Lead & Step Up Climate Action with 2050 Plans appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Manish Bapna is Executive Vice President and Managing Director at the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Stephen Gold is the Global Lead, Climate Change, at UN Development Programme (UNDP)

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Radio Migration – the Station with a Different Message about Migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/radio-migration-station-different-message-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=radio-migration-station-different-message-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/radio-migration-station-different-message-migration/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 19:40:24 +0000 Moez Jemai http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159180 The topic of migration has been beaming across the airwaves of Marrakech, Morocco, to bring light to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration conference (GCM) and all its myriad components. Organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other international organisations, Radio Migration began broadcasting on Dec. 4, […]

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Radio Migration aims to raise awareness of the importance of the central topic and those in the middle of it: migration and migrants. Courtesy: Radio Migration

By Moez Jemai
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

The topic of migration has been beaming across the airwaves of Marrakech, Morocco, to bring light to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration conference (GCM) and all its myriad components.

Organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other international organisations, Radio Migration began broadcasting on Dec. 4, ahead of the conference, covering various side activities and events organised by local and international civil society components, and by migrant rights activists.

Now that the conference is underway—and the Compact has been adopted, as of the morning of Dec. 10—the station’s programmes are focusing on decisions and issues as they happen. It all aims to raise awareness of the importance of the central topic and those in the middle of it: migration and migrants.

“The radio station has a clearly defined focus on migration from a human rights perspective, in order to ensure recognition and dissemination of migrants’ rights,” says the radio station project’s coordinator Mohyi El Ghattass, who notes how the station was given a special dispensation by the government.

“We obtained a formal and temporary authorisation from the Moroccan government, because community radio stations of this country do not yet have licenses to broadcast on FM radio.”

The radio employs 20 people, comprising Maghrebi nationalities from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, who received special training on covering thematic migration issues. This team of technicians and journalists has been broadcasting for 8 hours a day while covering a panorama of migration-related events happening around the city both before and during the GCM.

The station’s editorial approach has been to disseminate information that addresses both civil society and government actors to create a positive debate and spur evaluation of the factors involved in order to benefit the overall issue at stake.

The station has also striven to create open dialogue between different parties involved on migration issues by hosting independent experts, official organisations and activists involved in the rights of migrants, as well as discussing causes of migration and how they relate to specific groups such as women and young people.

Such an approach makes for a contrast with much of the reporting about migrants in mainstream media around the world, much of which focuses on stereotypes and negative narratives, says Carolina Gottardo with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Australia, one of the 400 civil society groups that has come to Marrakech to be involved in the conference and its discussion on migration.

One element of this radio station’s operation, which sets it apart from the other 700 registered media at the conference, is the involvement of a number of migrants in the editorial team to ensure the migrants’ concerns both directly influence the station’s programs and are addressed by broadcast content. The station has also opened its shows to several different nationalities to talk about the particularities of migration across different countries.

But the station’s policy of inclusive employment for migrants doesn’t mean those individuals are reassured by the Compact they are reporting on.

“Will the migrant move freely where he wants and with dignity after this? No,” says Armel, a Cameroon migrant and volunteer facilitator at Radio Migration. “For me, nothing will change. The pact itself is written in English, while the majority of migrants are francophones, so we do not control what is in this long text.”

When it comes to ownership of its own message, the station has striven to maintain its independence.

“Independence is a fundamental principle for the success of the radio station achieving its objective of delivering good quality news about its subject matter,” Ghattass says.

This means, he says, the station has avoided political or religious angles influencing its migration coverage, an aspect that many are increasingly concerned about when it comes to how immigration stories are often shaped in the global press.

“Always include the voice of migrants and civil society for fair reporting,” Gottardo says. “Use the term undocumented or irregular migrant rather than illegal—the vast majority of the world’s migrants are regular.”

“I find that, in general, journalists tend to opt for the sensational news rather than to go to the bottom things, Abel says. “And then, the speech can be hateful and does not push for improving the situation of migrants.”

Those involved with the station hope it ultimately underlines the importance and role of community media in defending human rights.

The station became the voice of civil society that is concerned by immigration issues,” says Jalal al-Makhfy, a volunteer radio journalist from another Moroccan station who has been producing a daily talk show that features guests from numerous walks of life related to immigration.

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