Migration Norm Set: Safe Orderly and Regular Migration

Thomas Mathew Kadavil
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

“Global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration” The Norm on the Build.

"Migrants are humans and not commodities to import and export". Migration is a multifaceted or nebulous process with this human component. Migrations multifarious complexities are due to numerous stake holders- migrant worker and his family, the country of origin, country of destination, foreign employer (Government, Private and Domestic), Recruitment Agents, Middlemen, Traffickers and Visa traders, with “supply-demand “ and “push-pull” factors etc.

“Global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration: towards realizing the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and achieving full respect for the human rights of migrants” was the theme of the recently concluded 10th Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Berlin, Germany.

History teach us any nefarious designs to divide a true nation will boomerang whatever the divisive and invasive ingredients and ideas to torn down. That is what we learn from Germany and its tearing down of Berlin Wall. A city well known for the pain and frustration endured due to the division of the people into four after the Second World War with wall and barbed wires. In a way, this year’s GFMD was a declaration that the walls and barbed wires between nations are to be broken down and the “unity in diversity” should be the norm of nations. The secular pluralistic cosmopolitan societies that will have the beauty of diversity, which will be inclusive, can only make tremendous progress and development.

The discussions were around the Global Compact and how it could be acceptable to all stakeholders of the game of migration, especially under the neoliberal globalised socio political and economic structure, at a time when the crony capital, transnational corporations and finance capital conduct business only for profiteering not into the human aspect of migration. Accumulation of capital and marginalizing the vast majority of the global population by controlling the movement of capital and natural resources for their benefit also is one driving factors contributing to South North migration and South - South migration.

The Permanent Representative to UN (Geneva) Ambassador Rajiv K Chandar and Canceller Anil Kumar Rai represented Indian Government in this year’s GFMD at Berlin. India had a huge responsibility in shaping the Global Compact as it represents almost 10% of the world migrant population.

The drivers of displacement and immigration are in vulnerable situations; including poverty, unemployment, and the lack of good governance, are to be urgently addressed. Climate change impacts are inextricably linked to conflicts across the world— causing so much suffering and displacement—and obliterating livelihoods and dignity. These realities need to be recognised and integrated into global and national economic development strategies.

Human trafficking is one of the most profiteering industries next to arms trade. As the migrants are the most unorganised and exploited worldwide and among them the most vulnerable are migrant women and children. The protection of their rights are of paramount importance to any civilized society and nation.

This year’s GFMD talked much about the migrants on the move, the migration of children looking for better living conditions crossing the borders of the USA from Mexico, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Rohingyas from Burma and refugees and migrants crossing Mediterranean from West Africa to Europe. The young migrants or children are the most vulnerable ones who were disappeared in the migration process, held in detention with no contacts with their family, deported due to lack of documents, refugees of war, survivors of the sea, international students, transnational citizens with dual passport holders etc.

The Global Compact on Migration is aimed at the prosperity and development of the migrants under the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030. The Berlin GFMD discussed threadbare the most essential elements, principles and policies to be part of the Global Compact on Migration. It decided to recommend to the national governments to adopt these elements to be part of their recommendation to safeguard the interest of their migrant populations when it comes to the final adoption and declarations of the Global Contract for Migration in the UN General Assembly in September 2018.

The GFMD envision a Compact and National Plans that include goals, timelines and means for implementation that are ambitious, achievable, and accountable.

First of all the Global Compact should focus on implementing, not simply restating, the hitherto accepted UN and ILO conventions and treaties, multilateral commitments to migrants human rights, to labour rights, that are signed and binding, and apply to migrants across the board.



GFMD find the urgent need for Ethical recruitment, decent jobs and labour mobility with the protection of the labour rights of migrants. Recruitment fees should be borne by the employer, not the migrant worker. To end a huge arena of exploitation, migrant worker visas or residency permits never be tied to one employer. There can be no question about the rights of workers to join and form trade unions and workers organisations. Much more investments needed in decent work and jobs “at home and abroad” as well as more efforts to harmonise qualifications and invest in skills and training for example through vocational partnerships.
Regular pathways and regularization for human mobility should be core to the drive for implementation of the Compact and thus for the Compacts should be the facilitation of human mobility with human rights for all. Better and regular pathways for refugees and migrants need to be created, including increases in resettlement places, humanitarian visa, private sponsorship programs, family reunification, student visa, labour mobility and matching at all skill levels. Such regular pathways reduce the vulnerabilities of migrants and refugees en route, in transit and at the destination.

The Global Compact should develop principles on regularisation - a pathway to secure residency after having lived in the country of immigration for a certain number of years, in the interest of social cohesion and to lift people out of vulnerable and exploitative situations.

Portability of salary, social security benefits, indemnities, pensions etc given to the migrant worker without any hindrance from both the destination countries and the employers.

"Women are NOT by nature vulnerable population" is yet another declaration heard in GFMD. On Migrant Women and their protection emphasized in need of rescue but too often, find themselves in vulnerable situations due to (migration) policies, values and the denial of rights. GFMD unanimously called upon all national governments that they should draw from the UN Women Recommendations on addressing the human rights of women in the Global Compact on Migration.

“The Global Compact on Migration should not become a Global Compact for Deportation” is yet another strong voice heard in GFMD. GFMD had laid out unambiguously clear principles and policy recommendations related to the circular or economic migrants return and reintegration with their societies. The voluntary return should be tailor-made and context specific, and involve a process with true choices, including choosing the moment of return. There should be no deportation of children in no circumstances and they should not be separated from their families.



Policies needed that put an end to the criminalization of migrants, and those who help them. Countries of Destination need to implement practical, available alternatives to detention. Citizens and organizations that help undocumented migrants in need to be admired and protected not criminalised.

The Compact and national policies should include the concept of "firewalls". Firewalls that allow all migrants, regardless of status, to access justice, essential services and complaint mechanisms without fear that will result in their detention or deportation on the basis of their migration status.

"Nothing about Immigrants without Immigrants". Migrants themselves should be meaningfully engaged through consultation and decision-making processes. To change the narrative and perceptions on migration, the migrant's voices need to be uplifted and audible. Civil society has an important role to play in mobilising people and wider solidarity movements on the ground – to stand firm against xenophobia, discrimination, for equality, justice and dignity for all.


Thomas Mathew Kadavil
Author is a social worker in Kuwait.




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