What is People’s Global Action?
Over the past three years since the UN High Level Dialogue on Migration (HLD) and Development in 2006, the CSO engagement outside the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) has grown more vibrant. Each year, hundreds of civil society representatives and members of the general public have participated in parallel events while the official civil society days were held.
In 2008, the Peoples’ Global Action (PGA) on Migration, Development and Human Rights, a parallel event held to the 2008 GFMD, was attended by almost 4,000 delegates for the entire week.
The relationship between the GFMD and the CSO-led processes was not completely separate, nor should it be so. In the 2008 GFMD, for instance, many of the representatives organizing and participating in the PGA were also official delegates to the GFMD.
In 2009, the 3rd GFMD was held 1-5 November in Athens, Greece and CSOs once again organized the Peoples’ Global Action together with local groups in Athens. Independent but parallel to the 3rd GFMD, the PGA brought together groups from around the world to share information, dialogue, strengthen their analysis and develop joint positions on current and emerging issues on migration. The PGA also provided essential space for lobbying and pressuring governments and international bodies to look at migration from a human rights perspective and to make governments accountable to their international human rights and development commitments. The PGA also pave the way for more alliances and widening and strengthening existing networks.
Discussions in the 2009 PGA centered on human rights as the basis for development and explored from a rights-based perspective, the full range of issues involved in migration, including the underlying problems of poverty and injustice, and how CSOs can decisively address these.
It was noted that since the 2007 GFMD, there has been not much improvement in terms of the mechanism, structure and discussion around migration and development. Migration is still being understood through the lens of economic gains, a position that is contrary to the perspectives of migrants and CSOs.
Among CSOs, there was an overwhelming agreement that the GFMD’s “migration and development” theme was meant by governments to be synonymous with “migration for development” and “managed migration”. CSOs felt that the GFMD mandate “migration and development” does not go far enough to affirming the human dignity of migrants and to firmly placing their rights at the center of development. Moreover, the migration-development model calls for an intensification of the segmentation of labour, particularly female labour, which continues to reinforce inequality. The 2009 GFMD again centered on development aspects rather than human rights. Likewise, it remained a closed event with restricted participation by migrants and civil society. The PGA was organized as an alternative venue to enable migrants, social movements, and civil society worldwide to directly respond to current migration and development concerns.
PGA 2009 activities included workshops, public actions and demonstrations and side meetings.