Sabien in New York met InterParlementaire Unie

Lees hier de voorbereiding van Sabiens tussenkomsten:


 1) Migration today: main facts, agreed principles, and gaps

I refuse to see migration just as a negative thing. If handled decisively and humanely, it can be a success. But this requires common solutions and efforts. Let us not forget the Sustainable Development Goals. They are a global agenda, they require that all countries worldwide put in efforts to tackle global challenges like migration.

We should be aware that ‘the' migrant does not exist. Each individual has his or her story. And we should keep treating migrants for what they are: human beings. This requires collective and orderly, yet humane policies. Migrants now form 3.4 per cent of the world's population. Refugees make up 8% of all migrants, and almost half of them are women and girls. It is often assumed that most migrants are men, but this is not the case.

We cannot realise the SDGs if we do not solve these issues. We need to battle stereotypes, or ‘easy' answers. Finally, we should embrace the concept of circular migration more. Someone may move from point A to B, but it is very possible that after a while he or she goes back home, or keeps moving between places. Migration has existed for thousands of y

2) National policies and local responses: best practices and the need for coordination

On the one hand, I believe migration cannot be solved by individual countries. For example in Europe, Greece and Italy cannot take on the migration crisis on their own. We need a European approach, based on solidarity from all member states. Therefore, the EU should also speak and act much more as a collective when it comes to international development and diplomacy to tackle the underlying factors contributing to the refugee crisis.

At the local level, I think that apart from financial support to local governments, we should try to create support among the general population towards refugees and migrants. As we all know, these topics can create a certain level of panic and worries. We thus need clear-headed policies that are fair yet strictly enforced instead of random or improvised actions.

3) Addressing large movements: domestic initiatives and international cooperation

The sustainable development goals were launched as a global agenda. The classic division between North and South is no longer relevant, since the challenges are universal. Human rights are at the centre of these goals. Managing migration in a humane and transnational way can help us move towards to realisation of the SDGs.

I think development cooperation is very important. However, I want to stress that ultimately, economic development and stable, inclusive governance are the key to unlocking the potential of developing countries. Conflict and corruption, on the other hand, destroy societies.

4) Social cohesion and integration of migrants

Newcomers should be welcomed and integrated as soon as possible. They should receive an education and be able to pursue employment. A lot of countries need young employees to help fill in difficult jobs, and to keep up productivity and industrial output. I point for example to target 8.8 of the SDGs: "Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment."

5) Realizing the human rights of all migrants: a whole-of-government approach

In my view, it is very logical that we need a whole-of-government approach, maybe it's even better to call it a whole-of-society approach. Migration is one of the most pressing political issues, and it is linked to so many domains: climate change, transnational cooperation, education, economic development, et cetera. It demands the active involvement of civil society and the private sector.

We should at all costs avoid that migrants become second-class citizens, or that they fall outside of the rest of society. Integration, therefore, also requires a whole-of-government approach. This firstly means physical protection from harm, exploitation and abuse, and secondly allowing as much as possible a route to a dignified citizenship.

6) From irregular to regular status: common principles and best practices

We need to find answers to the many challenges of migration so we can make this process as orderly as possible. Because we have seen how extremely dangerous or deadly the journey can be. We have seen videos from the slave markets in Libya. Over and over again, we read stories about people dying in the desert, left behind by traffickers. These stories have been around for years and years, and we will keep reading them if we don't act. Women and children are especially vulnerable, so they certainly need protection and support. Migration is not gender-neutral. We cannot just look away from these problems.

7) The political and social participation of migrants in decision-making

Even if the political participation of migrants can be limited until they are full citizens of a country, this does not mean that they should not be granted a voice in our societies. We cannot just talk about these people as ‘them', they should be part of the conversation. Dialogue creates mutual understanding. This dialogue can take many forms, and I think that civil society has an important role to play in this context. When we stay silent, populists and disruptive forces take over and destroy the debate.

8) The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) and follow-up : the role of parliaments

As a member of the Belgian parliament, I am the chair of the Workgroup Parliamentarians for the Agenda 2030. In this workgroup, we have already tackled a variety of topics that are linked to global development. For example: sexual and reproductive health and rights, women's rights, family planning. With every topic, we come to the conclusion that we need a holistic approach, and that it is important that parliaments keep focussing on these global issues. Informal working groups can help strengthen political resolve across party lines. However, politics cannot solve this problem on its own. We need civil society and the private sector working with us to find solutions and implement improvements on the ground. 

 Sabien in New York met InterParlementaire Unie  Sabien in New York met InterParlementaire Unie  Sabien in New York met InterParlementaire Unie