Symposium Report 2011- Immigration

For the first time ever, more people live in cities than in rural areas and people are living a truly urban life. The European Union is the closest experiment to open borders and works because the levels of disparities amongst the EU nations are not as wide as the disparities between Europe and North Africa.

Although exact figures are often thought to be unbelievable, it is estimated that there are approximately 214 million international migrants in the world today- this estimation does not include internal migrations. It should be noted that migrant numbers are not included in this statistic. Instead, migration scholars, such as Khalid Koser prefer to say that 3 percent of the total global population are international migrants, which is believed to be a more accurate statement. One in 35 people is an international migrant, constituting the population of the fourth biggest nation in the world, Indonesia. This may seem like an intimidating thought to think that an entire nation of migrants exists, but Koser asks the question, “Why is the forces of migration is so strong do the other 97 percent of the Earth’s population not migrant?”

Statistics can often be misinterpreted due to the differing definitions of migration terminology. The above stated numbers do not take into consideration the estimated 740 million internal migrants, according to the International Displacement Monitoring Centre.

Despite the current economic crisis, migration has not slowed down significantly. In fact, during the financial crisis unemployment amongst migrants was not as large as to be thought because average citizens were thought to rather accept welfare check than take jobs they thought were beneath them. However, the quality of the life of migrants decreased.  Also during the global financial crisis, flows of irregular migrations decreased, but stocks of migrants increased for fear that after unemployment if they left they would not be able to come back.

Almost 50 percent of migrations now are woman migrants; this used to be due to reasons of marriage, whereas now women are seen as the breadwinners. The feminization of migration is due to many countries’ liberalization where women have a more important role in society, the need for services stereotypically taken on by women such as cooking and cleaning, as well as prostitution and human trafficking.

Migrants are often placed into the categories of legal or illegal, by those who use migration as a political tool, especially for re-election, whereas humanitarian organizations refer to migrants as documented and undocumented or irregular migrants. The term irregular migrants can be used in circumstances where irregular circumstances occur that cause the migrants to leave their documentation behind. Refugees are not included in the estimation of migrants. Contrary to popular thought most migrants come in legally and then become considered ‘illegal’ because they have overstayed their visas.

The term ‘voluntary migration’ has been highly contested. If a family’s home has been destroyed by a natural disaster, they are considered a forced migrant, but if a member of a family leaves the country to find work in another country because their country of origin is lacking openings, are they then considered to be ‘voluntary migrants.’ There is no simple solution to this question, typically governments see these individuals are voluntary migrants, whereas humanitarian organizations are more liberal in interpreting the events that led to migration.

Remittances are the money made by the international migrants that is sent back to the migrants’ families. The top three nations to receive remittances are India, China and Mexico and 50 percent of Tajikistan’s GDP is dependent on remittances. The 2010 flow of remittances is estimated to be about $316 billion. Although some governments may state that the amount of remittances leaving the country in which the money was made, hinders the economy, only 10 percent of remittances are sent back to the migrants’ country of origin and the other 90 percent is sent in the country the migrants are living in to pay for food, rent and other immediate expenses. The danger of remittances stands in that a cultural dependence of this flow of money is established and migration looks more appealing.

International migration law is not recognized as a sect of international law, although it is an emerging field. The UN convention of 1990 does not refer to admission of migrants, but only the legal status of migrants. One of the principles governing migration is that migration and expulsion of ‘aliens’ is a part of the sovereignty of a country. Domestic jurisdiction is an evolving concept and is thought to be better to use than sovereignty in legal terms. States no longer enjoy absolute discretion and must adhere to certain grounds of rejection of aliens, being: a threat to security, not meeting financial requirements, having a contagious disease, a lack of documentation, a prior violation of immigration laws, war criminal status or having a criminal record.

Many fallacies exist about the state of migrants, such as they are unhealthy and bring disease into the country. According to the IOM, this is false, as the strongest and healthiest individuals are those that migrate for work purposes. In fact not only are most migrants healthy, but migrants often underutilize health services and do not take away from public health services, as thought by some. The World Health Organization has reported that Australia has the most access to health care for migrants, whereas Qatar has the least access to health care. Unfortunately the most cited reason for migrants being rejected from the health care system is the government thinks it is too costly.  Switzerland claims that migrants receive full health equality services in hospitals, but migrants are forced to use a different entrance to the hospital, as it is inappropriate for them to enter through the same entrance as a ‘regular’ citizen of the country. The IOM has launched a campaign to educate both migrants and doctors as to what their rights are, as both parties have been fed different stories by governments and are unaware of what their rights and obligations are.

Governments spend billions of dollars a year on making policies concerning migration laws and then approximately three years  later these laws are scrapped and replaced with new ones. Koser believes these funds would be better spent on policy evaluation. When discussing migration, civil society is excluded from official migration dialogues and the legitimacy of representation when one representative represents a thousand organization flounders as a list of three of four concise priorities are difficult to comprise. Private sector is also not involved in migration dialogue, even though they are often a driving force of migration.

Solutions for the models for global governance of migration should exhibit more formal cooperation between states, engage in more robust and regional global dialogues, consider cooperation between regional consultative processes, as well as institutional reform, which would include the creation of a new agency, designating a lead agency from the existing agencies bringing the IOM into the UN system, considering a leadership or WO model. The obstacles that lie within the global governance of migration is that this may impede on a nation’s sovereignty, cause institutional inertia, increase North vs South relations and exhibit a lack of consensus amongst advocates.

The statistic of refugees does not include asylum seekers, internally displaced peoples or stateless persons. In order to be a refugee, the ‘refugee’ must be recognized by the host nation. There are two different ways to determine refugee status. There is the individual procedure and examination and the collective determination of a population. Legally speaking, ‘asylum seeker’ refers to a person who has not been officially recognized as a refugee and the definition of a refugee is based on the well-founded fear of persecution.

The refugee problem was first addressed in May of 1945 in response to the Holocaust and World War II. Within this timeframe there were 40 million refugees and internally displaced people, 13 million expelled Jews, 11.3 million forced labourers and 100 million refugees beyond the parameters of Europe. UNHCR was created during 1949-1950, to replace the IRO that was founded in 1947, as of January 1951. UNHCR’s effectiveness is punted against its non-political mission, as helping those in need is seen by opposing sides as a political act. However, the UNHCR’s objective is not to ask how or why the refugee situation is caused, but rather how to provide basic services for refugees, such as food and shelter.

After the WWII refugees, the next group of refugees came from Hungary in 1956, where the UNHCR helped resettled 200,000 refugees in thirty countries and repatriated 10 percent of the refugees. The next largest UNHCR operations to date occurred in Bangladesh (1970-1971) and then followed by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Afghanistan is the single biggest refugee population in the world, being affected by the invasion of the Soviets, the Taliban rule, the “War on Terror,” as well as other internal conflicts. Interestingly enough, the United States of America is the single biggest donor to the UNHCR. Afghan refugees account for 40 percent of all the refugees in the world, not including Palestinian refugees. Proportionally Somalia has the biggest percentage of refugees and Colombia has the most IDPs, approximately three million. These IDPs receive aid from UNHCR although their legal status is less clear than that of refugees. Another group of people of concern to the UNHCR are settled refugees, who still have access to assistance programs.

The principle of non-refoulement is guaranteed by Article 33 of the Geneva Convention which states that a country cannot force people to go back to nation of persecution if they still feel a sense of persecution.

The right of asylum is not acknowledged as an individual right and falls under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 40: the right to seek and enjoy asylum. This however is not an obligation for a state to provide asylum.

In 1951 the UN convention relating to the status of refugees has contributed to providing durable solutions by the UNHCR to refugee situation including voluntary repatriation to the country of origin, local integration into the country of asylum and resettlement to a third country. However, the UNHCR has been shy about repatriation in the past and usually leaves it up to the IOM to handle repatriation as they are not a U.N. entity.

UNRWA- The United Nations Relief and Work Agency is short for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Special attention should be given to the word ‘Palestine,’ as there were refugees who lived in Palestine but were not of Palestinian descent, including Turks, Armenians and other minority groups. UNRWA is the only U.N. organization set up to face a specific refugee problem for a specific group of people, with more than 30,000 employees. UNRWA has a budget of $700 million, as well as a $250 million emergency fund. The United Nations brought in Gordon Clapp,  the former Director of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the USA to help shape UNRWA. UNRWA is not responsible for finding a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, but rather they are to provide schooling and humanitarian aid to Palestine refugees, the longest standing refugee issue in modern history.

In concern with human security in world politics, the concept of a ‘traditional’ security of ‘national’ security erodes from the traditional concept of safeguarding the population and core values of a nation. The three main reasons why this concept erodes with time is due to a shift from interstate to intrastate wars, a fragmentation of global or common threats and fragile or failed states’ security threats that appear above and below the state level. 

In a survey in South Sudan, citizens were asked if they felt a sense of human security for the months to come. A majority of the surveyed said yes, but their definition of human security was equated with food security. This in mind, an interdisciplinary method is needed for human security. Human security catalysts are often economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political security factors. Environmental security is needed in cases where the well-being or survival of the community is being threated due to human activity that threatens the environment or in cases of environmental change or degradation caused by conflict.

Constructivism in a method for studying social phenomena that focuses on the role of ideas in shaping our identities and gives meaning to the world around us. Constructing security interests involves identifying the threats that weapons pose, the enemy and humanitarian intervention, keeping in mind that threats are a part of an ideological issue. Securitization on the other hand is when threats are socially constructed by powerful actors and accepted by a relevant audience and identification of an existential threat that takes an issue beyond the usual rules of policies and calls for urgent extreme or extra-legal measures to respond, for example: The war on terror or the war on drugs.

While new forms of multilateralism to address human security have been established, such as the Human Security Network, regional responses to human security and the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development have strengths such as their crossregional representation abilities, ministerial level initiatives and the taking on of cutting edge issues such as landmines and child soldiers, there are also weaknesses- they are too dependent on individual leadership, lack a consensus on issues of hierarchy and have bad timing and  weak follow through.

The objective of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development is to raise global awareness of the negative impact of armed violence and support the reduction of armed violence. There are about 700,000 deaths annually due to armed violence with 40-50,000 as a result of direct conflict, homicides at 490,000 and 200,000 as a result of indirect conflict deaths. Excess mortality rates are used in these armed violence statistics. There are at least 875 billion weapons held worldwide with more than 2/3 in civilian hands, ¼ with armed forces, few with police and less than 1% with armed groups. New issues on the human security agenda tackle issues such as landmines, cluster munitions, small arms and light weapons, child soldiers, civilian protection and conflict goods.

What is humanitarian action? According to the OECD/DAC in 2007 is to save lives, alleviate suffering, maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies and should be consistent with principles of human dignity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. Humanitarian action is so relevant because it is easier to send money in contemporary times, it is foreign policy by default, media attention and it is a way to contain refugee issues.

To be a humanitarian is to have a transnational concern to help persons in exceptional distress while humanitarianisms propound loft goals and hide deep contradictions. Intervention on the other hand is the interference, forcible or supported by force, of one independent state in the internal affairs of the other.

There are for categories in categorizing humanitarianism. The first being the Dunantsists, who are strictly impartial, neutral and independent. Then there are the Wilsonians who are broadly tuned with foreign policy of their home country and have a liberal democratic peace agenda. Thirdly there are Faith Based, such as Islamic relief and fourthly there are the Solidarists who seek justice, human rights or development in addition to the objective of humanitarian assistance. There  is also a difference between development aid and humanitarian aid, as development aid is transformative, long term and utilizes local leadership and humanitarian aid has a conservative agenda, is short term and requires external intervention. There are five different action modes, three of which fall under the guise of protection: denunciation, mobilization and persuasion and the other two being support and substitution.

Actors of humanitarian intervention are those who have political interest and won’t refer to situations, such as Libya, as civil war. If it were to be referred to as a civil wall, humanitarian intervention crisis argument then collapses.

What is terrorism? Terrorism are a universal problem, social phenomenon, a strategy, a tactic, technique, crime, resorted to by the weak against the strong, psychological and physical weapons and are elusive in their goals. Terrorism has a long history starting with the Zealots in the year 60 AD with the Jews in Palestine against the Romans, then the Assassins in 1090-1270 in Persia and then the French Revolution in 1792-1794. However, modern terrorism is born in the 1860s by means of  an organic relationship between terrorism and technology, being triggered especially by World War I. And religious terrorism does not start until the1980s.

The initial terrorist mode is the destruction of the most harmful persons in government and the punishment of official lawlessness., but there are difficulties in defining terrorism because it is a disputed and nebulous concept, the definition must stay away from the avowed reasons of the terrorist, yet take them into account, the direct targets of violence aren’t necessarily the main targets and the problem at the crossroads of ideology. Hence, the US Army, FBI and Department of State do not have a standard, agreed upon definition of terrorism, in fact the United Nations have been meeting for 20-30 years concerning devising a standard definition. Despite the inability to define terrorism there are main agreed upon features of terrorist attacks: they are organized, deliberate and systematic, politically motivated, the usage of force, indiscriminately targeting of civilians, meant to communicate a problem, aimed at a symbol, conducted by state or non-state actors, part of a campaign and to achieve strategic direct or indirect results. 

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