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A New Hope to Stem Global Mass Migration

A New Hope to Stem Global Mass Migration
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres attends the United Nations conference on migration on December 10, 2018, in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh. (Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 11 December 2018 12:37 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM), signed in Marrakech on December 10 in the presence of UN Secretary General António Guterres, is a landmark agreement aiming to address how governments manage the flow of people across borders. This holistic document is a step toward human dignity, and a blow to human traffickers — that is, smugglers — who are among the engines of slavery in modern times.

Undocumented migrants are often kidnapped, abused, and raped — or, at minimum, abandoned by the criminal networks they handsomely pay to shepherd them into a better life. The photo of a drowned Syrian Kurdish child washed up on a beach in Greece brought this tragedy into stark relief around the world. Who can accept that children die, or endure the trauma of the ordeal of smuggled migration?

The new pact has the potential to help protect such children. It also seeks to address the more complex economic, political, demographic, cultural, and environmental issues that lie behind the problem. But some European countries, as well as the United States, did not send representatives to Marrakech. These were primarily the countries in which a political leadership simply demands that the flow of migrants stop, without grappling with the causes that impel their movement.

Three continents — Africa, Asia, and South America — account for most of the world’s undocumented migrants. They face sometimes-differing problems that yield the same result. Africa features rapidly growing populations, economic malaise, corrupt governments, and internecine strife. In Asia, countries including Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq have been devastated by unending war. In the likes of Honduras, Mexico, and El Salvador, “parallel states” and “parallel economies” pose their own development challenges. In all of the above, people are willing to risk their lives to reach lands in which they and their children can live safely, and perhaps enjoy some opportunity. Climatologists believe that “climate change” is meanwhile poised to add 200 million more people to the migration routes. No wall, and no repressive policies, can stop them. The only way to treat the roots of this problem is through international policies of development partnership — not charity, but support for local actors striving to improve their own societies.

In his speech to participants in the Marrakech gathering, Moroccan King Mohammed VI says that his own country has adopted a new approach that addresses both the legitimate concerns of states and the plight of migrants. He called for a compromise between border management and human rights. He also called for a socioeconomic development pact for Africa — in his view, the only way to tackle the root causes of the phenomenon.

Unfortunately, neither Europe nor the United States has developed a holistic strategy for Africa — even though economists widely agree that the “black continent” features many of the fastest growing economies in the world. “Co-development” offers not just to help stem the flow of migrants, but also to provide a boon to Western economies. But the latter advantage can only be achieved by stabilizing African countries and promoting good governance. The alternative — unprecedented new waves of mass migration, fractured societies, and burgeoning intolerance — is unconscionable.

Ahmed Charai is a Moroccan Publisher. He sits on the Board of Directors of The Atlantic Council in Washington and International Councillors at The Center for Strategic and International Studies. He's also on the Board of Trustees of the The Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia and member of The National Interest’s Advisory Council. Mr. Charai is a Mid-East policy advisor in Washington whose articles have appeared in the major U.S. media. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The Global Compact for Migration (GCM), signed in Marrakech on December 10 in the presence of UN Secretary General António Guterres, is a landmark agreement aiming to address how governments manage the flow of people across borders.
migration, global
Tuesday, 11 December 2018 12:37 PM
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