For the majority of the 244 million international migrants worldwide in 2015, including some 21 million refugees, migration was a necessity not an option. The circumstances underlying their movement generate additional challenges to their inclusion in every aspect of life in receiving societies. Developing appropriate policy frameworks at the local, national and global levels requires a better understanding of the implications of human mobility for its protagonists. Listening to their stories not only reveals the human face of this global phenomenon but also contributes, through a ‘cathartic’ experience, to delegitimize established prejudices and stereotypes and create the enabling conditions for empathy and mutual respect. Equally important is the understanding of the root causes of migration and displacement, which can be obtained through a careful analysis of historical contexts and processes.
This knowledge, combined with the experiences and lessons learned of the broad array of actors working on migration – from local governments and governmental entities to academia, civil society organizations and the world of arts – has the potential of informing global agendas towards the full realization of human rights by all migrants and refugees, irrespective of their gender, identity or status. The conference that UNESCO and UNU jointly organize (Thursday, 15 June 2017, 3 to 6 pm, Room XII) coincides with the development of the global compact on migration mandated by the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants (UN General Assembly, September 2016). This process will likely result in 2018 into a solid and robust framework, containing specific and actionable commitments on behalf of UN Member States that enjoy also the support of all concerned stakeholders. A key role in this respect is played by the Global Migration Group (GMG), a 22-member interagency platform promoting greater cooperation and coherence, where UNU, the 2017 GMG Chair, and UNESCO collaborate closely.
Ongoing work by UNU and by UNESCO, notably the Welcoming Cities for Refugees and Migrants initiative that was launched in 2016 with the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation and the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR, will serve as reference points and provide illustrative examples.
The conference was opened by UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the Rector of UNU, Dr David Malone. It will also feature representatives of governments, city authorities, the academia, civil society organizations, artists and philanthropists well-known for their commitment to human rights and respect for diversity.
UNU-GCM Director Parvati Nair moderated a panel at a conference jointly organised by UNESCO and UNU on ‘The Human Face of Migration: Historical Perspectives, Testimonies and Policy Considerations’, which took place at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on June 15 2017. The conference, which was organized by Mr. Daniel Rondeau, was opened by the Director General of UNESCO and the UNU Rector. Participants included representatives of governments, city authorities, academia, civil society organisations, artists and philanthropists well-known for their commitment to human rights and respect for diversity. The conference provided a platform for speakers to reveal the human face of global migration, with the aim to inform the development of appropriate policy frameworks at the local, national and global levels on the basis of empathy and mutual respect.