AFRICAN COMMON POSITION ON MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT INTRODUCTORY NOTE The Executive Council Decision (EX.CL/Dec.264 on Migration and Development (VIII)) adopted during the January 2006 Khartoum Summit mandated the Commission of the African Union to convene an Experts’ Meeting on Migration and Development in Algiers, Algeria at the kind invitation of the Government of Algeria. The meeting took place as scheduled from April 3-5, 2006. Over 42 countries attended the meeting and the discussions were lively and exciting. A number of Regional, International and Non-Governmental Organizations and Institutions were also represented. These included: ILO, IOM, ALO, UN/AIDS, UNDP, UNICEF, ICMPO, ARLAC, OATUU, Vatican, ICRC, Pan-African Youth Organization, and FAO. In addition the following organizations working in the field of migration in the Diaspora attended the meeting: African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (AFWE), The Foundation for Democracy in Africa, and African Foundation for Development (AFFORD). The Draft African Common Position on Migration and Development also contains a set of recommendation at National, Continental and International level which are aimed at addressing migration and development issues. The delegates also adopted a Report of the Experts Meeting, which among other things, mandated the African Troika to address the issue of migration and development with the European Troika during their meeting in Vienna, Austria on May 8, 2006. The African Common Position on Migration and Development has since been endorsed by the Executive Council through the Executive Council Decision (EX.CL/Dec.305 (IX)) adopted at the Banjul Summit in July 2006.
Africa is experiencing an important development in migratory flows. These movements occur essentially within the Continent. They are also occurring towards Europe, North America and some Middle East countries and could be voluntary (as a result of pull factors in destination countries) or involuntary/forced (due to push factors in countries of origin). These movements could be legal or undocumented and encompass all social categories, including refugees, internally displaced persons, nomads migrating in search of pasturelands, young and women setting off from the country side in search of job opportunities in the city, employment seekers, and, increasingly, qualified persons, women and children under the age of 18.
Migratory flows are occurring, however, in an African context still marked by the inadequacy of institutional capacities of some African countries to address the problems individually and collectively.
Of the 150 million migrants in the world, more than 50 million are estimated to be Africans. Given that the number of migrants is rising and that this trend is likely to persist in the foreseeable future, the management of migration has necessarily become one of the critical challenges for States in the new millennium.
In recent years, migration has been making its way steadily towards the top of the continental and international affairs agenda and now calls for the urgent attention of governments, whatever the nature of their involvement or interest in the management of migratory processes. There is a need for a comprehensive and balanced approach to migration taking into account migration realities and trends as well as linkages between migration and other key economic, social, political and humanitarian issues.
Another contemporary aspect of migration in Africa is the growing number of women who have also started to migrate in search for greater employment/economic opportunities.
The root causes of migration are numerous and complex. The push-pull framework gives insight into the different forces at work to explain migration. In Africa, poor socio-economic conditions, such as low wages, high levels of unemployment, rural underdevelopment, poverty and lack of opportunity fuel out-migration. These factors are usually brought about by a mismatch between the rapid population growth and the available resources, low level of requisite technology to exploit the available natural resources and capacity to create employment and jobs at the countries of origin.
In addition, various political and social factors induce migration. Among these, are poor governance, nepotism and corruption, human rights violations, political instability, environmental factors, conflict and civil strife, the real or perceived opportunity for a better life, high income, greater security, better quality of education and health care at
the destinations influence decision to migrate. Lower costs of migration, improved communication, greater information availability and the need to join relatives, families and friends are among the factors, which amplify push-pull factors. Whereas well-managed migration may have a substantial positive impact for the development of countries of origin and yield significant benefits to destinations States, mismanaged or unmanaged migration can have serious negative consequences for States’ and migrants’ welfare, including potential destabilizing effect on national and regional security. In response to the challenge posed by migration, the Eighth Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union in KHARTOUM from 16 to 21 January 2006 adopted the decision EX.CL/DEC.264 (VIII). In this context, Council decided to convene an experts meeting on migration and development in Algiers, Algeria at the invitation of the Algerian government in order to prepare a common African position. 2. PREAMBLE
MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR MIGRATION FROM MEMBER STATES OF THE AFRICAN UNION
RECOGNISING the uneven impact of globalization on international migration and Africa’s role in migration management and development; ACKNOWLEDGING that migratory movements occur essentially within the continent and also towards developed countries and that every country has become either a country of origin, transit or destination or a combination of the three; AWARE that conflicts, poverty, poor governance, under development, lack of opportunities, environmental factors are some of the underlying causes of migration and that to effectively manage migration, the root causes of migration should be addressed; RECOGNISING that illegal or irregular migration is currently taking serious dimensions and alarming proportions that threatens peace, stability and security and must be adequately addressed through a comprehensive approach on to effective border management and within the context of strict observance of human rights and human dignity; CONCERNED that the emphasis on addressing illegal or irregular migration has been only on security considerations rather than on broader development frameworks and on mainstreaming migration in development strategies; RECOGNISING that the selective migration approaches adopted by developed countries including developed countries which targets African expertise constitutes an additional threat to African economies; CONCERNED about the loss of heavy investments made by African Governments in training and human resource development in priority sectors and the negative impact of the brain drain on these sectors;