Friday, April 20, 2012

Human Rights, not Management –Abu Dhabi Dialogue told

REPRESENTATIVES of 22 nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and trade unions from 11 countries are urging governments involved in the 2nd Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) among Asian Countries of Origin and Destination to discuss and address migration on “established human rights principles and people-centered development.”
Participants of the Civil Society Parallel Event on the 2nd Abu Dhabi Dialogue discuss the Conference Declaration
at a hotel in Manila April 19, 2012. Photo courtesy of Migrant Forum in Asia.

In a document titled “Conference Declaration,” delegates of the “Civil Society Parallel Event on the ADD” said while they “welcome the intention of the governments to discuss and address key issues faced by migrant workers,” these, however, “should not be addressed from a management perspective alone.”

“Bearing in mind the complexity and challenges related to migration, we believe [these] must be based on established human rights principles and people-centered development,” read the unified statement of the groups, which included Philippines-based Kanlungan Centre Foundation Inc. [Editor: The full list of the groups are in the latter part of this post.]

Began in 2008 and hosted by the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the ADD is a consultation among labor ministers of destination and sending countries in Asia and the Middle East.

"The Ministerial Consultation, referred to as the 'Abu Dhabi Dialogue,' brought together for the first time the Colombo Process countries with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, plus Yemen and two additional Asian countries of destination, namely Malaysia and Singapore,” a FAQ on the ADD said.

NGOs and trade unions actively advocating for greater recognition of rights and welfare of migrant workers held a meeting parallel to the high-level dialogue of state players on April 19, 2012.

“The purpose of the [2-day] meeting was to discuss our common positions and engagement with the ADD process,” the NGOs and TUs said.

They also commended “the initiatives taken by the Governments involved in the ADD in continuing the process started in 2008 to provide a platform for discussing migration issues between sending and receiving countries.”

“[But] while we appreciate that the ADD has provided space for us to engage in the dialogue process, we are concerned that our participation was limited to observation status only,” the NGOs and TUs added.

However excluded, they urged the state participants in the ADD to harness human rights principles “in consideration of key areas of discussion as contained in the Framework of Regional Cooperation [FRC].”

They also reminded the ADD players to anchor the FRC on human rights principles, thereby ensuring “participation of all stakeholders, particularly civil society and trade unions” and, ultimately, ensuring “that migration benefits all.”

“For this dialogue to be meaningful, our participation should be substantive, sustained, and ensured.”

As the ADD process unravels in the next two years –the Philippines will chair the ADD during this period, the parallel civil society meeting called on the ADD governments to additionally address the following major issues confronting migrant workers within the regions:

1. the plight of undocumented migrants;

2. the need for enforceable standardized contracts;

3. replacing the Kafala system with a more just recruitment and employment system for migrant workers;

4. exploring the possibility of adopting a reference wage system based on the recognition of skills and experience; and,

5. the inclusion of migrants in social security and insurance protection schemes and programmes.

Aside from Kanlungan, the “Conference Declaration” was adopted by the following organizations [in alphabetical order]:

·         Action Network for Migrant Workers
·         Al Amana Center
·         Anglican Refugee Migrant Network
·         Asia Migrant Domestic Workers' Alliance
·         Caritas Lebanon Migrants Center
·         Center for Indian Migrant Studies
·         Center for Migrant Advocacy
·         Filipino Community Association - Qatar
·         Helpers for Domestic Workers
·         Jordan National Commission for Women
·         Kuwait Trade Union Federation
·         Migrant Forum in Asia
·         Migrants Rights Council
·         National Human Rights Commission – Oman
·         National Trade Union Federation
·         POURAKHI Nepal
·         Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee
·         Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit
·         Solidarity Center
·         WOREC Nepal
·         Youth Action Nepal

Countries represented during the parallel NGO-TU meeting were: Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nepal, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, and Sri Lanka.

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