ILPS Statement on the Global Forum
on Migration and Development
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle
July 4, 2007
On July 9, 10 and 11, the first Global Forum on Migration and Development will
be held in Brussels, Belgium. The first day will be the Civil Society Dialogue where
the agenda of the next two days' meeting will be discussed. Recommendations
of the CSD shall then be presented to governments attending the GFMD.
The GFMD is described as "an informal multilateral and state-led multi-stakeholder
process … to identify practical and feasible ways to strengthen the mutually
beneficial relationship between migration and development."
The GFMD is set to discuss three major topics; 1. the management of migration
in sending and receiving countries to maximize "opportunities" and minimize "risks";
2. remittances as concrete aspect of migration that can be used for development,
and; 3. the establishment of policies and partnerships between countries to achieve
the goal of making migration work for development.
The agenda of the GFMD exposes the undeniable fact that "neoliberal" globalization
has failed miserably on its promise to usher development and betrays the intent of
the current drive of monopoly capitalist countries and their institutions to exploit
the migration phenomenon, the lucrative labor export programs and migrant
remittances for the purpose of salvaging or propping up the collapsing economies,
especially of semicolonies and dependent countries.
Migration as a "tool for development" signifies greater commodification of migrants
and management of migration to augment state revenues and help cover deficits
in foreign payments. The growing migrant workers' movement understands this
and is prepared to resist the renewed offensive against their rights and welfare.
"Migration and Development" in the Context of "Neoliberal" Globalization
The aim of utilizing migration for "development" implies the perpetuation of
conditions for cheap labor and exposes the fact that "neoliberal" globalization
currently has not brought us closer to the eradication of global poverty and
unemployment. Global powers and their crisis-ridden client states are desperate
for additional sources of income and cheap labor to fuel their hungry profit
machines and stop slumping growth rates.
The GFMD is being convened amidst an unprecedented world crisis. "Neoliberal"
globalization, touted to salvage the global capitalist economy, has instead aggravated
this crisis which has been suffered for decades by underdeveloped and developing
countries and, now even by highly-developed countries headed by the United
States at an intensifying rate.
Unemployment, underemployment, landlessness and deprivation of basic services
are prevalent and chronic problems of semicolonies. Their natural resources are
plundered and their economies are held hostage by their imperialist masters. While
the great majority either sink deeper into the quagmire of poverty due to
accumulated problems and the current impact of the economic crisis, a very few
of the imperialist lackeys reap the rewards of the "neoliberal" globalization policies.
This global crisis has pushed the world's capitalist powers, mainly the US, to launch
brazen wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq while also continuing to
make threats of armed aggression against states that refuse to kowtow to US'
demands. Under the guise of fighting terror, the US continues to use its military
might to push forward its interests and crush any form of resistance, especially
from the anti-imperialist movements.
Ominously absent from the announced topics for discussion of the GFMD is how
neoliberal globalization impacts on the continuous increase of migrant workers, on
their situation in host countries, on the situation of their families in their homeland,
and on the general migration phenomena.
In the GFMD background paper, the effects of globalization are described superficially
as making workers multi-locational internationally, "pulled by higher income and life
opportunities elsewhere, and pushed by lack of opportunity at home."
The GFMD is in a state of denial when it claims that the outcomes should ensure
that development is not instrumentalized for migration management purposes, and
avoid that migration is seen as an alternative to development because this is supposed
to be the ultimate purpose. Nothing can be more perverse than to assert that
development is the purpose and outcome of migration. Gross underdevelopment
of the sending countries is the cause of migration of cheap labor, skilled labor,
professionals and technicians. Further on, such migration perpetuates and aggravates
the underdevelopment of the sending countries.
More importantly, GFMD also refuses to acknowledge that the worsening crisis of
world capitalism, especially in the imperialist countries, is actually constricting the
number and type of jobs available abroad for the millions of people driven by the
deteriorating economic and social conditions in semicolonies. Competition even for
3D (dirty, difficult and dangerous) jobs among underdeveloped countries is intensifying.
While the prospects for employment overseas shrink because of the contraction of
capitalist economies and the heightening anti-terror hysteria and racism, the economies
of labor-exporting countries are threatened with further stagnation and collapse.
The GFMD and the Commodification of Migrants
Migration, in recent years, is fast becoming an international concern. With almost 205
million migrants around the world, millions more undocumented migrants, and nearly
20 million refugees (excluding internal refugees), the migration phenomenon has
steadily become a focus area for discussion.
Remittances of migrant workers around the world are also increasing. The estimated
US$226 trillion worth of remittances, mainly to underdeveloped and developing countries,
are far more than the combined "development assistance" grudgingly spooned out by
highly-developed countries. Even the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank
have started to claim and account migration as part of its policy recommendations.
The global interest in migration is most concretely seen in efforts to put this matter
into the agenda of the World Trade Organization through the Mode 4 of the General
Agreements on Trade in Services or GATS. The imperialists are determined to make
migrants more vulnerable and their rights further eroded under the concept of "movement
of natural persons". This so-called labor flexibility of GATS Mode 4 will ensure shortening
of contracts, lowering of wages, continuing attacks on trade union rights, prevention
of immigration, and ensuring the flow of cheap temporary migrant workers for the
benefit of multinational corporations.
Majority of the foreign workers are found in industries as factory workers, in agriculture,
and in the service sector, especially in low-paying jobs in households, restaurants, hotels
and entertainment establishments. They are subjected to the most intense anti-labor
and anti-women conditions. National labor standards usually do not cover migrant
workers, especially temporary migrants. Undocumented workers are criminalized.
Abuse is rampant especially of women working in households and the entertainment
Immigrants in capitalist countries are also one of the first to carry the brunt of economic
deterioration. They are commonly displaced from their jobs while policies for social
services are made restrictive and inaccessible to majority of them. Racism, discrimination
and xenophobia have also become widespread.
Migrant workers are the first to be subjected to harsh labor and immigration policies
including pay cuts, imposition of taxes, reduction of benefits and the massive arrest
and deportation of the undocumented. Worse, during crisis they are scapegoated
as states fan up anti-migrant sentiments among the local workforce to shift the blame
for the economic hardships from the implementation of "neoliberal" globalization and
the crisis of the global capitalist economy. The "war on terror" does not spare migrant
workers as anti-terror hysteria makes them, particularly the undocumented , targets
of racial discrimination, racist attacks and other grave human rights violations.
Meanwhile in labor-exporting countries, migrant workers are but commodities.And in
some countries, they are the main export product, used to prop up their sagging
economies. Remittances have become such anintegral part of the country's survival
that even a few days' disruption in the flow of remittances can plunge theeconomy
to even more severe socio-economic and political crisis.
The GFMD presents the phenomenon of migration in a cavalier and insensitive way
even as it recognizes the role that migration plays in income generation of sending
countries as well as its role in alleviating the chronic problem of unemployment.
With regard to revenue generation, migration is uncritically praised and has become
a matter of pride for the GFDM to depict the remittances of migrant workers as a
means of "development" rather than as a means of consumption (at the level of
families and the big comprador state) and as an alleviation to the current accounts
deficits and foreign indebtedness.
The embellishments that the GFDM wishes to put on migration - be it as a "tool
for development" or "partnership and cooperation" - cannot obscure the fact that
high migration rate is an indicator of serious economic problems of underdevelopment
on the part of sending countries. Attempts to alleviate these problems without
addressing their root causes will serve only the exploiters in misleading the people,
diverting the focus from addressing essential concerns, conjuring the illusion of
development and perpetuating the conditions of underdevelopmet..
The GFDM, in its refusal to take into account the implications and consequences
of "neoliberal" globalization as well as the root causes of forced migration in discussing
migration and development, is merely serving the agenda of imperialist states and
the ruling classes and governments of sending countries.
GFMD and the Struggle of Migrant Workers
The GFMD cannot be expected to become relevant and helpful to the most important
of its supposed stakeholders - the migrant workers themselves - as it fails to address
the essential issues of the migration phenomenon, including the immediate and
long-term issues involving themigrant workers.
Civic organizations participating in the GFMD process must call the participating states
to this task and not to fall into the policy framework on migration and development
that the GFMD wishes to advance. They must recognize the centrality of the rights
and welfare of migrant workers in the global migration phenomenon and must fight
for the rights and interests of the migrant workers. It is high time to condemn and
repudiate the snare of monopoly-capitalist interests disguised cynically as mere
"management" of migration.
The International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS)has the continuing and pressing
task of building the anti-imperialist front among the peoples of the world in order to
resist and defeat the onslaught of "neoliberal" globalization, imperialist plunder and
imperialist wars of aggression.
Migrant organizations participating in the ILPS and, in particular, those interested
in Concern No. 16 on Migrants, Refugees, Homeless and Other Displaced Peoples
have already undertaken substantial discussions and made resolutions on the root
causes of migration, the impact of "neoliberal" globalization on migrant workers and
the courses of actions for defending the rights and welfare of the migrant workers.
The study commission on this concern, created and developed in the first and second
ILPS international assemblies, has also jumpstarted the process of building the
International Migrants' Alliance (IMA). The IMA is envisioned to gather grassroots
organizations of migrant workers around the world, to engage and conjoin the
migrant workers, immigrants, and refugees in struggle; to push for the full implementation
of international conventions on the rights of migrant workers and their families; to
protect the rights of undocumented migrants and women migrant workers; to end
human and sex-trafficking; and to participate in the struggle against imperialist wars
of aggression, repression and fascism.
Set to be convened and established early next year, the International Migrants'
Alliance will constitute a significant and outstanding rallying force in the struggle
of migrant workers. It is expected to be at the forefront in taking up the urgent
concerns of the migrant workers and in pursuing the struggles of the migrant
workers in connection with those of all other oppressed peoples and sectors.
There is a need to persevere in arousing, organizing, mobilizing and empowering
the migrant workers of various nationalities and give priority to countries where
there are large concentrations of migrant workers and immigrants. The international
movement of migrant workers shall have as building blocks the migrant workers'
organizations in various countries. It will contribute significantly to the all-round
development of the international people's movement against "neoliberal"globalization.
The International League of Peoples' Struggle urges the migrant workers to do their
best and utmost in the struggle of all peoples against imperialism and all reaction in
order to build a new and better world of greater freedom, democracy, social justice,
development, international solidarity and world peace.###