How to structure effective collective action?

LEGIS part of the LISBON FORUM on Migration and Human Rights: How to structure effective collective action? Best practices and shared knowledge in the Mediterranean and European space

This year’s annual event of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, held in the Ismaili Centre in Lisbon on the 24th and 25th of November, was focusing on Migration and Human Rights.

The Lisbon Forum has been a distinctive platform for decades, bringing together high-level participants from Europe, neighboring regions and other continents to share experience, good practices and expertise, related to promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Gathering representatives of governments, national parliaments, local and regional authorities and the civil society (the quadrilogue), the 2016 Lisbon Forum on Migration and Human Rights was an important and unique opportunity to discuss the state of play in the region regarding the recent migratory movements of people in need of international protection and exchange experience and good practice of a quadrilogue coordinated action.

The root causes of the problem, the importance of constructive dialogue between countries of origin, transit and destination, the need of collective action involving national and local responses (governmental and non-governmental) through a multilevel effective coordination, access to human rights and successful integration was discussed and emphasized during the two days Forum, followed by recommendations for joint efforts of the Quadrilogue to address the issues that refugees and migrants face. Special focus was given to the gender sensitive protection needs of women on a side event Roundable.

Aleksandra Davidovska from LEGIS was one of the panelists on the Roundtable on Women Refugees, Migrants and Asylum seekers in Europe and the Southern Mediterranean. She addressed the gender specific issues that women and girls face in the process of migration and while seeking international protection, their emergency needs and the forms of violence and discrimination faced by women refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migrants. “Collective and dedicated action must be taken to eliminate GBV and ensure access to protection and human rights to all women and girls on the move, regardless to their nationality, religious belief or legal status!" stressed Aleksandra in her intervention to the Forum.

The Roundtable offered recommendations to the Representatives from Governments, Parliaments, Local and Regional Authorities and Civil Society Organisations concerning the specific needs and risks for women migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to 1) promote the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence; 2)implement comprehensive policies and specific measures to ensure that women and girls refugees, migrants and asylum seekers are protected and facilitated access to the services needed, in particular legal support and access to justice in relevant languages; 3)raise awaraness about violence against women refugees, migrants and asylum seekers through data collection and information shared between all relevant non-governmental and governmental agencies, and international organisations; 4)ensure effective implementation of gender policies, legislation and international standards aiming at to respond immediately to the specific needs of women and girls refugees migrants and asylum seekers; 5)Include women in the decision-making processes in order to increase effectiveness and efficiency of implementation of gender policies, which should be reinforced by providing effective access to education, language classes and labour market, in order to enable women to have equal work possibilities and benefits; 6)eliminate discriminative laws such as child marriage and unregistered temporary marriage; 7)provide specialised training and sharing of good practices in order to increase the capacity and expertise of humanitarian actors and the number of gender-sensitive trained personnel.

The General Recommendation of the Forum advise that National Authorities should find political solution to the current migration and refugee crisis. Implement, promote and revise the contents of International and European Law on migration, refugees and asylum seekers with a view to become more effective to protect vulnerable groups such as children and women or even climate refugees. Foresee long term solutions through orientation before departure to host countries or trough integration programs in destination countries and establish legal and safe routes to save human lives and fight human trafficking. Capitalizing the existing mechanisms of coordination and structuring a dialogue among different levels of governance from local and regional to non-state actors, such as the Civil Society Organizations whose relevance must be recognized by the national authorities. The National Authorities should also work on capacity building mechanisms for the relevant institutions that deal with migration and integration, as well as for representative of local communities, journalists, volunteers, in order to be prepare the societies to welcome and support refugees and migrants. Access to justice for human rights violation must be ensured and facilitated, and mechanisms for safe and dignified voluntary return to countries of origin should be established.

The recommendations towards the Parliamentarian Assemblies is to facilitate the process of creating necessary conditions for full integration of refugees and migrants in the host country as well as to develop specific policies that engage the diasporas in the process of social inclusion.

Local and Regional Authorities should facilitate involvement of refugees and migrants and the host society trough social cohesion while addressing challenges of housing, social and health services, education and employment. Special attention has been given to the role of ensuring education responds to the needs of the refugees and migrants, in particular the youngest and the children. Inclusion of diasporas, minorities, migrants and refugees in decision-making processes through permanent consultative dialogue has been stressed as a core role of local authorities, as well as avoiding discrimination in relocation and resettlement processes. Enhance the dialogue between other Local and Regional Authorities in countries of origin, transit and destination is encouraged and recommended.

And finally, Civil Society Organisations should work on reinforcing coordination and dialogue between NGOs working towards the same goal and foster spirit of cooperation and creating synergies and complementarities between different target groups and outreach, expertise and groups of volunteers. Continue to empower people both in terms of diversity and vulnerability by informing them about their rights, providing them with assistance and denouncing in cases of violation. Emphasize the role of the media in raising awareness, helping empowering public opinion and social monitoring. Encourage young people in awareness and advocacy, bringing added value to the grassroots and to the decision making process.

The full text of the recommendations from the Lisbon Forum on Migration and Human Rights can be found on the following link.