Maanden geleden al kritisch over “Migratiepact”

Door Pol Van Den Driessche op 20 november 2018

De Interparlementaire Unie (IPU) en de Verenigde Naties (VN) organiseerden op 22 en 23 februari van dit jaar een hoorzitting over het migratieprobleem in het VN-hoofdkwartier in New York. Als voorzitter van de Belgische Groep van de IPU nam ik deel aan de discussies met parlementsleden uit tientallen landen. Het ging hier dus om een “Hearing”, waar geen beslissingen (konden) worden genomen.

Ook senator Alain Destexhe (MR) en kamerlid Sabine Lahaye-Batteu namen het woord tijdens de geanimeerde gedachtewisselingen.

In mijn uiteenzetting – die reglementair maar enkele minuten mocht duren – maakte ik alvast een reeks opmerkingen over enkele principes die men in het voorstel van de “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” – wou gaan opnemen.

 

Krachtlijnen van mijn tussenkomst tijdens Hoorzitting in New York

“Het is van het grootste belang om een onderscheid te maken tussen vluchtelingen en migranten. De ‘Verklaring van New York’ (*) is hierover heel vaag. Nochtans is dit onderscheid dé sleutel voor een humane maar efficiënte migratiepolitiek. Vluchtelingen hebben de reële angst om vervolgd te worden. Dit maakt hen juist vluchteling. Het is voor deze mensen dat legale migratie mogelijk en gemakkelijk moet gemaakt worden. (…)

Uiteraard vind ik ook dat de mensenrechten van elke mens moeten beschermd worden. Maar in  de ‘Verklaring van New York’ worden mensenrechten en burgerrechten door elkaar gebruikt. Nochtans moet hierin een onderscheid gemaakt worden om de welvaartstaat te beschermen. Nieuwkomers hebben rechten. Maar ze hebben ook plichten. In hoofdstuk IV lees ik over de ‘engagementen tegenover vluchtelingen’. Ik lees echter niets over de ‘engagementen van de vluchtelingen’. (…) Ik wil hierover zeer duidelijk zijn: wij verwachten van hen dat zij onze waarden en normen aanvaarden.

Ik ben ontgoocheld over de beperkte aandacht die de ‘Verklaring van New York’ wijdt aan de terugkeerpolitiek. Dit is nochtans de belangrijkste bouwsteen voor een efficiënte en humane migratiepolitiek. (…)

Er is inderdaad de verantwoordelijkheid van de ‘Declaration States’, van de ontvangende landen. Maar er is ook de verantwoordelijkheid van de vluchteling, van de asielzoeker. Als de asielaanvraag negatief geëvalueerd wordt door het land waar die aangevraagd wordt, dan is de enige mogelijkheid terugkeren. Als ontvangend land kunnen en willen wij geen illegaal verblijf toestaan. (…)

Als we niet actief inzetten op een terugkeerpolitiek, dan zal migratie een destabiliserende factor zijn en zal ze geen toegevoegde waarde hebben. (…)”

(*) De “New York Declaration for Refugees & Migrants” vormde in 2016 de aanzet tot en bevatte de belangrijkste principes van het voorliggende “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly ande Regular Migration”.

 

 

 Integrale tekst van mijn Engelstalige tussenkomst Hoorzitting in New York

 

* Working together on international migration is a must – yet the continued pushback against multilateralism reminds us that preaching this obvious truth to the skeptics is harder than ever before.

* Migration can contribute to hosting societies. And thus, be a success. But then a better equilibrium between the inflow of refugees and knowledge migration should be fostered. We should in other words evolve towards active immigration policies. And not undergo, in a passive way, immigration flows.

* I agree that we should implement a comprehensive refugee response, as proposed. Allow me to make some remarks.

* Legal migration through humanitarian visa or relocation for instance should be the only and sole migration channel to save heavens, for those who are in urgent need of protection. We must therefore make more efforts to stop and prevent irregular and illegal immigration and border crossings. Our main focus is combat trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants and new forms of slavery.

* I support the role of UNHCR and IOM in fostering legal migration for the most vulnerable refugees. But, since hosting countries are accountable to both newcomers and the indigenous population, limits should be able to set. Otherwise, immigration of refugees becomes a destabilizing factor.

* It’s important to make a clear distinction between refugees and migrants. The “New York Declaration” is vague on this regard. However, it is key to a human but effective immigration policy. Refugees have the well-founded fear of persecution that makes them a refugee and thus, it is for them that special legal migration routes are developed.

* I recall upon the fact that hosting refugees is not the sole and only responsibility of Western European destination countries. False arguments should be eliminated. There were 2 million refugees in the European Union in 2015. A small proportion on the total of 500 million inhabitants. False: they were sheltered and integrated finally in more or less 3 destination countries.

* I’d like to add to this discussion that I agree that the human rights of all humans should be protected. But in this discussion the New York Declaration is mixing up human rights with civil rights. This is an important distinction with regard to preservation of the welfare state. Newcomers have rights. But they also have responsibilities. In Chapter IV I read the ‘commitments for refugees’. I’m missing a chapter on ‘commitments of refugees’. Let me make this very clear: in our society we ask them to at least accept our values and norms.

* In this regard I affirm the importance of a robust international refugee framework. But I urge the Forum to take into account the Resolution of the Parliamentary Assemblée of the Council of Europe in January 2017, whereas in Resolution 2147 the Parliament insists member States to engage in a meaningful dialogue involving the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other international stakeholders on the interpretation of legal provisions of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, including the criteria for qualifying for status, as well as on the issue of definition of a third safe country. In a short way to rethink the Geneva Conventions, their Additional Protocols and its applications in current times.

* I’m disappointed with the limited attention in the “New York Declaration” with regard to returning policies. This is however the concluding policy keystone to an effective, though humane migration policy. Let me elaborate on this topic. There is indeed the responsibility as the Declaration states, of the host countries. But there is also a clear responsibility of the applicant, refugee. If the outcome of an application is negative, returning is the only possible action. As a host country we cannot and will not accept illegal residence. If we don’t take action with regard to returning policy, immigration will be a destabilizing factor and have no value added at large.

            

* I underwrite the commitment to deliver humanitarian and development assistance to those countries most affected.

* We must be honest. As hosting societies of refugees, we cannot shelter all displaced people worldwide. There are million refugees worldwide. This number will not decrease, but instead increase. The context figures are not positive. The migration stress on European borders will increase, but more than ever I call on the forum to devote more attention to the push factors of migration. Such as conflict and violence or weak governance, even climate change.

* In this regard, I reaffirm the importance of the 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development as a framework for development. Innovative multilateral financial solutions are to be developed

* I urge the Forum to cooperate with other institutions in this regard. I refer to multilateral development banks and the European Union for instance, to share expertise and value added in crisis situations and capturing current and future trends. And therefore combining existing innovative financing mechanisms.

* I would like to stress that we should devote more focus on developing the enabling environment for private investment. Private investment requires a stabile investment climate, in which not only the United Nations but moreover, the country and government itself, play a critical role. In this perspective I would like to urge the importance on supporting domestic resource mobilization and fighting illicit financial flows.

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