Global Forum on Migration and Development is Underway in Quito

The 12th edition of the forum is being held in the capital of Ecuador until 23 January. PSI delegation will stand for a Rights-Based Approach which combines the protection of migrants' human rights and the defence of quality public services. Check out our daily updates below.

Day 3
Climate-related migration and displacement

By Sandra Massiah, PSI Caribbean Sub-regional Secretary

Worldwide, sudden- and slow-onset disasters are increasingly causing displacement within and across borders. This means that the people who are affected face the risk of displacement as well as need to have options to move from their homes in order to have sustainable livelihoods. The climate crisis is adversely affecting everyone. In many cases, it is pushing people, especially the poor, to leave their homes. PSI defends the human rights-based approach to climate migration. This approach rests on two key pillars:

· Protecting human rights, and

· Defending quality public services

Climate-related migration and displacement was one of the themes for the Civil Society Day during the GFMD and PSI participated in the group discussions. As participants who were mainly from the South shared experiences and challenges, it was increasingly obvious that communities, local government structures and the people who deliver public services played a critical role. “It is important to respect and accept the value of local knowledge from community organisations, indigenous people and workers in the communities.”

Group members represented NGOs and community organisations and through their experiences, we were able to identify many cases of people having to migrate internally and across borders as a result of the impact of floods, hurricanes, drought and other natural disasters. Those who faced racism, xenophobia and various forms of discrimination prior to the events that forced them to migrate, continued to experience discrimination, and in a number of cases the levels of discrimination increased. The lack of protection, democracy and respect for human rights adds other layers to the lack of dignity in their lives.

Sandra Messiah PSI Caribbean Sub-regional Secretary

In any discussion of climate-induced migration and displacement we cannot lose sight of the need to protect our environment, to save the planet. We cannot ignore the need for system change strongly grounded on the human rights based normative framework

PSI asserts that governments will not be able to achieve the commitments that they made under the Paris Agreement without a well-resourced public service at local and national levels. And in the case of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like those in the Caribbean, regional cooperation among states is also critical. Climate migrants are real people, and their numbers are increasing. In some cases they are refused entry when they cross borders.

PSI emphasized its pro-public stance and presented its arguments for government-led climate action. Our demands include a just transition to a cleaner, fairer system that provides opportunities for workers and their families. PSI advocates that governments must take the lead by demanding and promoting clean energy solutions. At the same time, we must create a new, green economy. We must grasp the many opportunities available to encourage the active and strategic participation of young people through climate jobs that create a new, green economy.

“In any discussion of climate-induced migration and displacement we cannot lose sight of the need to protect our environment, to save the planet. We cannot ignore the need for system change strongly grounded on the human rights based normative framework.”

Day 3
Saving Lives is not Crime

By Maria Östberg-Svanelind, International Secretary, Akademikerförbundet SSR, Sweden

We are living in an era where more people than ever are migrating and when we know there will be more people on the move. We are living in a time when the gap between rich and poor continues to grow, political instability within and among countries persists and the effects of climate change are increasingly and dramatically felt. People leave their homes, their villages, their families most often because they have to. They travel on dangerous and unsafe roads, risking their lives, on their way to a better life. And for those who succeed to migrate and arrive in the country of destination, life is full of challenges. Safe pathways and opening regular channels to migration is just one small part of the solution.

It is a disgraceful kind of underdevelopment that we see happening around the world. A development where people are forced to be on the move - fleeing conflicts, violence, human rights violations, poverty, or being displaced by disasters such as floods and droughts with no access to dignified resettlement nor social protection. At the same time, rescue workers, those who save lives, in the sea, in deserts, on dangerous roads, are criminalised. It is a shame. Where is our humanity in this?

“Criminalisation” was the theme at one of today’s workshops at the Civil Society Days of the 12th Global Forum on Migration and Development. And of course, we all agreed that the theme should be “End Criminalisation.”

As the PSI Delegation to the GFMD, we prepared and we got big support for our main demands:

Maria Östberg-Svanelind

Stop the criminalisation of migrants and those assisting them, particularly frontline workers who save lives and who provide public services to all migrants and asylum seekers without discrimination.

We lifted EU CARE as an important example of a trade union initiative supported by the European Federation of Public Services Unions (EPSU). EU CARE is the European network of workers involved in the reception of migrants and refugees, bound by the common value of delivering a public service of hospitality that respects the dignity and rights of migrants and asylum-seekers. It aroused great interest from other civil society participants and generated many questions.

As PSI, we also demand that: There should be a ‘’firewall’’ between access to services and immigration control, as provided for in the Global Compact on Migration (Objective 8 – Saving Lives; and Objective 15 – Access to Services for Migrants).

From all the civil society groups represented there was a clear interest in joining efforts in campaigning for the ‘’firewall” to ensure safety and non-discrimination in access of migrants to public services.

Access to Quality Public Services for all, regardless of status, was another important demand we all agreed on and some examples on that were discussed, like access to health care for undocumented migrants and access to schools for the children of undocumented migrants. I told about the successful campaign carried out by almost 60 civil society organisations including many trade unions in Sweden in 2013. The campaign was about access to healthcare for undocumented migrants and the law was passed in 2013 and implemented a couple of years later.

Maybe the most difficult question to agree on the solution to was the one on changing the narrative. The narrative based on racism, xenophobia, fascism, led by nationalistic groups and about creating a situation where people feel insecure and frightened, and where migrants are being blamed for it. But as it often is in a working-group in a global conference, it´s the discussion, the meeting of arguments, the listening to each other that is the most important outcome.


By Jose Arturo Ruiz Trhamppe, PSI Project Coordinator, Guatemala

In the 12th World Forum on Migration and Development (FMMD), held in Quito, Ecuador. The debate on migration and development is being discussed. As is well known, migration occurs from several sides, migration from rural areas to urban areas, from a country of origin to a country of destination, from south to south and from south to north.

The ISP on the issue of migration has firmly held that decent work, access to quality public services and social protection and fair and ethical recruitment should be considered; What should ensure global governance, it is emphasized that states have a responsibility to regulate this issue and guarantee human rights and labor standards, which will be achieved only if we have strong unions that can influence public policies, that find strategic alliances with other actors at national and international level.

We emphasize that migration is not only a social issue, but that it is also a cultural one, but above all it is a business. This is because migrants are considered as merchandise, since different tactics are applied in order to wake up workers in a region or a specific geographical area, even causing wars, to force entire families to leave their property, extortion, insecurity in every way, and not offer decent jobs, so many workers are forced into the practice to leave their countries and seek better conditions for themselves and their families.

Jose Arturo Ruiz Trhamppe, PSI Project Coordinator, Guatemala

From what was mentioned, it can already be seen that there are economic impacts, but also, we must not forget what migrants contribute in the countries of destination, such as to the countries of origin with the sending of remittances to their families. The migration demonstrates that there are failures in the employment generation system, that there is no stability, there is insecurity, among other factors.

But because it is said to be an economic impact business, for example, remittances sent by migrants to their countries of origin contribute to the national economy, to stimulate domestic consumption, stimulate national production, they are a source of foreign exchange, they contribute to balance in the balance of payments and contain exchange rate fluctuations.

The contribution of migrants in sending remittances to their countries

In 2019

$455 Million


$533 Million

Costa Rica

$10,525 Million


Only in the region of Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic, according to ECLAC data 2018-2019, Mexico was the main recipient of remittances, followed by Guatemala. The contribution of migrants in sending remittances to their countries is expressed as the percentage of GDP, as follows: El Salvador 22%, Honduras 20.3%, Guatemala 11.8% and Nicaragua 10.3%, Costa Rica and Panama were those who received the least remittances in the same period received US $ 533 Million and US $ 455 Million, respectively.

Guatemala received more than US $ 10,525 million in remittances in 2019, while the country has exported US $ 11,000 million. With this data, what we intend to demonstrate is that migration is a business, and the business is measured in economic terms, but this is what can be demonstrated in a studied way, now some questions that we must ask are: How much money will generate the Trafficking of people in migration? How much will companies that hire migrants in an unregulated way save in wages and social protection? Will there be interest in states to find an adequate and transparent solution to migration?

Day 2
Underscoring decent work, social protection and fair and ethical recruitment for all migrant workers

By Jillian Roque, PSLINK Philippines

According to the UN, the number of international migrants has reached 272 million in 2019. Around 90% of international migrants are economic migrants as more and more people move to other countries in search of decent work. Labour migration is one of the key themes being discussed at the 12th Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Quito, Ecuador.

In a workshop on “Enhancing partnerships for fair and ethical recruitment and upholding the rights of migrant workers” jointly organised by the International Labour Organization and the International Organization for Migration, PSI strongly underscored decent work, social protection and fair and ethical recruitment for all migrant workers.

Recruitment is an important stage in the labour migration process. However international recruitment has been hijacked by business for profit. Deceptive recruitment practices such as the charging of excessive recruitment fees undermine decent work and the attainment of safe, regular and orderly migration.

Jillian Roque, PSLINK Philippine

“Many private recruiters exploit the desperation of workers who are forced to migrate out of poverty and the lack of decent job opportunities in their home countries,” said Jillian Roque, PSI delegate from the Philippine affiliate Public Services Labour Independent Confederation (PSLINK).

“This is why PSI’s No Recruitment Fees Campaign is relevant now more than ever. Our campaign is not only in line with the ILO Fair Recruitment Principles and Guidelines, it also reduces the financial burden of migrant workers and contributes to the attainment of the Global Compact on Migration and the Sustainable Development Goals," she added.

Ensuring fair and ethical recruitment requires cooperation among the various stakeholders within and between countries of origin and destination. A number of national, bilateral and multilateral initiatives have been carried out in order to promote fair and ethical recruitment.

The Bilateral Labor Agreement between the Philippines and Germany on the deployment of Filipino nurses sets itself apart as a model bilateral agreement that respects migrant workers’ rights.

Also representing the PSI delegation, Herbert Beck (Verdi, Germany) shared with the workshop delegates the salient features of the Philippines-Germany BLA.

“This bilateral agreement represents how international labour standards can be incorporated in a bilateral agreement,” said Beck.” It guarantees equal treatment, no recruitment fees charged to workers, integration of Filipino nurses in the German health facilities and host communities, and the involvement of trade unions from both the Philippines (PSLINK) and Germany (Verdi) in the Joint Committee overseeing the implementation of the BLA,’’ he added.

Beck then encouraged government representatives to adopt this model in forging bilateral labour agreements.

Day 1
Defending the Rights-Based Approach to Migration and Development

By Genevieve Gencianos, PSI

PSI’s Trade Union Activists kick-off this week’s 12th Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Quito with a Migration Strategy and Preparatory Workshop hosted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) and a Public Forum at the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, jointly organized by PSI and FES along with civil society partners, the Human Rights Documentation Centre "Segundo Montes Mozo S.J." (CSMM), the Andean Human Rights Program-PADH of the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar.

The morning’s Strategy and Preparatory Workshop provided PSI delegates with an opportunity to review the whole GFMD process and consolidate PSI’s key messages and proposals in response to the identified thematic issues, which include (1) access to services, (2) mixed migration, (3) labour migration, (4) climate-related displacement and (5) criminalization of migrants and those assisting them.

The afternoon’s Public Forum, entitled “Dialogue on Migration and Decent Work: The Human Rights Approach” brought together leaders, including young workers, of PSI affiliated unions in Ecuador, other trade unions, representatives of migrant networks in Ecuador, grassroots organizations, foundations, the International Labour Office, and the academia.

The forum allowed a lively debate from the various sectors of society on what migration and development mean in Ecuador, in the region, and globally, while highlighting issues of labour migration, decent work, and policies and public services for migrant workers from the human rights approach.

Common threads that came out in the discussion showed the recognition that migration is a natural human phenomenon, that migrants have inherent human and labour rights, how neoliberal policies lead the loss of jobs, attacks on trade union rights and the dismantling of public services that deliver on the human rights to social protection, health, shelter, education, public spaces, water and sanitation and various other services for migrants and their host communities.

It was also highlighted the urgent need to fight tensions and xenophobia through public awareness and inclusive employment and social policies and public services, among others.

At the end of the forum, participants felt that dialogues such as this are needed in order to continue bringing the voices of the various sectors of civil society, including the migrants themselves, in order to ensure their full participation in social, economic and migration policies in Ecuador and in the region. The meeting concluded with a commitment from PSI and its allies to continue such dialogues in the future.