June 24 to 28, 2019
The Promise of Migration
The International Metropolis Conferences offer a neutral forum for discussing contemporary migration and integration and their effects on societies and their cities. These conferences are characterized by the equal participation of academic researchers, policy officials of governments and the international community, and civil society who, in a spirit of co-operation, seek a better understanding of migration-related phenomena and solutions to the challenges that they present.
The 2019 Conference will explore the opportunities and challenges regarding the fulfillment of the “promise of migration” for the well being of the migrants, host societies, and sending communities. The Conference is an opportunity to pause and reflect on the promise of migration, that is, its potential to enhance inclusion, economic growth, and global co-operation. The discussions will be framed around the plenary themes outlined below and further elaborated by keynote speakers and the workshops, while integrating a wide range of cross-cutting policy themes such as identity, diversity, gender, intersectionality, children and best practices.
In response to the migration and refugee movements in the Mediterranean region in 2015 and 2016, the United Nations launched a twin process of creating a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration and a Global Compact on Refugees. The GCM was adopted in December of 2018 at a conference in Marrakech and the GCR was adopted by the UN General Assembly also in December 2018. By all accounts, this coming to agreement by the international community was a remarkable achievement in itself. What remains to be seen is how these agreements will be used by UN member states, especially to manage migration and refugee-related crises of the sort that motivated their creation. Speakers in this session will look carefully and critically at what has been achieved by the compacts and will reflect as well on the potential for migration to contribute to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Although the size of South to South migration flows are the equal of South to North flows, they receive comparatively less attention by academic researchers, national governments, and the international community whose concerns have been dominated by the interests of Europe and North America. With the rise of interest in the global scope of migration, including at the United Nations, a better understanding of South-South migration is overdue. This plenary session will focus on countries in the global South as both labour destinations and sites of refuge. Speakers will examine the labour migration aspects of South-South migration, how these flows are managed and by whom, and the strains that countries in the Global South face in hosting often very large numbers of refugees.
The number of international migrants worldwide has continued to grow rapidly in recent years, and with it, so has the potential impact of these migrants on the host societies. As a result, there is increasing research and policy interest especially in the potential economic impacts of migration, including impacts on national incomes, living standards, labour force growth, economic activity, unemployment and wages, productivity, innovation, trade, investment, and job creation. This session will examine the links between migration policies and the resulting economic impacts, with speakers debating the economic benefits, risks, and costs associated with migration.
We know from international social surveys that the number of people wishing to migrate is much larger than the number of migrants desired by receiving states. A virtual industry of not only legitimate consultants and lawyers but as well smugglers and traffickers has emerged out of this mismatch, an industry that offers services to prospective migrants as well as to employers and, increasingly, educational institutions. These services range widely from assisting migrants to navigate the legal and administrative complexities of working overseas to the more pernicious human smuggling and trafficking. The results of labour migration can also vary according to the type of non-state actors used, and include, in some cases, the abuse of migrants’ human rights. Speakers in this plenary session will examine the challenges, risks, and advantages of managing migration through non-state actors and how migrants’ rights can be best protected.
The 1951 Geneva Convention on refugees restricts the definition of refugees to those who have crossed an international border in fleeing persecution. Those who had fled persecution or other forms of danger but who have not crossed their homeland border into another country are not regarded as refugees but are termed “internally displaced persons”. Theoretically, they are in the care of their homeland government until they leave their territory. The international community, recognizing the sovereignty of states over their territories, has been reluctant to intervene in cases where IDPs remain at risk within their homeland boundaries. It is only through measures justified by the “Responsibility to Protect”, adopted only in 2005, that the international community can intervene to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The reluctance to invoke the R2P remains high as has been seen in numerous recent cases including in Syria, Myanmar, Colombia, South Sudan, and many others. This session will look carefully at how IDPs can be better protected.
Information and communications technologies are playing an increasingly important role in refugee and asylum seeker movements and in the management of migration. This plenary will focus on the growth of artificial intelligence and the potential use and risks of algorithms in immigrant selection, , the use of biometrics to better manage migrant identity and mitigate security concerns, the use of social media in the integration of migrants, and the use of social media to mobilize anti-immigrant sentiments and actions.
Social integration, inevitably, occurs, or is impeded, in local contexts. To an important degree, the potential for integration is related to the nature and degree of interaction between people across diversity (ethnic, linguistic, religious, and socioeconomic, etc.). Municipal governments and civil society organizations play important roles in shaping this social context. With limited resources, for example, municipalities are expected to address everyday challenges faced by an increasingly diverse newcomer population that includes vulnerable groups such as refugees, children and LGBTQ2+ people. Also, the efforts of non-governmental organizations to support newcomer integration are heavily influenced by the social context. This plenary will explore the critical role of municipalities and local civil society in substantiating the “promise of migration” and in the successful inclusion of newcomers.
Growing public anxiety about immigration is one of the forces fuelling anti-immigration movements and populist politics. This is particularly true when migration is believed to be related to threats to national security. When this type of anxiety takes hold, it represents a growing challenge for the implementation of local, national, and international best practices in migration governance. This plenary will explore the relationship between migration, perceptions of risk, and public attitudes. It will also consider different approaches to generate and strengthen public confidence regarding immigration from the standpoint of established media and social networks, of government agencies, of international organizations, and of civil society.