OSCE provides a unique platform for migration

CDA.nl (Dutch)

11 August 2011

By Kathleen Ferrier and Kamiel Mesie

For many years, the topic of migration has dominated the political debate in the Netherlands; in particular the negative consequences of migration. Here, people (unconsciously?) use terms that generate fear, such as metaphors referring to floods, like 'migration flows', 'waves of migrants' or in terms of referring to uncontrollable quantities, e.g., 'mass immigration'. The 'death' of multiculturalism is omnipresent in the news. 

We often see criticism of the effects of bad policy choices. We have failed to link recognition to hospitality, justice to security, and integration to diversity. Yet the solution to problems with integration does not merely lie with reducing migration. Just the same as the challenges that migration brings cannot merely be explained by referring to multiculturalism and integration.

It is easy to label the many years of integration of migrants in the Netherlands as 'failed' and it sure must be attractive for some to dramatically proclaim the 'death' of multiculturalism. This, however, does not reflect the successful efforts by many migrants who, despite policy failures, have been able to gain a place in society in which they are involved and convinced to participate in. Moreover, these proclamations of 'death' or 'failure' make little sense when the very cause of migration keeps being ignored.

While migration and integration may be closely related, they are very different subjects. We should not only look at the impact of migration in the Netherlands; if we want to tackle migration issues adequately, we should look at how migration policies in other countries affect global migration movements. How do these movements come along? What regional circumstances prompt people to leave their country? And with what expectations do people leave their country? For good? Or is it only a temporary stay abroad? If we are not committed to developing appropriate international policy, we put the human dignity of migrants at stake.

Therefore, we have to look beyond our own backyard. We need to look across borders in order to understand international migration in a broader context. Migration in one country has a direct and explainable impact on migration in other countries. Problems of migration require an international approach and the current debate in the Netherlands also needs a more international stance, based on proven facts rather than gut feelings.

To properly develop policies based on reliable data, we need to have an international data system, a system containing data from both countries in the European Union as the countries beyond. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) offers an excellent platform to share experiences with migration policy not only with EU Member States, the U.S. and Canada, but also with the OSCE countries in Central Asia and the former Soviet Union, where many immigrants pass through or have their origin.

In the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, representatives of 55 parliaments come together on a yearly basis to jointly tackle their common challenges. Last month, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution on migration, drafted by me, with overwhelming majority. The resolution calls for the establishment of an international network of focal points in the OSCE region. In this manner, policy makers from different countries will be able to work closer together and it will become easier to see the big picture, showing clearly how migration flow emerge and how they are affected by policies in other countries.

Similar networks of national contact persons already exist within the OSCE, for instance in combating human trafficking and in the fight against organized crime. Close co-operation and the sharing of experiences and expertise between the countries have proved highly effective in these policy areas. It is very important to tackle cross-border issues in the context of an international organization like the OSCE, precisely because the OSCE provides a unique platform and does an incredible amount of work in facilitating co-operation between its participating States.

Migration is a feature of all times and will always be there. It is an integral part of our globalized world. There is no country in the world that can resolve its migration issues by itself. There is no need for us in the Netherlands to reinvent the wheel again and again when we can actually learn from the good and the bad experiences of other countries in the framework of international co-operation.

Kathleen Ferrier is Member of Parliament for the Dutch Christian Democratic Party (CDA) and is Special Representative for Migration in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Kamiel Mesie is a Research Fellow for the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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