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November 30, 2011 – Geneva, Switzerland

Day Two – Global Forum on Migration and Development, Civil Society Days

On the second day of the GFMD, Cathleen continued with Theme 3, this day entitled “Circular/Temporary Migration.” Pro-business participants explored how the temporary worker programs must better and more efficiently fit their needs, and the advocates stressed how flawed the programs are. No significant outcomes were produced. There was a sense of frustration that these issues have already been discussed at previous CSDs but with little effect on the governments.

During the lunch break, Cathleen, Yadira Huerta of Global Workers, and Waldemar Barrera, a Global Workers Defender Network member from Guatemala (both were in Geneva to attend the parallel PGA conference), met with the heads of labor migration at the International Organization of Migration (IOM).

As noted in previous blog entries (06/24/11 , 8/23/10 , 9/2/10), IOM stepped in to the recruitment business in 2003 to bring Guatemala workers to Canada. The program has been plagued with serious violations of workers rights. While there is a new director now in place, IOM has yet to reconcile the rights violations workers suffered in the past. Front and center is the reintegration of Jose Sicajau into the program. Evidence suggests that IOM retaliated against Jose and others when they stood up for a Mexican co-worker who was physically assaulted by a Canadian farmer. Global Workers and UFCW-Canada have been working with Jose and his organization AGUND to fight for justice. The IOM program heads did not know about the specific case examples and pledged to look into it. If IOM does not take concrete actions by February, Global Workers, UFCW-Canada, and AGUND will escalate the demands by taking to street protests in Guatemala during the temporary worker conference scheduled for February 12-14, 2012 in Guatemala City.

The afternoon CSD joint session was a shared space with Civil Society and governments dedicated to the future of the GFMD-CSD. An important development of this year’s CSD is that an NGO, International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), was chosen to organize the event, as opposed to a local foundation. As a result, Civil Society ownership of the process was evident at every turn. The CSD themes were chosen through a deliberate and broad consultation. A notable change was the extent of official interactions between the three forums. There are actually three forums that take place either simultaneously or consecutively, depending on the structure of that particular year. This years’ CSD created opportunities for interaction without compromising each of the forum’s distinct goals. ICMC did an impressive job, and all of this with only one third of the budget from the 2010 CSD.

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