A Transatlantic Roundtable on Human Mobility

May 19 2021 @ 5:00 pm – 8:30 pm CEST

Agora Europe, in partnership with Studio Europa Maastricht (SEM), organised on Wednesday May 19th at 11h00 AM EST / 05h00 PM CET, a transatlantic roundtable on human mobility.

The live webinar tackled different topics, in relation to migration; the concept of borders, sea rescue and saving lives, discrimination, xenophobia and counternarratives, with a particular focus on COVID-19, while taking into consideration the Global Compact on Migration and the New EU Pact on Migration and Asylum. In preparation of the roundtable a closed workshop took place to which scholars and practitioners of Agora Europe’s network, and other experts were invited to share experiences and practices, in turn furthering cooperation towards the development of common approaches to dignified migration, addressing discrimination and social justice in the migration field.

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The webinar was held on zoom and was also broadcasted live on Facebook.
The video showing the highlights of the roundtable can be found on YouTube and below.

Content and topic
A broad range of factors will affect the characteristics and scale of migration in the future. The decisions we make in the face of today’s unparalleled challenge to global mobility and people on the move will affect the global social and economic landscape for years to come. The benefits of international migration are evidenced and substantiated by a plethora of research and recognized by states on both sides of the migration coin. Yet, discrimination, xenophobia, hate speech and hate crimes continue to plague our societies. The COVID-19 pandemic has, on the one hand, evidenced the critical needs of migrants to ensure a global supply chain of essential goods and services, however, it has also “amplified anti-foreigner narratives, racial and ethnic stereotyping, and biases that evoke fear, bigotry, exclusion, and violence”[1].

The phenomenon of migration is currently facing a triple watershed moment, at a global, European and national level, in consideration of the discussion and implementation, respectively, of the Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the New Pact on Migration and Asylum proposed by the European Commission, and the immigration decree 21 Ottobre 2020, n. 130 recently adopted by the Italian government, which had an immediate impact on sea rescue operations. Our discussion will focus on narratives and counternarratives of discrimination and xenophobia in relation to migration, sea rescue, processes of externalization of borders, and the COVID-19 pandemic, within the broader frame of the implementation of the GCM and the New EU Pact and will contribute to overcoming the emergency approach.

Both the public roundtable of May 19th and the preparatory closed workshop featured two sessions mirroring the modalities resolution on the global reporting on the GCM at the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF)[2]. Accordingly, both events will focus on two of the four roundtables, specifically: roundtable two (GCM objectives 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13 and 21), and roundtable four (GCM objectives 1, 3, 7, 17 and 23)[3].

The discussion was divided into two sessions, for which the titles are as follows.

  • Saving lives, protecting migrants, and advocacy for humane cross-border mobility.
  • Enhancing cooperation on evidence-based migration policymaking and public debate.

Participants were invited to share good practices, lessons learned, and recommendations for governments, CSO, and the private sector as well as academia largely on the above topics.

Dictionary on Mobility and Borders
On the occasion, Agora Europe also launched its new initiative “Dictionary on Mobility and Borders” (DMB). The DMB is an academic and cultural project, consisting of an action-oriented handbook with critical entries of 8.000/10.000 characters, based on a multi-stakeholder approach. It aims to provide an extensive and structured contribution to the ongoing global debate on human mobility among scholars, practitioners and representatives. The DMB will contribute to create a common lexicon and will serve as a critical tool to generate a new political discourse on migration and shape counternarratives vis-à-vis discrimination and xenophobia.

Scholars and practitioners from different regions and institutions shared their field and research insights during the conference. Speakers include: Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Columbia • Etienne Balibar, Columbia University • Brando Benifei, MEP • Naor Ben-Yehoyada, Columbia University • Magali Bessone, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne • Claude Calame, EHESS • Ariane Chebel d’Appollonia, Sciences Po / Rutgers University • Caterina Di Fazio, Maastricht University • Chijioke Evoh, UNDP • Maria Giannacopoulos, Flinders University • Ayten Gundogdu, Columbia University • Virginie Lefèvre, Amel Association International • Monami Maulik, United Nations Network on Migration Secretariat, Civil Society Liaison Officer • Rosalind Morris, Columbia University • Daniel Naujoks, Columbia University • Kalypso Nicolaidis, University of Oxford / European University Institute • Roberta Rughetti, Amref Health Africa – Italy • Marcello Scalisi, UNIMED – Mediterranean Universities Union, Director • Costanza Sciubba Caniglia, Harvard Kennedy School • Melissa Siegel, UNU-MERIT / Maastricht University • Yayra Sumah, Columbia University • Kian Tajbakhsh, Columbia University • Anna Triandafyllidou, Ryerson University • Catherine Wihtol de Wenden, Sciences Po

The roundtable was co-sponsored by the United Nations Network on Migration, Columbia University Committee on Forced Migration, Alliance Program, Maison Française, Sciences Po CERI, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University,UNIMED-Mediterranean Universities Union, Amref Health Africa – Italia and United Nations University UNU-MERIT, and is part of the “OTHERSIDE // EUROPE” Series inaugurated at Columbia University in 2019.

[1] https://migrationnetwork.un.org/freedom-racial-discrimination-right-not-privilege
[2] https://migrationnetwork.un.org/sites/default/files/docs/imrf.pdf
[3] Roundtable 2 – GCM objective 8: Save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants; GCM objective 9: Strengthen the transnational response to smuggling of migrants; GCM objective 10: Prevent, combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration; GCM objective 11: Manage borders in an integrated, secure and coordinated manner; Roundtable 4 – GCM objective 1: Collect and utilize accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies; GCM objective 3: Provide accurate and timely information at all stages of migration; GCM objective 7: Address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration; GCM objective 17: Eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration; GCM objective 23: Strengthen international cooperation & global partnerships for safe, orderly & regular migration.


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