From Abuja to Geneva: African Actors’ Engagement in the 14th GFMD Summit

Created in 2007, the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) is a state-led, informal and non-binding process, which helps shape the global debate on migration and development. The GFMD process provides an opportunity for governments to engage with a wide range of actors including civil society, the private sector, youth, migrants and diaspora, the UN system, academia, municipalities, among others. African states and civil societies have been engaged in the process since its inception. While limited and often random participation, the combined efforts of African civil society and diaspora, coupled with advocacy on state level, has resulted in important milestones for the GFMD.

The Abuja Declaration

At the beginning of 2023, the “African Non-State Actors Group on GFMD” convened the African Civil Society and Diaspora Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, to kick off the 2023 GFMD process. The Abuja Forum was aimed at building the capacity of stakeholders and strengthening meaningful engagement in the GFMD Process and other global migration frameworks. The Forum produced the ‘Abuja Statement’ which reflected the African actors’ considerations of GFMD priorities and provided a set of recommendations to African policymakers on three GFMD priority areas: climate change, labor migration and the diaspora.

Further to the Abuja Forum, the African Non-State Actors group have been deliberate, proactive and instrumental in mobilizing and sensitizing civil society participation ahead of the 14th GFMD Summit. Most of the activities after the Abuja Forum were focused on equipping African policy-makers with up-to-date migration trends in the continent and on lobbying for afro-centric perspectives to be reflected in the GFMD process.

Engagement with Members States and Trade Unions

A thematic workshop titled “Unpacking the GFMD process for African Member States’’ was held on 6 November 2023 in Brussels, Belgium, in collaboration with the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). It was an opportunity for state and non-state actors to exchange on the GFMD process, develop strategies for enhanced collaboration on priority areas as well as to make concrete recommendations for the active participation of all stakeholders in the realization of the GFMD objectives.

Representatives of the ‘African Group’ also closely engaged in ITUC-Africa’s ”African Trade Union Migration Network” (ATUMNET) Summit that focused on mobilizing trade union voices ahead of the GFMD summit and the GCM regional reviews. Several virtual forums were also held to bring together African non-state actors and policy-makers with the aim of capacitating actors to better address African migration concerns at the 14th GFMD Summit.

The series of in-person and virtual consultations helped the development of five policy papers on Climate Mobility, Diaspora, as well as Cultures and Narratives. Those papers were shared widely in the days leading up to the GFMD summit in Geneva, Switzerland, from 23-25 January 2024.

You can read the Policy Papers here:

African Voices Ring Loud at the 14th GFMD Summit

During the GFMD Summit, members of the ‘African Group’ actively participated in several thematic sessions, roundtables and side-events. During the engagements, representatives of the African group were vocal about pressing migration issues and concerns that are important for African nations, migrants and the diaspora.

In light of the Abuja Statement, the Outcomes of Brussels workshop, the virtual consultations and the policy papers produced by them, the African non-state actors formulated a number of key messages to African member states at the Summit. The key messages and recommendations by the group are focused on issues of Climate Mobility, Culture and Narratives, the Diasporas, Labor Migration, and the overall GFMD Process.

Apart from the input given regarding the topics discussed, the African non-state actors’ group also shared its concern about the shrinking space for participation of civil society in the GFMD process. A lack of funding and a reduction of civil society participation at the Summit stood in sharp contrast to earlier Summits where the character of an open and inclusive forum contributed to advancing global migration debates. The African group called upon the new chairmanship of the GFMD to promote return to the idea of an inclusive process by enabling dialogue platforms between civil society and member states.

FES AMPC has been actively supporting the work of the African group throughout 2023 leading up to the Geneva Summit


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