NEW YORK—International migration can make positive contributions to global development, but it is often stifled by uncoordinated responses from U.N. member states and agencies, according to Rolf Jenny, Ph.D., executive director of the Global Commission for International Migration—the 19-member group launched in 2003 by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to develop a global response to the growing migrant population.
“The international community has not risen to the many opportunities and challenges that international migration presents,” Jenny told more than 100 migration experts and policy-makers assembled on Oct. 25 at the Millennium U.N. Plaza Hotel to discuss the commission’s report, released in early October.
Fordham University and the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) of New York organized the daylong forum to provide “an opportunity to have an open and frank discussion about the report’s findings,” said Mary Powers, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Fordham. She and Joseph Chamie, Ph.D., director of research at CMS, received a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to host the forum.
Today, there are nearly 200 million international migrants—a number that has more than doubled in the last 25 years. According to the report, discordant migration policies have in many ways contributed to their exploitation, discrimination and abuse across the world. The commission outlined a set of principles to guide policy initiatives.
Researchers and policy-makers lauded the report for its comprehensive evaluation of the world’s migrant population, yet cautioned that its findings and recommendations were only the first step and would have to be acknowledged and incorporated by U.N. member states and agencies to be effective.
“The policy recommendations outlined in this report will be central to the debate of international migration for years to come,” said Jose Antonio Ocampo, the U.N. under-secretary general. “The report advances the idea of liberalizing global markets and puts human rights of migrants at the fore.”
In May 2003, after 40 years of collaborating informally, Fordham and the Center for Migration Studies, which examines sociodemographic, historical, economic, political, legislative and pastoral aspects of migration and refugee movements, formally joined forces to facilitate cooperation in the multidisciplinary study of human migration.
“The forum shows the University’s strong connections to the national and international organizations working in the field,” Powers said. “It also demonstrates Fordham’s commitment to a more formal alliance with the Center for Migration Studies.”