[ 04. Dec 2008 ]

Montreuil Declaration

Within the second Euro-African non-governmental conference on "Migration and Development" on 17. October 2008 in Montreuil, in the suburbs of Paris, activists and AktivistInnen und delegates of 300 Initiativs NGOs participated. Documentation form the final declaration.


Montreuil, 17. Oktobre 2008

Des ponts, pas des murs - bridges not walls

We, civil society actors from the South and from the North, meeting in Montreuil (France), in the continuance of the work of the First Euro-African NGO Conference in Rabat in 2006, adopt the following Declaration :

For the respect of the universal right to freedom of movement (Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

We refuse to let humanity be divided between those who can freely move and those who are prevented from doing so. Migrations have always been a human phenomenon and constitute an invaluable economic and cultural contribution for Northern as well as Southern countries. This contribution, although historically acknowledged, is being disregarded in favour of security and economical requirements which translate into an overall distrust towards "foreigners", as is shown by the European Parliament’s recently adopted "return directive". Northern governments, with the complicity of their Southern counterparts, bear a heavy responsibility in world disorders. The worldwide ecological, economical and financial crisis and its corollary, the nutrition crisis, demonstrate the failure of the current world system which generates poverty and increases North-South imbalances. It is aberrant that the only answer to migrants comes in the form of militarised borders and imprisonment camps. This radicalisation and tension towards security matters is in opposition to the emblematic values of the European Union : democracy, respect for human rights and freedom of movement. Migrants are before anything women, men and children with rights. These rights cannot be denied under the sole pretext of missing papers. The individual and collective liberties of each one of us are threatened when civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of foreigners are restricted.

For an approach to migration and development based on the mutual interests of migrants and the societies of the North and South.

The right to mobility is one of the factors in the development and the reduction of inequalities and poverty in the South as in the North. Development policies should not therefore be used as an instrument for restricting the freedom of movement of persons. Migration allows for the building of bridges between societies. It is high time that the question of migration and development be genuinely considered through the perspective of mutual interests, first and foremost those of migrants, those of the countries of origin, and then those of transit and host countries, in accordance with international instruments relating to human rights protection. We must no longer leave the question of migration in the sole hands of states, moreover Northern states, in a climate where the economic and financial crisis threatens to further increase poverty and risks fuelling xenophobia and violence towards migrants in host and transit countries. We do not want a Europe whose response is to transform itself into a fortress and impose its "European Pact on Immigration and Asylum" without concertation with Southern countries and civil societies. It is for us, civil societies of the North and South, to invent together other migration and development policies and to demand that they are based on justice and the respect of rights and dignity of human beings.

We want bridges, not walls!

We require :
  • the application of Article 13* of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the decriminalisation of "illegal" crossing of borders, the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and the effective enforcement of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child in the countries of departure, countries of transit and host countries ;
  • the facility for all migrants to have access to full citizenship and for all laws concerning migrants to be founded on equal rights between citizens. In the short term, we require the extension of conditions applicable to Community residents, notably the right to vote, to all residents ;
  • the end of the mutual dependence of the right of residence and the right to work, the respect of private and family life and an autonomous status for each spouse ;
  • the implementation of the right to development as defined by the Declaration on the Right to Development adopted by the United Nations in 1986 and the immediate cancellation of debts of Southern countries, all the more since it makes the Millennium Development Goals unattainable ;
  • the Southern countries to refuse to sign bilateral or multilateral agreements which undermine their integrity and dignity and comprise conditional elements and notably readmission clauses ;
  • the end of the militarization of African borders imposed by the European Union ;
  • the freedom of choice of and access to a host country for asylum seekers and refugees (the end of the so-called "Dublin system" and of the so-called "safe" countries) and the elimination of all forms of externalising asylum procedures ;
  • a wide interpretation of the notion of a refugee, to comprise notably the victims of violations of economic, social and environmental rights and of collective persecutions ;
  • pending the closure of all detention centres, a prohibition on the detention of asylum seekers and the setting-up of independent mechanisms of control of these centres ;
  • the protection of female migrants victims of violence of any nature ;
  • a genuine visibility in national and international discussion forums of the material actions of migrant women in countries of origin, transit countries and host countries ;
  • the unconditional protection of migrant children and notably the prohibition of their detention and their expulsion, the effective enforcement of their right to training and education, as well as the regularisation of young adults.

*Art. 13 of the UDHR : "Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."