CANADA’S RESPONSES TO QUESTIONNAIRE – 14.10.2010
ASSESSMENT REGARDING THE FUTURE OF THE REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON MIGRATION (rCm) OR PUEBLA PROCESS
Fifteen years after the establishment of the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM) also known as Puebla Process, Member Countries have accomplished great achievements; however, the dynamics of our societies have changed significantly, posing new challenges for the future of our Conference.
From the previous and within the framework of the XV Vice-Ministerial Meeting of the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM)held on May 20-21, 2010, the Presidency Pro-Témpore (PPT) proposedan exercise of reflection among member countries in order to identify forms of renewing the effectiveness of the RCM to address the complex topic of migration in the region and attend what proposed in the text “Strengthening the Regional Conference on Migration, Eight years after its Creation” approved by the Vice-Ministers during the IX Meeting of the RCM in 2004.
Given the above, the PPT has prepared the questionnaire included below, in the hope that each governmental instance represented in the RCM completes the questionnaire from its own perspective. The results will be systematized by the Technical Secretariat, with the aim of submitting a summary of key concepts and proposals as input for discussions to be held at the upcoming meeting of the Regional Consultation Group on Migration (RCGM). Please submit your completed questionnaire and comments to the Technical Secretariat (TS) by September 19, 2010. Please phrase your answers in a succinct manner. However, this does not mean that proposals are restricted.
- How do you envision the RCM in the short and medium term?
Participation in the RCM process is voluntary. As long as the RCM maintains a regional perspective to deal with migration issues, and sets aside political discourse, it will continue to be an effective forum for dialogue, cooperation, and communication for facilitating bilateral and regional exchanges on policy development and working-group meetings on the margins of plenary meetings.
- What aspects of the phenomenon of migration do we need to address through the RCM?
Migration policy is a domestic affair and reflects countries’ socio-political, economic and historic realities. The RCM facilitates exchanges of good practices and experience to learn from one another.
The RCM has proven that there are a number of migration areas which can be dealt with, such as consular protection, cooperation on voluntary return, labour migration, integration and refugee protection. There are other areas which although not exclusively ‘migration,’ can also foster cooperation, such as trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling.
Given that countries’ have sovereign right and responsibility to decide who enters into their territories, agreements for joint action on any specific aspect of migration should not be considered an ongoing expectation for the RCM.
- Should the RCM expand its membership? Please explain the pros and cons of your proposal.
No. The success of the RCM is based largely on its own regional geography; this has allowed its membership, despite marked differences, to takebalanced approaches to decision making regarding ‘regional migration issues’. Expanding, either to Caribbean or South American countries will break this balance and risk bringing to the table issues which may not apply to all member countries. It is better that these other regionsset up or strengthen their own consultative processes, as necessary. Observer status for international organizations should be considered on a case-by-case basis, if the guidelines allow, changed circumstances warrant it and the Vice-Ministers agree.
- Under which purpose should we include civil society in a manner which enables fuller participation?
Civil society should be valued on its own strengths of alerting to specific situations, providing constructive criticism and providingservices to migrants. But civil society organizations do not have the same level of responsibility or accountability that governments have; thus, their participation should be focused and built around those strengths, informing and providing a front-line alternative perspective to discussions on issues and agenda items where member states specifically agree beforehand to its participation. The civil society should have fuller participation in the policy formulation/development at the domestic level.
- Is the participation format of observing countries in the efforts implemented by the RCM satisfactory? Would you propose any changes?
Observer countries’ interest and participation has been, during the years, quite inconsistent. The onus for an effective participation rests on those countries. No changes are proposed.
- Is the participation format ofInternational Organizations in the work ofthe RCM satisfactory? Would you propose any changes? Should more organizations of this type be invited -provided that they comply with the established requirements- What should be done about those international organizations that no longer participate in the RCM?
The RCM is a state-led process and IOs participation is built on their expertise as specialized bodies, in the case of UNHCR, this also includes ensuring that RCM member countries are in compliance with their obligations regarding refugee protection. Now, concerning ‘dormant’ IOs, the RCGM should look at mandating the TS to approach these IOs asking whether they are still interested in participating or not. Having these ‘dormant’ IOs just adds costs and unnecessary logistical complications.
- Given that migration has become a crucial topic on government agendas and at a regional level, how should the RCM be linked with other regional consultation processes involved in matters of migration?
One has to ask, what the link would consist of and the value added of “linking” the RCM with other RCPs. The RCM is a deliberation forum that does not have positions nor legal mandate standing; it requires member consensus for any action, joint declaration or position, so participation in other RCPs cannot be more than what was mandated for the PPT and TS at the XV RCM. The RCM should continue to invite other viable RCPs to its Vice-Ministerial meetings but it is up to the membership of those RCPs to determine whether they want to participate or not.
- What margin of action should the Presidency Pro-Tempore of the RCMhave?
The role of the PPT is to carry out all RCM decisions, by itself or through the TS. Based on its chosen theme the PPT can develop activities in support of the theme. It would represent the RCM at international events, but cannot speak on behalf of any country in particular;rather, it might be able to speak on regional issues, when tasked, taking into consideration the particular differences among member countries.
- What is the role of the Troika?
The Troika is to be consulted when there is a pressing issue to be considered and there is not enough time to have a full consultation to all member countries, or when the Viceministers agree to delegate it a particular task (as was the case with a temporary selection process for the TS Coordinator position). Any action taken by the Troika are subject to be considered for approval by all member countries VM’s at the earliest opportunity.
- What should be the frameworkof reference for the Technical Secretariat?
The TS is there to work for all RCM member countries in ensuring the continued operation of the process, including undertaking communication, consultation and coordination of planned activities within the existing framework and approved budget, which establish the operating parameters of the TS. The PPT will implement VMs’ decisions using the services of the TS, especially its coordinator. The TS coordinator can, under the authority of the PPT, be called to share RCM experiences with other bodies when this is deemed to be in the best interest of the RCM as a whole.
Surely these are not the only questions that should be asked regarding this important Process. However, we are sure that they will stimulate discussion on the future of the RCM. Therefore, we would appreciate receiving your preference regarding the format for this exercise to be implemented. The objective of this initiative is to improve the design of the Conference in order to enable the RCM to continue being a useful forum for reflection on public policies from each member country and to harmonize actions relating to migration implemented in the region.