I attended the FfD Conference where the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) was adopted. Migration and remittances were positively included in the outcome document. However, it will be important to ensure policy coherence and alignment on what have been adopted in Addis and what will be adopted in the SDGs.
Migration, security, and development are inextricably linked. Understanding these linkages is important to correct public misperceptions as well as promote more effective policies; but they have largely defied research and analysis to date. KNOMAD Thematic Working Group on Migration, Security, and Development seeks to articulate an analytical framework on the linkages, drawing on a range of existing empirical case studies.
It is clear that migration, security and development are linked. Policies in one arena can promote positive outcomes in another. For example secure borders are an integral component of well-managed migration, which in turn can help match migrants’ skills to labour market demands, while also empowering migrants to contribute to development in their countries of origin. Equally, and especially where policy is poorly coordinated, unintended consequences can ensue. While numerous factors contribute to the global growth of migrant smuggling, there is strong research evidence that smugglers may profit when border controls tighten, in turn exposing migrants to risk, exploitation and vulnerability.
Remittances have been the main source of foreign exchange supporting Somalia during the conflict for the last twenty years. A recent IMF fact-finding mission to Somalia found that about $2 billion in remittances are handled by money transfer companies. These companies are located throughout the country and they are providing shadow banking services since there are no licensed commercial banks. Somalis called this system “xawilaad” which is the Somali rendering of the Arabic word “hawala”.
Since the events of September 11, 2001, many countries have adopted stringent Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terror (AML-CFT) regulations for funds transfers. Several banks in the US (Wells Fargo, US Bank, the TCF bank, and Sunrise Community Bank) and in the UK closed the accounts of money services business to avoid incurring in penalties for not complying with the new regulations. (Note: HSBC was fined $1.9 billion for not complying with money laundering controls in 2012.)
In the run up to the UN High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development that will take place in October 2013, there is a lot of discussion among migration experts on how migration might feature in the post-2015 development agenda. A foremost spokesperson for the migration community is Peter Sutherland, Chairman of Goldman Sachs International and the London School of Economics, and UN Special Representative for International Migration and Development (and former Director General of the World Trade Organization, EU Commissioner for Competition, and Attorney General of Ireland) has published a very timely, useful and well-written op-ed today, titled "Migration is Development". He writes,
"To succeed, the post-2015 agenda must break the original mold. It must be grounded in a fuller narrative about how development occurs – a narrative that accounts for complex issues such as migration. Otherwise, the global development agenda could lose its relevance, and thus its grip on stakeholders....[M]igration is the original strategy for people seeking to escape poverty, mitigate risk, and build a better life."
Work on establishing the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) is going on at full speed. A key part of that work is to create a solid and strong identity for KNOMAD. However, instead of going the usual route of getting this done through a graphic design company, we are asking creative people throughout the world to design a logo for an institution whose work will, directly or indirectly, touch the lives of the world’s estimated 1 billion migrants.
So, do join us in this exciting process of creating KNOMAD’s identity. The KNOMAD International Logo Competition is open to people from anywhere in the world. There is no age restriction and participants can be individuals or companies or amateurs working as a team. The only requirement is your creativity. There’s a US$2,500 dollar cash award on offer for the winning design.
The competition closes on December 31 and we are looking forward to a truly global participation.
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It is a pleasure to receive the inaugural issue of a new journal Migration and Development published by Routledge. While many journals are publishing articles on migration and development and a few are exclusively dedicated to the topic of migration, this new journal has the potential to comprehensively introduce more development into the discussions of migration issues. The journal includes articles written bypolitical scientists, sociologists, anthropologists and economists - a welcome feature for policy makers and stakeholders. I also liked the fact that the first issue of the journal has articles on internal migration (in India) and on migration to the Gulf region - both these topics are important and yet relevant data are hard to come by.
The proceeds of the bond will be used to fund the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam. This dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when completed (5,250 Mega Watts). The first one was called the Millennium Corporate bond, and was for raising funds for the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO) . The first diaspora bond issuance did not meet the expectations. Sales were slow during the first months of offering despite the efforts of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the embassies and consulates to sell them. Some risks that the diaspora faced were: i) risk perceptions on the payment ability of EEPCO on its future earnings from the operations of the hydroelectric power; ii) lack of trust in the government as a guarantor; and iii) political risks.
At approximately 46 million, the diaspora population originating from the ECA (Europe & Central Asia) countries is the largest of all the development regions. Over ten percent of the population of the ECA countries currently lives outside their home countries, a much larger share than the 3 percent of the world’s population who are defined as migrants. Even if some immigrants choose to fully assimilate in the recipient countries, there is still a significant number who maintains active links to their countries of origin. The flow of remittances in ECA coming from this Diaspora is also quite significant, more than 30 percent of GDP in some ECA countries. This financial contribution has led to a dialogue on potential Diaspora Bonds to attract much needed investment for capital projects (see Dilip Ratha’s work).
Remittances, or the money migrant workers send home to their countries of origin, are finally recovering to pre-crisis levels. In 2010, remittance flows to developing countries reached $325 billion, and they are poised to continue growing sustainably through 2013, according to the World Bank’s latest Outlook for Remittance Flows 2011-13.
This is very good news for developing countries. For many of them, money sent by their migrant workers living abroad is a very important source of external financing –sometimes even higher than the revenues obtained from oil exports or tourism. Thanks to the money being made in the U.S. by their relatives, millions of Mexican families can put food at their tables, just as Indians and Filipinos benefit the same way from the remittances sent from rich and oil producing countries in the Middle East.
The more I work on migration issues, I have come to realize the uniqueness of the CIS region migration phenomena. Migration in what is currently called the CIS region (the former Soviet Union) includes both migration within the region and external migration. Although the CIS countries are now nation states, they were earlier part of one country. The migration phenomena, therefore, existed for more than 70 years before the fall of Soviet Union in 1991. Despite being ethnically different, almost all speak Russians (although the fluency in Russian is declining over time, especially in the younger generation). There is substantial movement of goods and services and trade integration across the region.