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Cory DeVries - Blog Post 1: MFA Orientation: Amman, Jordan

Cory DeVries - Blog Post 1: MFA Orientation: Amman, Jordan

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On July 2-3, I had the chance to go to Amman Jordan for the ‘West Asia Civil Society Regional Consultation’. This was the last of 7 global consultations that have taken place over the past 3 months. Previous consultations took place in Bangkok, Mexico, Athens, Brazil, Kenya and Washington D.C. These consultations were attended by prominent civil society groups, trade union leaders, members of embassies, lawyers and representatives from legal/aid agencies, public service agencies, national human right committees in the region, and faith based organizations… (to give you an idea of the background and variety of people who were invited).

All of these consultations were in preparation for the UN High Level Dialogue Interactive Civil Society hearing that took place on July 15th. The hearing was in preparation for UN HIgh Level Dialogue happening October 3-4. This will be the second UN HLD on Migration and Development ever, the first being in 2006. Here, the UN General Assembly will be coming together on the discussion of improving ‘the governance of migration – in particular as regards the protection of the human rights of all migrants; perceptions of migrants and migration; and reflection of migration in national and global development agendas’.

Here is the basic structure for the these consultations:

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I was bit a shocked to learn that I would be going to Jordan only after working at MFA for two weeks. I was officially invited/found out I was going on a June 25th (Tuesday) and would be leaving on June 30th (Sunday). That day, I found about my preliminary responsibilities for consultation. At this point, I took over all the logistics of the consultation from a co-worker who would be in Katmandu for the week (communication was near impossible). I needed to confirm flights for around 25 participants arriving from Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Dubai, Egypt and Lebanon. I was also responsible for ensuring their visas, coordinating with hotel for conference rooms, booking participants rooms, helping to plan social events in the evening, creating background documents, directories… There were around 40 participants (the rest from Jordan) that I needed to know by name and organization to effectively coordinate with the hotel and the co-coordinators of the program. It was insanely hectic.

 

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This is Ms. Alia Hindawi, she is a Project Manager for the International Labour Organization.  My supervisor at MFA and Alia who were the main facilitators and presenters of the consultation.  Out of all the participants, I spent the most time with Alia, she was not what I was expecting at all.  I had assumed that employees of the ILO would be fairly intense human beings, considering the work they have cut out for them.  Alia was charismatic, kind and had an awesome sense of humor.

During, the consultation, the 40 participants were divided into 7 groups to discuss policy recommendations they want to bring to the table on July 15th.  They were following the guidelines of a 7 point agenda that civil society had prepared, which is:

1. Regulating the Recruitment Industry
2. Stranded Migrants
3. Post 2015 Development Agenda
4. Labour Right for Migrant Workers
5. Rights for Migrant Women, Rights and Best Interests of Children in Migration
6. Promoting the Exchange of Good Practice and Enactment and Implementation of National Legislation
7. Redefinition of International Mechanisms of Migrant Rights Protection

Each group needed to come up with 3 policy recommendations for the point that they were given.  I sat in as facilitator on the discussion for the Rights of Women and Children, it was challenging to say the least.  Everyone was coming from different angles – the Trade Unionists from Kuwait wanted one thing while the representatives of the Anti-Racist Movement in Lebanon wanted another.  It was difficult facilitating this conversation when the entire conversation was in Arabic and my translator would be inevitably slightly lagging with the pace of conversation (almost the entire conference was in Arabic).  In the end, our group did come together to produce several solid policy recommendations and it was great when they had a chance to present our consolidated effort to the rest of the conference. 

This final outcome document will be presented/referenced to during the hearing on July 15th.  It was also be taken back the participants respective countries to use in lobbying their governments.  You can read the outcome document from THIS consultation here: http://hld2013.gcmigration.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/West-Asia-Outcome-Document-Final-English.pdf

While in Amman, I had the chance to meet up with a fellow Canadian – Karen Campbell, a previous intern and MFA.  Karen interned at MFA a few years ago, became full time staff, and now does project based work for MFA from her home in Ontario.  Karen also works for the Global Coalition on Migration who coordinated all of these regional consultations.  Her involvement in all this process has been extensive, one of her tasks included creating the Consolidated Global Report from all 7 of the Regional Consultations. Something I can only assume would not be easy taking into account not only the diversity of the different demands per region, but as mentioned earlier, the different demands from various participants in each Consultation.

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Being surrounded by such prominent people in the conference hall and watching everyone debate, strategize, and ultimately work together to look for ways to improve the rights and livelihood for migrant workers in the Arab region was inspiring.

I often hear people say that there are too many problems in the world to put any effort into trying to fix them or that some issues are just too big to try to fight.  I found this Consultation proves otherwise.  True, there are countless causes one can take up, but all 42 of these people had come together in Amman with the a focus on the specific issue of protecting the rights of Migrants globally. This is how change happens.  Committed people coming together with a clear and direct focus on a specific issue they are choosing to engage with and combat.

You can read more about all this here:

http://hld2013.gcmigration.org/

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Migration/SRMigrants/Pages/HighLevelDialogueonMigrationandDevelopment.aspx