Tackling Root Causes of Migration

IUSY WORLD COUNCIL 2017 - Across borders - 23/26 March 2017 - Rosario, Argentina

Resolution presented by the European Committee

approved as modified by the amendment by the IUSY World Council 2017, on March, 25th.

Amendment nº1 – presented by SSU (approved)
Amendment nº2 – presented by SSU (approved)

Over the past years, migration continued to be ever demanding phenomena, affecting directly our way of life, our societies and countries. The root causes of these issues can be catalogued into three core areas; climate change, conflict and instability and economic development.

Root Cause: Economic Development

While there is currently a lot of discussion in Europe about migrants and their effect on the hosting countries, two dominating theories about the economic implications are still in high debate.

Important international institutions (such as the OECD and World Bank) are adopting theoretical models and arguments that migration, in the end, benefits the migrants, the hosting countries and the countries of origin. Such theories are based on microeconomic models and are being used when determining distribution of wealth, investment, and aid. Evidence has shown, however, that these models do not hold in reality. An example of such is the so-called “braindrain”, where lack of high-skilled workers outweighs the remittance, the capital transferred from migrants to their home countries. Middle-class families in developing countries benefit over-proportionally from these transfers, while the most vulnerable do usually not benefit at all. Similarly, the promised benefits for developing countries of numerous free-trade agreements also do not have the desired effect, but rather, in turn, harm the local and domestic industries which are not able to compete. Consequently, this prevents and hampers sustainable economic growth, labor market incentives and ultimately the bettering of livelihood.

At the same time, enforcement and increasing control on migration through additional security and border controls are being implemented. Such an increase, at times in violation of numerous human rights, is based on the notion that migration can be controlled and was brought about as a reaction to the rise of far-right movements. Historic evidence of stricter migration checks, for example between Latin America and United States, shows that increasing such controls did not have the desired effect.

Migration is only the tip of the iceberg, and the following is being proposed:

  1. Strengthen institutions and study exchanges in developing countries (create more flexible opportunities of migration) so as to provide temporary support and strengthen remittance;
  2. Work closely as member states with developing countries to strengthen the latter’s economies so as to create social mobility;
  3. Establish data analysis on such developing countries in order to better develop models so as to ensure proper distribution of wealth and aid; and
  4. Adopt policies which target directly economic development and sustainability, which in turn address poverty and social mobility. The fulfilment of Agenda 2030 should be the good for al countries in the world.

Root Cause: War and Conflict

Over the past few years, migration due to wars and conflict has increased drastically. This can be mainly attributed to the “Arab Spring” as well as to the political instability in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

European governments must recognise the role they have played, both directly and indirectly, in contributing to this instability. At the same time, the same governments need to take on the responsibility to act in a way which helps to resolve and prevent these conflicts.

Arms trade between developed countries and developing countries has been a significant factor in fuelling these conflicts. Saudi Arabia, an ally of the West, has been one of the main countries which supported these conflicts through the provision of arms. European countries have opted to put money and games above lives. As has been seen in Libya, the rulers used the arms obtained against their own civilians rather than for protection. Following invasions of countries in order to remove a number of dictators, especially within the Northern African and Middle East region, these countries have opted out of supporting the countries in building a state structure. For example, a number of countries were at the forefront to remove Gaddafi as a dictator from Libya. However, after this was done the same countries opted out from building a good transitional government. Member states within the EU also lack cooperation among one another with regards to foreign policies.

European countries and Europe’s dominant ideologies at the same time promote an economic agenda that undermines the possibility of a developmental state or for secular alternatives to neo-liberalism.

This trend needs to be reversed, where state-based development needs to be enabled and not sabotaged.

  1. First and foremost, if peace is not found within Northern Africa, then consequently there will not be peace in the Mediterranean or Europe. European countries have a responsibility to show far more commitment in enabling and facilitating these peace deals;
  2. The trade of weapon and strategic military goods must contain rules and regulations giving criteria for export of these goods. The core criteria must be democracy and human rights;
  3. The EU is required to abide by the requirements of the ECHR, both internally and also internationally. A European humanitarian organisation needs to be set up and this has to be given the powers to operate outside the European Borders in order to help migrants prior to their departure rather than during their transfer. Therefore, Europe’s focus on migration needs to be on facilitation and rescue, rather than on prevention (as is the case with Frontex); and
  4. Finally, it is crucial for us to support and show solidarity with progressive movements and civil society in the Middle East and across the developing world, without which many of background causes of these conflicts are likely to continue.

Root Cause: Climate Change

The issue of climate change is undoubtedly one of the strong impacts in the phenomenon of global migration. Climate change relates to the overall changes that affect the Earth, provoking deep transformations in the weather conditions due to mainly intense human impact on the environment. These transformations include; the increase in the global temperature of the Earth (i.e. global warming), the rise of sea levels, the scarcity of natural resources in some areas (especially water), the destruction of the ozone layer, over-consumption of natural limited resources and the destruction of ecosystems.

The acceleration of the climate change phenomenon happened after the rapid industrialization started in the 19th century. This period saw levels of: high consumption, pollution of natural resources, of increase in world population (hence leading to a higher necessity of extensive agriculture and increase in consumption goods) and high levels of destruction of eco-systems in order to acquire natural resources. All these have contributed to the climate change process to happen even more rapidly. Should nothing be done to change this course, the tendency of climate changes is bound to happen every time faster.

Climate change is a phenomenon that happens everywhere and to everyone, from human to animals, all over the planet. Statistics show that the 23 richest countries in the world only represent 14% of the world population. However, the same countries produce around 40% of the carbon emissions today and were responsible for 60% of the world’s carbon emission since 1850. In recent years, developing countries have been increasing their percentage of responsibility for carbon emissions, with most developed countries trying to decrease their percentage.

Nonetheless, in terms of most affected countries, the developing countries have been the most affected by the climate change phenomenon, in particular, Central sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia and the Middle East. Climate change has caused scarcity of resources, impossibility of providing means of subsistence to people, threat to entire villages and/or islands due to the rise in sea level, an increase in deaths due to extreme climate (such as very high or very low temperatures) and the destruction of native habitats for indigenous people due to commercial exploration of resources or intensive agriculture. All this pushes people away from their homes due to the fact they cannot live in extreme conditions. In some regions, environmentalists are among the highest class of people persecuted and murdered for their convictions.

The term “environmental refugee” was coined as far back as 1985 and it was reinforced in the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). From 2009 to 2014 approximately 27 million people have been displaced yearly from their homes as a result of natural disasters (such as flooding, mud slides, violent storms or other environmental related causes). By 2060, it is estimated that there would be around 50 million environmental refugees in Africa. Close to 1 billion people all over the world could be permanently displaced due to climate change by 2050.

In order to tackle such an issue, countries all around the world have gathered several times in order to reach a broad agreement on how to tackle this environmental decline. The recent agreement of Paris has very ambitious goals to tackle climate change and was overall seen as a positive solution and a step in the right direction. This compromise is historic, as it has included for the first time the EU, the USA, China and Russia, which are the biggest carbon emission responsible countries in the world. The compromise forces countries to:

  1. A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels;
  2. To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change;
  3. The need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries;
  4. To undertake rapid reductions, thereafter in accordance with the best available science.
  5. To assess and improve these goals every 5 years.

However, the Paris Agreements has also many shortcomings that prevent a real tackle on climate change. There is no mention on limitation of use of fossil fuels, animal farming and food industry. Furthermore, there are no recommendations or indications for environmental protection in Free Trade Agreements, human right on nature, environmental refugees and indigenous rights, poverty and social inequalities, nor even on the means of how to achieve their own goals.

There are many challenges regarding how to address these issues and the difficulties inherent to it. As in many international matters with a global impact, the problem of coerciveness and binding implementation has proven to be of the biggest questions at stake. In order to overcome these shortcomings of the international framework, the following are being proposed:

  1. Set-up an International Treaty of Rights on Nature with a binding International Court for Environment composed of national judges;
  2. Set-up a system of international solidarity with limitation of use of natural resources;
  3. Funding of the environmental transition and the saving of natural land and habitats by global fines on environmental harm and tax evasion; and
  4. Regulation on intellectual property of green technology in order to create equally accessible and shared platforms and instruments for environmental purposes.