Bangladesh Kicks off GFMD Chairmanship

On 21-22 January, the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), led by H.E., Ambassador Shahidul Haque, kicked off the 2016 Chairmanship of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) by organizing different consultations with main stakeholders and organizing a public seminar on migration and development in Dhaka.

Mr. Peter Sutherland, UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for International Migration (SRSG), was guest of honor during a joint Ministerial breakfast meeting on 21 January with Hon. Foreign Minister, Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, M.P., and Hon. Minister for Expatriate’s Welfare & Overseas Employment, Mr. Nurul Islam, BSc. Also present during this meeting were Ambassador Eva Akerman-Borje, GFMD 2013-2014 Chair, Mr. John Bingham, Programme Director of ICMC, coordinating office of the GFMD civil society days, and officials from several donor governments.

Ambassador Haque and the Bangladesh GFMD Team met extensively with the SRSG, the GFMD 2013-2014 Chair and the ICMC to share experiences from previous GFMD meetings and to have informal discussions on the proposed concept paper and work program of the Bangladesh GFMD Chair. 2016. This was followed by a brief interaction with the Bangladesh Civil Society and business.

On 22 January, the MFA, in collaboration with the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), organized a public seminar on “Migration and Development: Challenges and Perspectives” in Dhaka, to kick off the Bangladesh Chairmanship of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in 2016.

Moderated by the Bangladesh Foreign Secretary, Ambassador Shahidul Haque, the seminar gathered some 200 participants from governments, international organizations, civil society and private sector. Eminent persons from the field of migration and development were invited, including Sir Peter Sutherland, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) on International Migration; Mr. John Bingham, Civil Society Coordinator of the GFMD; and Ambassador Eva Akerman Borje, Swedish Chair of the GFMD 2013-2014, to share their perspectives.

During his opening remarks, Ambassador Haque remarked that it is a great honor and responsibility to be the current Chair of the GFMD 2016. This would entail organizing year-long preparatory activities of the Global Forum, in the lead up to the 9th GFMD Summit Meeting to be held in Dhaka on 10 to 12 December. He reminded the attendees of the current challenges faced by migrants and highlighted that migration is an integral component of the progress of civilization.

Mr. Sutherland expressed his gratitude to Bangladesh for taking over the leadership of the Global Forum, and also for advocating for the inclusion of migration in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which has been ratified by 193 countries in September 2015. He remarked that 2016 would be a crucial year for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda; thus, the Global Forum is called upon under the Chairmanship of Bangladesh to ensure that migration-specific and migration-related targets and goals are incorporated in national and regional development planning.

In addition, the SRSG underscored the need for a shared global responsibility and action in addressing the continuing crisis involving forced migrants, particularly the so-called economic migrants and other people on the move who do not classify as refugees or asylum-seekers. He further asserted that Bangladesh as GFMD Chair will give a leveraged position to other Least Developed Countries (LCD) in the migration debate.

Ambassador Akerman-Borje shared about the achievements of the Global Forum under the Swedish GFMD Chairmanship in 2013-2014. She highlighted that the Global Forum has resulted in creating greater trust and understanding between countries of origin, transit and destination. She was proud that Bangladesh and Sweden were two of the main advocates for the inclusion of migration in the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. She believed that the Global Forum could play an important role in strengthening the migration and development links, and improving the governance of international migration under the leadership of Bangladesh.

Speaking on behalf of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), coordinating office of the GFMD Civil Society process since 2011, Mr. Bingham conveyed civil society’s satisfaction with how the Global Forum has evolved, recognized its many achievements, and praised the leadership of Bangladesh on migration-related processes. He welcomed the emphasis on migration and connectivity, as well as on the governance of migration in the proposed GFMD 2016 thematic agenda. On behalf of the civil society, he expressed support for the objectives of the Bangladesh Chairmanship and affirmed civil society’s commitment to push for migration that is decent and based fully on rights and humanity. 

The seminar held at the BIISS Auditorium in the Bangladeshi capital concluded with a speech by Amb. Munshi Faiz Ahmad, Chairman, Board of Governors, BIISS. He stressed the importance of good governance in the context of migration in order to focus mainly on facilitating migration and lifting barriers, while putting in place arrangements and procedures to ensure that migration is orderly and well-managed.

See the full report