Caitlin Dearing Scott
February 8, 2018
In a speech to the 30th African Union Summit delivered by Moroccan Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani last week, King Mohammed VI unveiled the “African Agenda on Migration,” offering the latest details on a new AU vision for migration. Drawn up using an inclusive, participatory approach that included regular consultations with African Heads of State and officials, representatives of international organizations, and civil society experts, the Agenda proposes a paradigm shift toward a “positive redefinition of migration,” and seeks to ensure that migration is “safe, legal and orderly,” and that human rights are respected.
Specifically, the Agenda calls for the establishment of an “African Migration Observatory” based in Morocco to “develop observation and the exchange of information between African countries in order to promote controlled management of migration flows,” and the creation of a post of “AU Special Envoy for Migration,” tasked with “coordinating AU policies in this area.”
In unveiling the Agenda at the AU Summit, King Mohammed VI also sought to influence the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration – a proposed intergovernmental agreement to “present a framework for compressive international cooperation on migrants and human mobility,” among other goals. As host of the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact in December 2018, and a continental pioneer in migration reform, Morocco is well-placed to lead the AU’s efforts on this issue and to ensure that the UN multilateral meetings are a platform for Africa, as promised in the speech.
African leadership on this issue is essential – as pointed out in the speech, “African migration is essentially intra-African… 4 out of 5 African migrants remain in the Continent.” By adopting a positive outlook on migration, it is hoped that host and transit countries will realize the benefits of migration and work together to develop long-term policies to integrate migrants.
The AU took one positive in that regard, adopting the Protocol on the to Treaty Establish the African Economic Community Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Establishment and an accompanying Implementation Roadmap at the Summit. Upon ratification by 15 member states, the protocol will enshrine free movement of people on the continent.
Another protocol or compact won’t fundamentally change migration issue – and even with an implementation roadmap, it won’t come rapidly. But at a time when the West in increasingly closing its doors to migrants, Morocco’s leadership – both ideologically in shifting toward a positive view of migration and practically in proposing humane solutions to its regularization – should be welcomed.