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​​Engaging Migrant Communities in Open Government

Involucrando a las comunidades migrantes en el gobierno abierto

Kate Barth|

In the last few decades, we have witnessed enormous increases in migrant flows. In 2020 an estimated 281 million people were living outside of their country of birth, more than twice the number of migrants recorded in 1990. As conflict, global inequality, and climate change push more and more people to flee their homes, this number is only likely to grow. Due to linguistic or cultural barriers and civic exclusion or discrimination, these migrant populations face disproportionate obstacles to accessing information or participating in policy-making. These barriers make it particularly difficult for migrant groups to voice concerns relevant to their well-being.

Open governance is crucial for migrant groups who otherwise face significant hurdles to influencing or evaluating policy that shapes their communities. Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments could increase migrants’ ability to access information and participate in decision-making that affects them. Not only would these commitments encourage governments to serve these marginalized groups better, but they would also promote greater migrant integration into host communities and allow governments to utilize migrants’ rich expertise to craft better-informed policies.

OGP governments have already begun to incorporate migrant-related commitments into their OGP action plans, especially around issues of inclusion, participation, and access to information. Malta, for instance, introduced the “I Belong” initiative to meaningfully integrate migrants into society. This program sought to increase information accessibility to migrants and created the Inter-Ministerial Committee and Forum on Integration Opportunities to encourage greater migrant participation in decision-making. Germany held a “Living Together Hand in Hand—Shaping Local Communities” competition with an eye towards deepening immigrant integration into civic life. Guatemala is currently fostering better migration management through the establishment of a Multisectoral Roundtable for Attention to Migration that will promote participation, intersectoral collaboration, accountability and transparency. Bulgaria committed to publishing open data on migration to facilitate migration data analysis, promote greater stakeholder involvement in migration management, and improve knowledge about the migration process. Greece has committed to opening access to certain information from the Ministry of Immigration Policy.

There are also good examples of meaningful action in engaging migrant communities outside of OGP commitments. Portugal, for instance, has created the Council for Migration, a body partially composed of representatives from migrant communities and migrant-focused civil society organizations that participates in policy-making. Portuguese municipalities are encouraged to create their own local plans for migration integration. In 2020, the African Union inaugurated the African Observatory for Migration and Development, which aims to collect and provide African states with a unified source of data on migration for research, policy formulation and better governance.

The international legal order has also been calling for greater migrant participation in policy-making. In May 2022, United Nations Member States came together for the first ever International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) to discuss migration governance. In the IMRF Progress Declaration, states committed to promote meaningful participation of migrants—especially female migrants—in policy; foster inclusive and cohesive societies by strengthening the provision of information; enhance migrants’ access to information; and integrate migration as a cross-cutting issue in national development plans.

OGP members can join this groundswell of activity by including migrant-related commitments in their national action plans. Such commitments could support:

  • Outreach to and participation of migrants in law and policy-making. OGP members could commit to establishing councils composed of migrant representatives that must be meaningfully consulted during any relevant law or policy-making processes; creating formal channels by which migrant community input is incorporated into policy discussion, formulation, delivery and evaluation; or launching programs that shape service delivery—especially with respect to COVID-19 response and recovery—around migrant priorities.
  • Programs that meaningfully integrate migrants into their host communities. OGP members could commit to encouraging municipal, county, regional, and national level government authorities to draft migrant inclusion plans; creating campaigns and programs that put forth positive narratives about migrant contributions to their host societies; offering incentives to local communities to deepen migrant integration into civic life; or abolishing any laws or policies that prevent non-citizens from creating, leading or joining local organizations, such as trade unions, political parties, or NGOs.
  • Better production, collection, and publication of migration data. OGP members could commit to better collection and analysis of migration-related data through national censuses, additional funding for migrant, or data-collection agencies; better coordination between data collectors; publication of open data on migration from key ministries and agencies; or greater information accessibility to migrant communities through targeted translation, outreach, or community rapporteurs.

By committing to support the inclusion and participation of migrant communities and greater transparency regarding migration data and policy, OGP members can improve the accountability and fairness of policies for migrant communities. OGP governments can bolster the effectiveness of their migration-related programs and policies while underscoring their commitment to OGP’s core values of transparency, participation, and accountability.


Featured Image Caption: Women Migrant Workers in Singapore and Malaysia

Comments (1)

Aliya Reply

How to join Counsel of migration, Communities, Association, Research or policy counseling expert groups.
Thank you

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