MEISSNER: OK, good afternoon. Thanks to everybody for being here, familiar faces and new ones that we look forward to meeting. This is a discussion today entitled "A New World of Migration: The Development Challenge."
My name is Doris Meissner, and my guests are Peter Sutherland and Bill Swing. Peter Sutherland, you know from the bios, is the U.N. special representative for migration and development, also the chairman of Goldman Sachs International and of the London School of Economics.
And Bill Swing is the director general of IOM, the International Organization for Migration, just has been re-elected to his second five-year term leading the organization -- congratulations -- and comes to it from a distinguished background in the Foreign Service of the United States, having served in many alarming posts.
So we're going to have about 25 minutes of conversation among us, Q&A, and then we're going to open at about 6:30 to the floor for questions. So you need to be starting to think of your questions now, but not without listening to what our guests have to say.
I'm going to begin by noting that the reason that they are in New York this week and that we are here for this discussion is because of the meeting of something called the Global Forum on Migration and Development. The Global Forum on Migration and Development is only the second time that the United Nations General Assembly has focused on issues of international migration. The first was seven years ago, when the forum was created, making that 2006.
Now, just think about that. This is the second such conversation. Just think about that against the backdrop of a couple of really astonishing numbers. There are 232 million international migrants in the world, best that the data can show. Their numbers are growing, probably headed toward 300 million to 400 million in the years ahead. Just the remittances that they send back to their countries are in the range of probably $529 billion in 2012. That's a number that is more than three times the official development assistance that is given worldwide. It is for many countries by far their largest source of foreign exchange, often out-distancing international trade.
So international migration is a profound force. It is as an issue, however, unlike other major issues that are part of our global world, things like trade and flows of capital, because it simply isn't addressed in any systematic way, with a few exceptions, by the international system.
So this global forum is an effort to really overcome that gap and to look at how to make migration work better for the key parties, the migrants themselves, the sending countries, the receiving countries, and lots of others who are actors and players along the way.
So that's what we're going to talk about today. And I'm going to ask questions then that take off from that basic picture...
SUTHERLAND: Easy questions.
MEISSNER: ... and start with an easy question. So the easy question to start with is, let's do a report card to date of the global forum, of your work in these areas, not necessarily of the global forum, but overall of your work -- of your work in these areas through the global forum. What's -- why has it been significant? What do you think have been the major successes? And let me start with you, Peter.
SUTHERLAND: I think the context is an important point to make first. The reason why this came about was essentially because it became apparent that there was no appetite by a significant number of countries to discuss migration, international migration in any forum which was international. And the reason for that was related to perceptions of national sovereignty, concerns about interference, external interference, and the toxicity of the issue itself in many parts of the world.
And, therefore, in 2006, when the germ of this idea really was created, Kofi Annan was very anxious to try and find a way between the multilateralism of a structured institutional set-up to discuss migration and, on the other hand, some form of proper dialogue that would bring about positive results, which had in some way a connectivity with the U.N. itself.
And the global forum came out of that rather difficult political equation. And the idea was to set up a state-led, nonbinding, non-normative process which would bring together countries of origin, destination, and, indeed, transit to discuss together how they could improve the whole process of migration and the interests of migrants and also the communities that they represented. That was the idea. And this informal idea of having a global forum came out of that at the first high-level dialogue and it brought about a moment of peace in what was already a rather fractious debate.
In the intervening period, to rapidly go from then to now, we created a structure which was state-led, which met regularly in Geneva, because most of the agencies dealing with these issues, including the very important IOM, which has played such a positive role in this, were located, UNHCR and so on. And due to the series of meetings during the year basically preparing for five days at the -- at some stage during the year where the global forum met, moving from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere, in effect, year by year, from the rich to the poor.
And the engagement and involvement that this brought about was phenomenal, positive, constructive, and effective, 130-plus countries attending, the senior delegations, five days discussing positive ideas, how to make migration work, starting from the most obvious. I won't go through them all, but things like remittance -- reduction in remittance costs, which have been phenomenal and have brought about an enormous increase in the figures that you've already referred to. In fact, if we can continue doing it, which we think we can, we will in the next couple of years hopefully provide an extra $20 billion to migrants' remittances, which is, as you pointed out, an enormous figure.
So these discussions take place over five days each year. And out of these discussions, bilateral connections, examples taken from one to another have begun to create a very positive environment between countries which, at the original high-level dialogue, simply didn't want to talk to each other. And over 250 specific initiatives have come out of this of various kinds and descriptions, all of which have been considered important and positive.
We had an independent review of how successful or otherwise this was conducted objectively and, indeed, secretly, in terms of responses, and the overall figure for viewing this as being a very positive experience was something like 85 percent. So you have an incredibly positive -- I don't want to say we've transformed the world, but we're beginning to get places. And even on the toxic issue of conventions for human rights conventions, which here particularly in the United States gives rise to enormous, enormous difficulties, again, because of perceptions allegedly of the sovereignty issue, we're making progress, hopefully, at the moment, and it may be a small issue, but the Domestic Workers Convention is rather important.
I mean, there are allegedly 38 women on death row in Saudi Arabia at the moment, and we can't get people to sign up to a convention which if any of you read it now and the recommendation that goes with it explaining what it means, you'd say, how could anyone not sign this? And yet the developed world is not signing up to it, and therefore you still have the problem all over the world. But I'm going off on tangents, but Irishmen are allowed to do that from time to time.
So -- and we're also trying to -- I can't resist reading this, just two things at you, and then I'll stop, because we have a real problem about information society. And this goes to the toxicity issue. And just look at the figures that came out. I saw them last weekend. The German Marshall Fund Transatlantic Trend Survey, I thought some of these figures are amazing.
In the U.S., the public estimates on a proper polling basis that 42 percent of the population is composed of immigrants. The actual figure is 13 percent. The Swedes are closest -- and I'm glad to say that their very estimable team, including minister here this evening, so I can point out that the Swedes, on the other hand, estimate on average that the figure is 18 percent, whereas the real figure is 13 percent.
But that sort of misapprehension gives rise to the sort of political result that we had in Austria last weekend or the rise of neo-Nazi parties of the extreme right in countries in Europe which have been traditionally associated with liberal -- European liberal policies, Dutch, Danes. You can find it now incredibly in Norway.
And we're trying to deal with this through dialogue and communication, rather that finger-wagging, which was the historic way to do it. And that's why I think the global forum, in a word, is a triumph.
We say modestly.
MEISSNER: Bill, what would you add to that? And talk a little bit, if you would, about the IOM perspective, because contrary to what I did -- what I said earlier, IOM, of course, has been an international institution of long standing that has been attempting to address these international migration issues.
SWING: Right, thank you. I wouldn't try to add anything to my Irish friend's comments, because he has the full picture. I would simply perhaps go back a little bit in time and tell you why it is that IOM has unfailingly supported and enthusiastically supported the GFMD from the very beginning and our SRSG, who's doing such a fabulous job in bringing this agenda forward.
I said today at the U.N. that basically what we had was the missing piece in the migration mosaic. I mean, most of the activity in migration is taking place either at a bilateral level, where two countries are talking, or more likely at a regional level.
Now, the remarkable thing is that -- is the late awakening of our world to the fact that there are more people on the move today than at any other time in recorded history. You mentioned the new figure of 232 million. That makes migrants roughly the sixth-largest population group in the world, just slightly less than Indonesia, slightly more than Brazil. The remittances you spoke of is roughly the GDP of Saudi Arabia. So we're talking fairly big numbers here, just to put it in perspective.
Now, this is being driven by -- clearly by a number of elements, the most important probably being demography, because the 20th century is the first time in recorded history that the world's population has quadrupled. It'll never happen again, and, of course, Peter, I won't be around to be proved wrong.
SUTHERLAND: Oh, that...
SWING: But it is a fact. And then you have the digital revolution, you have just the shrinking technology, cheap airfares. You have this unprecedented level of natural and human-made disasters all driving these people. You also have another 750 million who are domestic migrants turning in their own country. I was in China a couple months ago. Their figures are now roughly equivalent to all international migration, 230 million internal migrants inside China.
So we're talking -- but the world has been late to recognize this in a sense, governments particularly. There's not one mention of migration or population displacement in the Millennium Development Goals, which were, of course, in the year 2000. So we're determined this has to come in to the new development goals for 2015.
Now, it's ironic -- there's a kind of a cruel irony here that at a moment when you have all this movement, overwhelmingly positive, by the way, historically, you have sort of a wave, a tide of anti-migrant sentiment, tighter visa regimes, closing borders, building walls, making it very difficult for human mobility to take place. You have free movement of capital goods and services in the WTO, but the question of free movement of people -- and we're not talking about a borderless world -- we simply say strip away the obstacles to legitimate human mobility.
And this is really what we're up against. And this is why I think that the global forum is so vital to what we're doing. It's the one place, the first time ever, where countries can come together and talk about the issue. Now, what is the issue? I would formulate it as -- the issue is, how are you going to conjugate the paradox of national sovereignty and individual freedom? It's what it's all about. There's no magic formula, but that has to be done eventually. You've got to come up with a formula that will allow that to happen in as humane, as responsible a manner as is possible.
I don't want to go -- but I'm just trying to give you a little bit the flavor of why it is that we all feel so strongly that the global forum has been a success. And I'm willing to make a prediction that, out of the high-level dialogue that starts tomorrow, the global forum will go forward. We already have the Swedish chair with us tonight. They're already in the chair. The Turkish chair will take over in 2015, so there's no reason it wouldn't continue.
MEISSNER: What does -- you have this meeting this week. You've done some very persuasive writing about the importance of specific kinds of problems, getting away from the, you know, stratosphere of general terminology, et cetera. What does success look like going forward?
SUTHERLAND: I think that, first of all, we have got to a stage where we have to take on particular projects and have a sufficient degree of focus to deliver even with this rather inchoate organizational structure supported, I should say, very much by the institutional role that IOM is playing. I think IOM is playing a vitally important role in backup and a whole range of different ways.
I think now we have a number of projects which are in our mind's eye a little more than that. We've developed work on it. And, first of all, we're trying to develop a crisis, migrants in crisis development, in terms of having rules or principles that can guide the behavior of countries of origin, destination, and transit, and adjoining states when there's a crisis, like a tsunami. Libya is the catalyst for this, because the appalling disaster of Libya, in terms of the migrant issues that it gave rise to, which IOM played a very significant role in addressing, disclosed a whole range of major problems, both in countries of origin who had failed to keep any record or note of where their migrants were, in failure of the country in peril to have few regard on a non-discriminatory basis in any way for helping people, the keeping open of borders, although admittedly Egypt and Tunisia played a positive role in that, the international community and, indeed, the U.N. community has to work more effectively together than it has in the past.
All of these things can be addressed and are being addressed, we hope, in the coming period by a process which is being led by the United States and the Philippines. The Philippines, incidentally, in my experience is the most progressive country of origin, the most involved and engaged country of origin of any. It makes a real effort to send in teams when a disaster happens, a tsunami or a flooding, in Thailand or whatever. It works at dealing with its own emigrants.
And that example and their leadership is extremely important. I think that -- if I may make one point about the United States. But this whole process started, the most (inaudible) difficult state in terms of the whole process was the United States. The United States at that time -- I remember having a ferocious battle with John Bolton in the U.N. -- everyone will be amazed at that...
But the argument was on this argument about sovereignty. And I said -- I remember at the time that -- one thing I thought I knew a little bit about, having been attorney general in my own country and having argued in Congress when I was in the WTO for the passage of the Uruguay round and by the United States on the old issue of sovereignty, but I couldn't understand why the U.S. could not engage in dialogue in the U.N. on an issue like this because of national sovereignty.
But the U.S. remained apart. And others were similar. Japan was in a similar position. Today, the United States wants to and will lead our initiative on crisis migrants. It will be the country with the Philippines that is providing leadership in this.
A second project is the one that has already been referred to by Bill. Getting the development community in particular to recognize that migration is not a negative issue that you should avoid, it's almost as if with the development community that if you mention migration at all, you're conceding the failure of development, instead of recognizing that all sorts of positives flow from migration. It doesn't mean one is in favor of migration or one wouldn't prefer a situation where it didn't arise. But the positives, apart from the obvious ones, like remittances, but the whole diaspora effect, the engagement.
And in the countries to which migrants go -- and the evidence is absolutely categoric that in the United States the migrant community in terms of innovation have far higher statistics than the indigenous population. They bring, rather than dissipate wealth. They create, but this has to be sold and explained.
And now we have working with us a number of universities, and the MacArthur Foundation has been with us from the very beginning, has been very helpful, who are recognizing this in the United States, and we have a U.S. administration that seems to be willing to take up the cudgels on behalf of the process. I don't know what the question was that I was asked, but in any event, that's the answer.
MEISSNER: Well, that's all right, because I was going to ask you about the United States. But you've answered that, and it's fascinating for this audience and I'm sure for you all, as well, because we know we are totally absorbed domestically, internally with the debate about immigration, and I would say that probably beyond this room very few people would even recognize that the United States is perhaps playing a constructive role in the international arena. So let's hope that that continues on this issue.
I -- let me go to you, Bill, and take another -- a little bit of a different angle at this issue of success and what it looks like in the future, because of IOM's deep experience and very practical role that it plays. Perhaps you could talk a little bit about some of the practical things, as well, that are, you know, explicit that you see coming, and if you would, with that, pulling some of the other players, because we focus on states, we focus on governments. You're made up of member governments. But there are some other very important actors here, principally employers, half of the labor -- half of the migrants in the world are labor migrants, and so the employment issue and labor force is extremely important, as is civil society. Broaden it.
SWING: Well, thank you for that opportunity. No, I mean, it's quite clear that we are still living in a world that views migrants principally through a stereotypical lens. Basically, the stereotypes you know, they're coming to take our jobs, they're probably bringing disease in the country, there's probably a large criminal element among them, and so forth. And we need to begin to address that, because in point of fact, people -- governments often think that when you allow migrants access to social -- public social services that you're doing the migrant a favor.
Well, if you don't give them access to health facilities, you'll have unhealthy migrants. Do you want unhealthy communities? Healthy migrants make healthy communities, for example. So that is one aspect.
I think, first, let me be a little critical of our own organization in the sense of what we learn -- Peter, you mentioned the Libyan crisis. Yes, it's true, with our traditional partner, UNHCR, we were able to evacuate and repatriate nearly 250,000 migrants from Libya to 54 countries at a cost of about $125 million, most of which, unfortunately, the private sector wasn't involved in, because they had already left.
But what did we do? The 177,000 we took back to West Africa, to the ECOWAS area. We got them home safely, and we left. Well, there were no adequate health, school or other facilities to receive them, so what we said to ourselves is, we have to be as an international community much better coordinated and much more cooperative in the future so that if something like this happens, there are others there who take over at that point to assist. So we've got to do it in a much more holistic and with a longer-term view.
We think that, until we get to the point that we have something more of a global governance understanding, which would hopefully flow out of the global forum, we cannot sit idly by. There are other things that we can do. We need to strip away the various obstacles to keeping people from getting to jobs, from skills getting to where they're needed, and from allowing economies to flourish.
For example, we will be launching an initiative next year to try to get at the question of corrupt and illegal recruitment agencies who take people and -- young woman, offer a job in a domestic environment, and they go into a prostitution ring, or a young laborer, a male laborer goes abroad and has to spend the first year of his money repaying the recruitment system.
So we need to get at that. We have -- I think the diaspora is an area where we haven't done enough. We need something more of a high-road scenario that would look at things like multiple-entry visas, portable social benefits, so when you earn your money in one country, you can take it back home if you wish, or to a third country. These are the kinds of things that can be done in the interim, and we're working at it.
Peter's initiative on stranded migrants, you know, we have tens of thousands of stranded migrants. And then beginning to do something in the public information and public education area, I mean, we used to say down home somebody's whistling "Dixie." Well, a lot of countries have their head in the sand. They don't understand that they're going to need tens of millions of workers at all skill levels who simply won't be there because in most of the OECD countries, there's a negative replacement -- more people dying than being born. So where are they coming from? They're coming from the global south.
And they will be people who don't necessarily look like you or speak exactly as you do, but if they're properly welcome, given an opportunity to integrate into society and the economy, they probably will share the same values and can make a major contribution, because they're highly motivated.
Sorry, longer than I wanted to be, but I think these are some of the elements I think that we don't generally talk about, because they're difficult and they don't win votes. I'm not running.
MEISSNER: Well, you know, when one listens to that and against the backdrop of what we're struggling with in the United States, and we're an immigrant nation, it's hard to make that case, and it's particularly hard to make that case when people are feeling pressed and losing ground in their own sense of an economic future.
Peter, do you -- tell us some countries that you -- or not even necessarily some countries. How do you make this case? And do you see countries that are, in fact, grappling with this effectively, given these longer-term trends that Bill has just laid out?
SWING: Well, in countries of destination, I think that there are some, and I think the figures actually prove the point, in terms of the acceptability of migrants in some European countries, to take Europe as an example. I don't say it because the minister is here. I think Sweden, who have been the firmest supporters of this whole process from the beginning, have rather better results in terms of attitudinal surveys and so on than elsewhere.
I think that a country that, to my mind, in many ways is one of the best is Germany. Germany has a huge demographic problem, and no doubt that has played an influence in it, but also the actual figures, in terms -- there was 1 million migrants came into Germany last year, and yet the positivism reflected in public opinion in Germany towards migration, country to historic stereotypes and attitudes that one might expect, has been remarkably positive, and maybe the appalling tragedies and history of the past has brought about an attitudinal response, which is so positive and constructive today, but I think Germany is also another example.
I think notwithstanding -- notwithstanding appalling economic trauma that Spain has a remarkable record of attempted integration. Now, admittedly, a lot of -- like many of these cases, there are distortions, because many of the immigrants into a difficult, high-unemployment, notoriously high-unemployment environment in Spain are coming from Latin America, so it's -- it doesn't give rise to quite the same difficulties, but also many of them come from North Africa, and as any Spaniard would say, the Spanish are very conscious of 800 years before, as they see it, the end of North African occupation of southern Spain took place, so they're allowing historic images and so on that have been accommodated by, I think, a great deal of real action and positivism in those countries. They're just examples, but I'm sure that there are many others, and I'm focusing just on Europe.
And attitudes are reflected, again, in the figures that I could give you from the German Marshall Plan -- Marshall aid, Marshall Plan survey, which reflects very, very different responses in contiguous countries in the European Union, and that doesn't happen by accident. It happens because there are policies, policies for integration, policies for education, policies that avoid ghettoization, that create an environment where both the migrants are happy and the indigenous population are happy.
Over 58 percent I think in Germany expressed very positive views about migration. Now, maybe they're conscious of the demographic challenges which they're facing and the need for more young people, and maybe they've been convinced by the logical economic arguments why migration generally, as I said earlier, is very positive for an economy, rather than negative, but on the other hand, in the United Kingdom today, you see the emergence and in France, with Le Pen, UKIP in the United Kingdom, which is skewing public debate, and we will see in the elections for the European Parliament in May, as we saw last weekend in Austria, a rising, belligerent, and basically racist vote which can be very, very dangerous to the cohesion of the society.
How can that be avoided? It can only be avoided by proactive responses to migration, rather than simply trying to keep the subject off the agenda, which often is the case, or to deny that it is happening. And then one is into all of the arguments about multiculturalism and recognizing the importance of multiculturalism in a society.
So dialogue is the only possible answer to this. And informed dialogue above all is absolutely necessary.
MEISSNER: OK. It's time to turn to the audience. Raise your hand, and we'll get a microphone to you. Over here in the front? And could you tell us your name and affiliation?
QUESTION: Yes, I'm Marlene Sanders, formerly CBS News. We hear a lot about France and the problems they are having with their immigrants from various Arab countries, who -- they stay together, apparently are refusing to learn French, are not integrating into the society, and they've created a lot of hostility in the population, and you mentioned earlier these fascist eruptions in certain countries. So how can you do anything about groups like, who just want to stick together and not integrate?
SUTHERLAND: How can one do anything about it? I think that it -- I think it's -- first of all, I think it is not a one-sided argument. And perhaps I've given a reflection of a rather simplistic analysis, which appears to be a liberal approach to immigration that doesn't take account of some basic criteria that also have to be applied to the migrants in terms of their obligations to accommodate to the society into which they go.
And for an example, I do not believe that it is correct in the context of multiculturalism to allow a migrant community to operate on the basis of rules of behavior which offend the country of destination's belief in basic human rights. And I'm talking here about equality between men and women for an example. And I do not believe that one can therefore argue that the right of a migrant in a society to which they go is a right to live by the norms of the standards of their own country, if they do not correspond to and comply with the perception of the rights of the individual and the dignity of the individual of the society to which they go. And I'm talking here basically about the northern -- of the European or North American concept of what those rights are.
But it's not just that. It's a concept which is in the universal declaration of human rights itself. So I think that there are stages and rules which have to be applied. It then becomes a question of balance in regard to the burqa or whether you allowed somebody to wear -- a Sikh is allowed to wear something on his head and so on. And I think therefore, that -- to get into that, it's a matter of common sense. But -- and it's going to lead to conflict. There's no point in pretending that it won't. There will be people who will not accept rules of a kind that preclude somebody in sensitive situations from wearing a mask across their face, which denies one the opportunity of identifying who they are.
Now, I think at the end of the day the rule of the country of destination has to apply, sensibly applied. I think it has to be enforced. And I think, therefore, that there have to be rules which accommodate to a degree of multiculturalism which makes common sense and one which precludes other activities.
I don't know how one answers -- the French problem has been aggravated by extreme action on the country's side, as well. I mean, the Le Pen point of view and the ghettoization which has occurred in France and which is obvious in the suburbs of Paris is the result of a failure, also, in having proper policies for integration.
And I think it is something that would be well known in this country in a different context, not necessarily of immigrants, but you can also feel in society sometimes in the United States that ghettoization is a real issue. So it's a complicated way to -- I haven't answered it properly, because there's no simple answer, I don't think.
MEISSNER: I saw another hand up there, and then we'll go over here. Yes?
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Nisha Varia. I'm from Human Rights Watch. Thank you both for being here. I wanted to -- I've been an observer and engaged with the process since the beginning. And I think one of the great challenges and weaknesses is the fact that it is nonbinding and non-normative and what that has meant for human rights.
You know, I think it's been easier to tackle some of the more non-controversial issues, such as remittances, which everyone can see a benefit to, but much more difficult to really tackle human rights issues, such as deportation, very punitive detention practices of migrants, where they may be detained for months or years at a time, or really the ways that labor and immigration policies are very lopsided, which contributes to a lot of the exploitation of low-skilled migrants in particular.
So I wanted to ask you, you know, what hope do you see for this -- you know, it has been useful to get governments together and finally start talking about these issues, but what hope do you see for there to actually be more accountability involved, something that would be more binding?
You know, Peter, I appreciate your mentioning the Domestic Workers Convention, because I think it's a really great example. It was just adopted two years ago. We've already seen it lead to legislative changes in 30 countries. It's a great example of a binding instrument making concrete changes on the ground.
MEISSNER: Bill, why don't you take that? Because you've dealt with so many practical issues like this.
SWING: I want to make sure you don't think this is a subjective comment coming, but I think that there is, indeed, a long way to go, but I think, Peter, we can say that under their global forum, since the second meeting in Manila in 2008, the first one I attended after taking this job, we have had a very open, frank, and honest conversation about human rights of migrants. And I think some progress has been made.
It's a sensitization process. It's going to be very slow. But I think we're pleased at least that it no longer is a sensitive issue that country of origin and destination will not talk about. The Swiss chair, under their '14 special sessions that they held, there was a lot of discussion on human rights. I think we've got to keep it before them.
And I think you partly do it by recognizing that there is a link between the protection of the human rights of the migrant and development. You're not going to get development if the human rights of the migrant are violated. So I think the conversation is engaged now. But it'll be a long way to go. But -- and I think the global forum is the way to do it.
Now, let me -- let me mention that a lot of action is still happening at the regional level. We have about 16 regional dialogues, formal dialogues that are going on around the world, and human rights I can assure you. When you go the Puebla process, Central America, Mexico, and North America, you can be sure that human rights will be on the agenda. Gauchas, Pocas (ph), make sure that we're not asleep on the watch.
SUTHERLAND: Well, could I make a point -- comment on that, too?
SUTHERLAND: I think that what Bill has said needs to be emphasized. The human rights community, which I greatly respect, sometimes -- and you're not saying this -- but sometimes gives the impression that we should be talking about nothing but human rights.
If we didn't bring the issue slowly and effectively into a process of dialogue, there would be no global forum. It would never have started, because the countries of destination, in general the OECD countries, simply didn't want to have the finger pointed at them. In fact, on the human rights end, the countries of origin are at least as big sinners, probably much greater sinners, and equally themselves don't want to have conventions.
The conventions -- the Domestic Workers Convention -- there are 50 million to 100 million domestic workers who are living in other countries. Nobody knows the actual number. The reason why we're focusing particularly on that, or at least I am, if I'm to be totally honest, is that it's a stalking horse apart from having its own justification, because of the merits of the arguments about domestic workers who are notoriously abused, because it's behind closed doors.
But it's also a stalking horse for the principle that conventions can be and should be adopted. I said today to the discussion group of countries that -- large number of countries that were there -- I said to them, can any of you give us -- give me an argument why anything in this convention, which is self-evidently correct, should stop you from ratifying this convention? And if you do ratify the convention, we'll break a logjam of principle which apparently exists. We can't have conventions -- we can't sign conventions in some way -- it's something unacceptable.
Now, we already have in Europe the Germans and the Italians. They've both signed up. This is the breakthrough, I think, which can move forward, and then you can look at other conventions and so on. Gregory Maniatis who works with me on this has been talking to a lot of countries, and we're getting somewhere with it. I think we're beginning to get some progress. So I think it can work.
MEISSNER: Over here, right in the middle, the gentleman.
QUESTION: Hi, I'm Koyan Kahn (ph), formerly with the World Bank and now with EL (ph). First of all, I wanted to commend the wonderful work that the three of you have been doing for a long time in this field and making a case for migration for humanitarian, as well as economic reasons.
My fear that you're basically preaching to the choir, as they say. And the shutdown of the U.S. federal government is a proof, I think, that sometimes common sense doesn't prevail. And a small minority can really stifle what seems to be eminently self-evident, to use Ambassador Sutherland's words, because a small group in terms of immigration, migration, can stifle this. And you see this on national scenery, whether it's the United States or now even Norway, is going sort of anti-immigration route.
So the question is, all the -- and I've been at the World Bank for a long time, so I know about this multinational, state-to-state dialogues that we have, but how do you get to the communities who are the voters who vote in these people who are the national legislator who can stifle all these efforts?
So how do you go from eminent common sense to votes to action? Thank you.
SWING: If I might just maybe just, Peter, just take a quick hack at that, you may remember, when I spoke first this evening, I mentioned that, when people ask me what's the biggest challenge you face, I generally come up with the same answer, is exactly what you're questioning. How do you mount a political information, political education campaign that doesn't -- at the grassroots level that will help people understand how migration can be in their own personal interest?
Now, what's driving the anti-migrant sentiment? Global financial economic crisis to start with. I would say the post-9/11 security syndrome. I would say the fear of loss of personal or national identity. But these are all basically not very good -- not very good reasons to turn in that direction.
We will -- and I'm not making advertisements for our organization, but we will be mounting a major campaign, following high-level dialogue, on trying to get that public information campaign started so that we can -- we can understand from history and our contemporary elements of influence why it is that migration -- large-scale migration is inevitable, given the demographic figures I gave you and other driving forces, the digital revolution, where you have -- one-third of the world is now connected to the Internet. If Mark Zuckerberg gets his way, I suppose it'll be 7 billion soon. But, I mean, people are talking about this. So it's inevitable for that reason.
Secondly, it's going to be necessary, if those jobs are going to be filled in the developed world, because there won't be enough people otherwise who are around.
And finally, it's going to be highly desirable if we go about it with the right policies that allows mobility to take place in a humane and responsible manner. Now, but you've got to get down -- and you're correctly suggesting -- to the local community, because -- you've got to give them the -- you've got to give them and you have to give the parliamentarians the reasons to support liberal migration policies.
SUTHERLAND: The other point, if I may, about that is -- and I see the author of the great Doyle Report here with us, who really instigated a lot of the thinking that we're putting into today's developments, but nationalism, to my mind, in the end of the day, as George Orwell, I think, put it, is basically the belief that you're better than somebody else. Nationalism has been the curse that has destroyed the continent from which I come and, indeed, the island from which I come from time to time through history. And nationalism is something that can only be addressed in an increasingly interdependent world by rational leadership and humane leadership by national political figures.
What we're doing can't solve this. We can try to assist in putting information out there. We can try to assist in creating the structures of interdependence that can work. But many people believe in different kinds of interdependence being interlinked. I am one of them. I see Jagdish Bhagwati in the back here. He's another.
It's just like trade. It's like movement of people, all of which is something to do with interdependence and taming nationalism, and taming nationalism is -- is ultimately the best way of dealing with attitudinal change, but that's such a vast subject that one could spend days talking about.
MEISSNER: OK, I saw a hand down here right in the second row, and then we'll go over here.
QUESTION: My name's Nick Wasinski (ph), and I'm from the graduate center at CUNY. My question is about how the forum can build a global migrant identity, when actually integration actually leads to a loss of that identity. We used to talk in the migration sector in the U.K. that a successful integrated migrant was actually someone who didn't identify as a migrant anymore.
So how -- how can we have this discussion on the global scale and form a movement around this migrant identity, when actually people don't want to identify as that?
MEISSNER: Peter, you talked about integration. You can elaborate.
SUTHERLAND: I think -- well, I think for an example, take one example, Jewish citizenship and the attitude in various countries to allowing Jews citizenship and denying the possibility of Jewish citizenship. I think that that is wrong.
I think it should be quite possible for somebody to have two passports or two senses of their own identity. And many countries do allow that, so I don't think we're talking about a process of homogenization when a migrant comes into a community. They should be proud of their identity. And, in fact, I would have thought that the United States is a great example of this. All of the communities that at least one appears to recognize in the United States are quite proud of their origin. They describe themselves in terms of their origin. And that is part of the migrant community that has created the United States.
So I don't see why there should be a forced homogenization, which is what some countries seek to do. And I think that -- I think I may be right in saying that the U.S. is a bit difficult about dual nationality.
MEISSNER: Well, we're no longer difficult about it. We simply ignore it.
But it is not -- it is not, you know, permissible. However, there is no -- there is no penalty for...
SWING: I just want to add that what Peter's saying, I very much agree with that. I think another example is Canada. Canada is very proud and actually openly talks about its multicultural policy and very happy that people identify with a particular cultural group. And the whole idea of our diaspora conference in Geneva in June was to get across the idea that people can live in -- you see, we've got, I think, an out-of-date idea, migration movement from A to B. That's not migration today. We're talking about human mobility, moving A to B, maybe to C, back to B, maybe to A. Maybe we keep a foot in several camps.
I won't use my own family as an example, living on four continents, but that's becoming more the -- more the norm than the exception. So I think if we look at -- and, again, Peter, this is part of the high-road scenario, multiple entry visas, dual nationality, portable social security systems, decriminalization of irregular migrants, all of these things that have to happen, but we've got to get the word out so that people understand migration today in a somewhat larger sense of human mobility.
MEISSNER: There was -- in the back?
QUESTION: Thanks. I'm Rafael Marco Ruiz (ph). I'm a journalist from Argentina. All the issues that you're talking about are part of the debate on immigration reform here in the United States. My question is, how likely do you think that political leadership and dialogue can move forward that debate to actually implement immigration reform? And in case that happens, is it feasible to think that the core concept -- the immigration reform, which is that there has to be like a tough path to citizenship? Can that become a global model for other countries to copy for the global forum?
SWING: Peter, that's for you.
I'm the American on the panel.
MEISSNER: We now -- we now have to go to the American. Go ahead, Bill.
SWING: I think as part of the high-road scenario, there has to be some element of a high-road policy that allows some hope that one can achieve some form of regular status, without defining it further than that right now.
And we are generally trying to also propose that in those cases where there's a failed asylum seeker, someone who's fallen on hard times, or the due process comes to an end and there's no way to make the person a permanent resident, that there be a process whereby if the person does return, they can be allowed to return in dignity, not deportation, dignity, voluntary return, no negative stamp in the passport, an ability to start life again back home, if that is the end result.
But it's far too complicated the debate now to know where I would go with it.
MEISSNER: The gentleman -- OK, right here.
QUESTION: Hi, I'm Kabir Siegel (ph) with JPMorgan. I'm familiar with that immigrants are going from southern countries to northern countries, but I was wondering if there's any initiatives from southern companies to entice, say, retirees from developed countries to come to their countries?
SWING: We have just -- sorry, Peter.
SUTHERLAND: No, no, please.
MEISSNER: No (inaudible)
SWING: IOM has been -- since 2000 has been publishing a flagship publication called World Migration Report. In fact, some of the figures that you were reading on the -- we did a report in 2011 that basically showed that people grossly overestimated how many migrants are in their country. The latest one is called migrant well-being and development, and it's the first study that we know of that looks at all of the quadrants of migration. And part of our prejudice on migration is reflected in the fact that most of the studies we have today and most of the concepts of migration is that it's south-north. During the Libyan crisis, a lot of the press in Europe was...
QUESTION: ... really draw the line between the two. And very much related to it is the issue of language...
QUESTION: ... and whether or not you believe there ought to be an official language within a country or whether or not, such as we're doing in the United States, you should make it very easy for people to participate in all aspects of the society independent of the language that they're speaking.
SWING: I think language is obviously important. Different countries decide to do it differently. The U.S. has basically chosen initially to have a single language, English. That's still, I think, the case in terms of moving ahead up the -- up the chain, making progress. But other countries have -- I don't think there's a magical formula for it.
I think the key thing is that the -- that the government make available as much as possible a chance to become part of the society and the economy, even if you choose to live in your own cultural group, but it'll allow you to move forward. I think that not enough has generally been done in that area in many countries. Not enough has been done to make -- give people an opportunity to integrate, but very often, the language is the -- is the pathway to moving ahead. And some countries have two languages. Some countries, as I see here tonight, have four or five.
But the key thing is that whatever it is it takes to move ahead, the language or whatever, one needs to give the facility to people. This is why we do cultural orientation and language training around the world. Most of the 70,000 refugees that IOM has brought in to the United States in this fiscal year, just ended two days ago, were given some form of cultural orientation or language training, in addition to health examinations and vaccinations.
So we have to try to facilitate people's feeling at home when they arrive. It goes back a little bit to the good question on France that we started with.
MEISSNER: Last question, on the aisle.
QUESTION: Thank you. I am Tobias Billstrom, and I am the minister of migration and asylum policy in Sweden, and I also have the honor of being the chair of the GFMD.
Well, the big debate on migration very often seems to revolve on -- bring us back to old trenches, north-south, rich-poor, developed and underdeveloped. But in my mind, there is a clear need to recognize that such a paradox really doesn't work anymore, it doesn't reflect the reality anymore.
And what I would like to ask you is that, though the GFMD may hold the key to bringing the stakeholders together for a good debate on things of both factions, then what? What should, in your mind, be the next logical step? Are we at a true crossroads between the normative institutional debate or are we looking for something else? This is something where I would like to see elaborate a bit. Thank you.
MEISSNER: That's a huge question, but you get only a short topic sentence answer.
SUTHERLAND: Well, I won't -- I won't take more than 20 minutes.
The answer -- the answer to that question, to my mind -- and I'm going to be very indiscreet in what I'm -- what I'm about to say -- I think we have an institutional issue. I've always believed, particularly in international matters, in institutions. Things don't happen without institutions. And I think that we have a degree of disparate analysis and different types of organizations within the U.N., none of which is exclusively focused on migration.
I would like to see IOM becoming part of the U.N. family, however tangential that relationship may be. Being part of the -- of the U.N. I think could create an institution -- it's already an institution that is key to the future of migration. The only thing that in my view might further enhance it a little bit, not that it needs enhancement, is to be part of the institutional fabric that is provided by the U.N. And I would have thought that that could be accommodated in a way which did not entail all of the bureaucratic restrictions and mechanisms that are applicable in some aspects of U.N. activity, which is off-putting for many people.
In fact, in my dying days in the WTO, just after its creation, I did everything possible to keep the WTO out of the U.N. But I think that there are elements of U.N. engagement, types of U.N. engagement which could accommodate to the creation of a connectivity which would work, the World Bank as an example. So I think that the development of an institutional response -- and that's one, there may be others -- way that that institutional development could take place, but that, of course, is for the membership of IOM to consider. Perhaps there are other aspects to relationships between IOM and other U.N. organizations with a similar or close remit, which have been discussed in the past, UNHCR and how UNHCR links into or how the connectivity can exist.
This is a very difficult issue. But I think we have to move on at some stage from where we are institutionally to something which is more coherent and inclusive. And IOM, to my mind, is an absolutely essential element in the solution, particularly, if I may say so, without flattery, if the leadership is of the caliber of the current leader of IOM -- and I'm sure it will be for another 20 or 30 years, so I don't have to worry about it.
MEISSNER: Bill, you might want to quit while you're ahead, but you're not allowed. You get a final answer to that.
SUTHERLAND: My lips are sealed.
MEISSNER: Would you like to answer that question?
But I will have...
MEISSNER: This is a crowd that knows, so it's OK.
SWING: I will have a side conversation with the minister, I hope.
MEISSNER: Exactly. Exactly. OK. Thank you all very much for your attention.
SWING: Thank you. You're very kind, Peter. Thank you very much.
SUTHERLAND: Thank you very much.