Box 1

Open letter to the Global Forum on Migration and Development

To civil society;
To multilateral institutions;
And to the migrant and refugee movements:

The Nyeleni Collective, promoting food sovereignty as an alternative to slow down the current migration debacle, takes up with great hope the initiatives coming from civil society and the proposals by multilateral institutions to find a way out of the current situation that will, in principle, guarantee human integrity and the full rights of migrants and refugees. In this regards we express our concerns over the course taken by the process of the Global Compact for Migration, to be formalized in Morocco on 10 and 11 December. We also take this opportunity to present our position with regards to this process, and bring forward our own proposals.

We are concerned that the Global Compact for Migration has turned away from the crucial aspect of the human rights of migrants and refugees. Indeed, the Compact does mention some of the features of the migration crisis, using euphemisms such as “the needs of migrants in a situation of vulnerability” and “the respect, protection and enjoyment of human rights by all migrants”, but at the same time it uses expressions such as “promoting security and prosperity in our communities”; this means respecting rights but with domestic security and the economy first.

This is extremely serious, especially at this time, when the migrations crisis has become a tragedy never seen in present history. The families torn apart on the border between Mexico and the USA, and the confinement of migrant children in concentration camps in Texas, as well as the countless number of deaths among refugees, especially children, women and elderly people who drown in the Mediterranean; the violent racist and fascist attacks in the main cities of this world and the many anti-migrant actions around the world are pushing civilization to levels of dehumanization and barbarity that draw us back to the darkest periods of our most recent past.

On the contrary, as contained in the title of the Compact itself, “For Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration”, the approach of the states is one of convenience, to favour capital. In other words, it is the opportunity for states, especially the more powerful ones, to generate cheap and tame labour to accumulate wealth and capital. Just as the system loaded the burden of the 2008 financial crisis onto the migrants, now it is attempting to turn the tragedy of migration into an opportunity to increase profitability for the richest in this world.

It is also of great concern to see the difference in how migrants and refugees are treated, hiding away that chucking migrants out of their land for economic reasons or climatic disasters and that of migrants due to occupation wars and plundering all obey the same structural causes of the system. All the forces responsible for migration are ignores, or the exodus caused by whatever reason, and these are the ones deserving full attention to confront the structural causes.

Finally, not only do we express our concerns, but we are also willing to come up with proposals to find a way out of the drama of migration.
One of such proposals is to step up our fight for food sovereignty so that people are not forced to abandon their villages to feed and ensure the survival of their families. This of course requires fighting for a charter on the rights of peasants and public, popular agrarian policy reforms by the state. At the same time, this requires halting the grabbing of and speculation with the lands and natural resources of the peoples, and especially ending the wars to occupy territories.

We have further proposals that we wish to share with civil society and multilateral institutions, and we will do this for sure.

La Via Campesina will be present in Morocco in December, for the formalization of the Global Compact for Migration, to make public all these concerns and share our proposals. The delegation will be lead by our sisters and brothers from the MENA Region (Middle East and North Africa) and an international delegation from our regions, led by our sister organization FNSA (Fédération Nationale du Secteur Agricole).

We hope to carry our message to everyone wanting to listen to us and those concerned by the Global Compact for Migration and more interested in a global pact for solidarity in light of the migration debacle caused by capital.

Box 2

The Manden Charter

The United Nations Member States are preparing to vote on the Declaration on Peasants Rights and other people working in Rural Areas in September in New York. Yet one of the first declarations of fundamental rights was the Manden Charter, proclaimed by the Malinke hunters in 1222 in Mali. The Declaration acted as a constitution, but its scope was universal, as it was addressed to the whole world. It guaranteed the respect for human life and equality, the abolition of slavery and the end of hunger! The Manden Charter was listed in 2009 as part of the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Immaterial Heritage of Humanity. Here are some extracts:

The Manden was grounded in understanding and love, freedom and fraternity. This means that no racial or ethic discrimination can exist under Manden. This was the meaning of our struggles.
Article 1 – The hunters declare: All human life is a life. It is indeed true that life appears as the existence of another life. But no one life is “older” than another. And likewise, no life is superior to any other.
Article 5 – The hunters declare: hunger is not a good thing. Nor is slavery. There is no greater calamity than these in this world on earth. As long as we possess quivers and a bow, hunger shall kill nobody in Manden, if perchance there were to be a famine. Nor shall war ever destroy a village in Manden to take its slaves hostage.
Article 7 – Man as an individual survives on food and drink. But his “soul” and his spirit thrives on three things: Seeing what he wishes o see, saying what he wants to say, and doing what he desires to do. Therefore the hunters declare: All humans have rights over their person, and are free to act; this is the oath of Manden to the ears of the entire world.