Civil society, international organisations, members of the diaspora and academics have all had a crucial role in the efforts to craft a new Rabat Process Declaration and Action Plan for 2018-2020. Their inputs have helped to enrich the drafting process: consultations in Brussels and Dakar clearly echoed the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to migration matters and the importance of local authorities.

This past year has been instrumental in shaping the Rabat Process for the years to come, as a new Declaration and Action Plan are currently in the making. European and African civil society, international organisations, members of the diaspora and academics were given with the opportunity to join the consultation process for the first time, which included several activities in both Europe and Africa: four thematic roundtables in Brussels in April and a workshop with civil society in Dakar in July.

Filling the gaps

Adding an external view to the programme, experts were asked to study the current strategic framework for the dialogue (the Rome Programme) and to identify important gaps to be filled. This process helped to shape the focus and priorities of the new programme, and the product of this consultation process was a comprehensive list of recommendations, enabling us to address some of these gaps in the new programme. In parallel to this informal consultation process, a series of official drafting committees with representatives of European and African countries, EU and ECOWAS were held, as well as Steering Committee meetings focusing on strategic questions related to the future programme. One of the important questions under consideration was how to ensure that the new programme is fully in line with the Joint Valetta Action Plan, and how best to optimise the Rabat Process’ specific role and mandate.

Giving civil society a seat at the table

External actors added vital findings and perceptions to the first draft of the new action plan: the importance of taking a multi-stakeholder approach to migration matters, the necessity to include local authorities in migration management and the role of the media in informing the general public on migration matters and ensuring that reports highlight the positive contribution of refugees and migrants to development. Especially with regards to the last recommendation, suggestions aligned with the Rabat Process Chair’s aim of promoting a balanced narrative on migration and diasporas,based on factual evidence.

Aligning the Dialogue’s activities with the Joint Valletta Action Plan

Improving the content also implied serious thinking on how best Rabat Process could fit into the global migration framework, and in particular on how the new programme could ensure coherence with the Valletta framework. This is reflected in the choice of objectives and actions, which were chosen as they reflect the specific nature and added value of the Rabat Process (compared to existing instruments). Indeed, the actions chosen aim to build upon the dialogue’s nature and strengths, as a regional platform with over 10 years’ of experience in the establishment of networks for the exchange of good practices. In addition, in order to ensure coherence with the Valletta framework, the new Rabat Process Political Declaration and Action Plan will comprise 5 domains focused on the same priorities as the JVAP, using the same domain names as the latter.

Next steps

The “zero draft” of the new Political Declaration and Action Plan was met with a broad consensus by partners at our Senior Officials’ Meeting in Accra in October. After fine-tuning the Political Declaration and Action Plan, a final version was shared with our partner countries and organisations to seek their approval. Subsequently, the text will be presented at the Fifth Euro-African Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development due to take place in spring 2018. We take this opportunity to warmly thank the Kingdom of Morocco for accepting to host the Ministerial Conference. This will be a key moment for the Rabat Process to renew its partnership after a decade, by validating at Ministerial level the Political Declaration and Action Plan be adopted at the guiding document for the dialogue for the next three years to come.