We spoke to Luis Gouveia, MMD Senior Project Coordinator, about the Rabat Process Secretariat’s perspective on the new multi-annual cooperation programme, which will be adopted at the Euro-African Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development in 2018.

1. The reflection and consultation process of the new multi-annual cooperation programme for the Rabat Process is in full swing. How has the Secretariat been supporting this process?

This is a key activity for the Secretariat. There are several steps involved in developing a new programme: firstly, the consultation process to gather views as to what the new programme should look like in terms of priorities. Secondly, transforming these into a concrete action plan and drafting a first plan. This year the Secretariat, along with the new Chairman of the dialogue, Belgium, decided to widen the consultation process. So, in addition to the official partners of the dialogue, we have been exchanging with other stakeholders including civil society organisations, academics and international organisations, to gather recommendations based on their particular perspectives and experiences in migration and development.

How did we do that? Firstly, we selected key actors with specific thematic expertise and invited them to participate in a series of roundtables here in Brussels. Key recommendations and observations resulting from the roundtables were then included in the first drafts of the new programme for the dialogue. Secondly, we consulted also with outside actors during a workshop in Africa. We hope that this will help us to develop concrete actions for the new programme.

The Secretariat has been supporting these processes in various ways: in addition to providing logistical assistance, it has been carrying out research on existing initiatives, developing agendas and guiding questions, liaising and networking with civil society and researchers, and producing outcome documents. For example, the Secretariat analysed the conclusions of Rabat Process Steering Committees and Senior Officials Meetings and thematic meetings, and used these to develop five documents which served as the initial basis for a series of drafting committees for Rabat Process partners.

2. How will the Secretariat ensure that the strategic framework of the Rabat Process stays flexible to integrate newly emerging priorities or changes?

The elaboration process of the programme has not taken place in a vacuum: both the Secretariat, the Chair of the dialogue and its partners are conscious of the need to keep abreast of changes in the global context, and to ensure that the Rabat Process is fully coherent with this. We have indeed taken steps to ensure that our new strategic framework is adapted in order to take into account new realities.  We have been following closely both the implementation of the Valletta Action Plan and the negotiations for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration when drafting our own programme. For example, the programme for the dialogue 2018-2020 will reflect the Valetta framework in that it will comprise not 4 but 5 pillars. It will include additional activities and initiatives to help ensure effective return, readmission and reintegration – all the while ensuring that the needs of African and European partners of the dialogue are adequately represented and taken into account.

3. Do you expect any major novelties in the new cooperation programme?

One novelty will be the inclusion in the new Rabat Process programme of several transversal themes – priorities which cut across all areas of our work. For instance, we need to raise more awareness about the positive dimension of migration, including the benefits of migration for development in countries of origin, but also the benefits of labour migration. Activities will be undertaken (via media engagement and awareness campaigns) to ensure that the positive contributions of migrants are adequately represented and acknowledged, therefore contributing to a more balanced narrative on migration, migrants and diaspora. Partners of the Rabat Process will also be encouraged, under the new programme, to ensure that all of their policies and actions promote the realisation of human rights, and respect for the humane treatment of migrants, regardless of migration status.

As mentioned above, we held very productive roundtables in Brussels, after which the Secretariat developed a consolidated outcome document containing key messages and recommendations for the dialogue partners, and some of these have been included in the draft programme: as an example, many actors emphasised the need for the Rabat Process programme 2018-2020 to further take into account the intra-African dimension. For example, when thinking about remittances we typically think about money, which migrants based in Europe send back home to Africa. However, some of the biggest remittance corridors are actually within Africa itself (for example Burkina Faso - Cote d’Ivoire) and we should work to ensure that the costs of these transactions are reduced. This intra-African dimension also applies to students and researchers who not only wish to move around from Africa to Europe but also within Africa. As such, programmes and projects supporting their mobility should be encouraged and supported by the Rabat Process partners, and further efforts made to ensure harmonisation of standards in higher education curricular.  

Another point which emerged from the roundtables, and which will be incorporated into our new programme, is the importance of focusing on and investing in African youth, as drivers for and agents for change. Other key lesson learnt was that the different causes and consequences of trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling require two sets of technical responses to tackle adequately these different phenomena and to provide relevant and adequate support to victims.

 Luis Gouveia – MMD Senior Project Coordinator