Thematic Peer-to-peer Meeting on Access to Basic Services and Human Rights

The member cities of the Mediterranean City to City Migration (MC2CM) project were welcomed by the city of Tangier on 26 and 28 November to participate in the third thematic peer-to-peer meeting on access to basic services and the enjoyment of human rights.

The Mayor of Tangier, Bachir Abdellaoui, opened the meeting by welcoming all the attendees and reaffirming, firstly, the involvement of his city in the project and, secondly, the relevance of the theme as Tangier had all these characteristics: it is an international city, an internal and Sub-Saharan migration host city and a transit city given its proximity to the European coasts.

Over the course of the two days, representatives of the city of Vienna presented an enriching experience on hosting migrants and granting them basic rights, using a rights-based approach. This presentation provided the opportunity to conduct a group exercise, to encourage attendees to think together about their approach to working with migrant populations, defining and taking into account their needs, and meeting those needs by providing concrete solutions through multi-stakeholder and multi-level partnerships. 

The representative of the city of Amman focused on the integration of refugees through the granting of work permits, which facilitate their socio-economic integration. He also stressed the impact of migration on resources (water, energy), infrastructure (housing, schools, health centres) and services (waste management, sanitation), and presented national and local measures implemented to reduce these impacts. 

To conclude, UN-Habitat presented some experiences on migrant populations' access to water and sanitation as basic services, and also put forward a rights-based approach.

The Catalan Fund, alongside UCLG, held an interactive session on the challenges that cities face in providing a minimum service to ensure social cohesion and the rights of migrant populations. The exercise helped to produce a common definition of basic services, to identify difficulties encountered in providing them, to showcase actions implemented and to list initiatives which could be developed to fill existing gaps.  

Vienna will host the next meeting on the reception of refugees on 14 and 15 February 2017.

The Mid-term conference of the "Mediterranean City to City Migration project" was held immediately after the thematic peer-to-peer meeting. The partners – ICMPD, UN-Habitat and UCLG – wanted to take stock of the activities carried out under the project, which was launched a year and a half ago, with the member cities and build a new narrative on migration, which must be approached in terms of urban development opportunities and not as an obstacle to development and social cohesion. 

Through the Catalan Fund and the Working Group on Migration and Co-development, UCLG repeated its political message, which focuses on the important role of local and regional Governments in migration governance at local level, as they have primary responsibility for providing urban services to all citizens, particularly the most vulnerable, such as migrants, and they also ensure social and cultural cohesion in their territories.

The speeches during the conference included a contribution from the European Union, through its representative in Morocco, which expressed its complete satisfaction with how the project had been evolving and implemented. It opened the door to financial support from the European Commission for a second project phase. In addition, the participation of civil society, particularly representatives of migrant associations, in the discussions helped to strengthen dialogue and to create a more favourable atmosphere for dialogue with local authorities and, in particular, Tangier.

To conclude, Tangier presented the main areas of work for the pilot project that it wishes to implement with UCLG within the framework of the MC2CM project to support the inclusion of migrants. The approach seeks to involve civil society, raise citizens' awareness, train municipal officials in interculturalism and create spaces for dialogue with these stakeholders, including migrants, with a view to making a joint contribution to the inclusion of migrants and guaranteeing their human rights. 

The conference conclusions were shared the following day in the framework of the Forum of Local and Regional Authorities of the Mediterranean, which was held by UCLG's Mediterranean Commission in Tangier on "Territorial Diplomacy".                                            

In this forum, the elected officials present recalled the importance of changing the narrative on migration and of joining up the efforts of all stakeholders, the State, communities and civil society in order to advance towards intercultural and inclusive societies, by placing the rights-based approach at the centre of the vision once again. Furthermore, the importance of territorial diplomacy was also emphasised, as a means of supporting the development of less well-off countries with the aim of making "Non-Mobility" a right with the same status as "Mobility". In other terms, migration must become a choice and not an economic, political or even climatic obligation. À cette occasion, les élus présents ont rappelé l’importance de changer la narrative autour de la migration et de joindre les efforts de l’ensemble des acteurs, État, collectivités et société civile pour avancer vers des sociétés interculturelles et inclusives, mettant là encore l’approche par les droits au centre de la vision. De plus, il a été souligné l’importance de la diplomatie territoriale pour accompagner le développement des pays les moins bien lotis afin de faire de la « Non Mobilité » un droit au même titre que la « Mobilité ». En d’autres termes les migrations doivent devenir un choix et non une obligation économique, politique ou encore climatique.

For further information on the project, please contact Lamine Abbad at the UCLG World Secretariat  l.abbad@uclg.org