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UNECA says movement of people critical to AfCFTA’s success

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The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has said Africa should focus more on the movement of people within the region for the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).

Ms. Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director, Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, UNECA said this on Tuesday during the media conference on the Africa Regional Review of the Implementation of the Global Compact For Migration being hosted by the Kingdom of Morocco in Rabat.

Ruzvidzo said the aim of the regional review of the GCM was to help Africa in migration data collection and assist in the implementation of the continent’s integration.

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“This year’s leading role in the the GCM review and its other related initiatives all aim to help Africa retain skills, improve migration data collection and assist in the implementation of the continent’s integration through facilitating portability of skills and qualifications as well as trade through the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).

“The AfCFTA cannot succeed if we do not look at the movement of people.

“We cannot only look at the movement of goods and services without looking at the movement of people.

“Therefore, the Global Compact for Safe and Orderly Migration (GCM) is critical if the AfCFTA is to succeed,” she said.

According to Wikipedia, the GCM is an intergovernmental negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, that describes itself as covering all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner.

It was formally endorsed by the UN General Assembly in Dec. 2018 and is not an international treaty and will be non-binding under international law.

The director stressed that the review would examine the progress of the implementation of the Global Compact at the national levels as well as identify priorities for the implementation.

“The objective of these meetings is to review the achievements that shall be made on the continent: look at good practices, challenges and opportunities that the countries have encountered in the implementation.”

She noted that the GCM was anchored on the Universal Charter on Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the African Union in the UN framework on implementation of Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

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She further emphasised that the GCM, however, sought the realisation of improved labour migration governance in Africa.

Contributing, Maureen Achieng, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Chief of Mission to Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union and UNECA, pointed out that migration and human mobility were core potential for human development in Africa.

Achieng stressed that the GCM recognised that properly managed migration contributed to positive development outcomes and provided operational frameworks for the achievement of people-centred and human rights based governance of migration.

The chief of mission said migration was central to Africa’s transformation agenda and Africa was also critical to effective global migration governance.

She noted that the Africa Continental Free Movement Protocol was at the heart of Africa’s regional integration agenda as well as the African Union’s development ambitions in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

She also added that the hope for an integrated and prosperous continent was further emphasised by the start of the AfCFTA on Jan. 1.

“In the last few years, there has been a proliferation of African solutions to Africa’s migration challenges and we can point to the continental free movement protocol, the AfCFTA as well as the Joint Labour Migration Programme.

“These three key policy decisions by the African Union give you a sense of Africa’s commitment to an integrated continent that facilitates rather than impedes a movement of the African people,” she said.

She further commended Africa’s progress in legislative and policy reforms, multi-stakeholder coordination, the implementation of projects implemented in fulfillment of Africa’s commitment to the GCM.

She, however, said much still remained to be done to address the movement of people and to fully reap the development benefits of “well-governed migration”.

She said, “Africa’s progressive continental and regional migration policy framework requires commensurate national migration policies and practices.

“Africa also needs deeper interstate cooperation, coordination and exchange among migration actors as well as stronger capacities among migration stakeholders.

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“The African review of the implementation of the GCM provides us with a platform that member states and other stakeholders can use to assess the progress made this far in implementing GCM in Africa, highlight challenges and opportunities, point to good practices and discuss regional priorities and resources required to fully implement the GCM in Africa.”

Achieng expressed hope that the review would formulate key findings and recommendations that Africa would contribute to the forthcoming 2022 International Migration Review Forum.

Also, Jonathan Prentice, Head of the secretariat of the UN Network on Migration, noted that no country could implement its migration policies in isolation from another.

Prentice stressed that the GCM document could, however, not implement itself.

She pointed out that one of the great achievements in the document was the implementation as the drafters recognised this and built in a mechanism for follow-up and review on a regional and global levels, every four years.

“One of the key foundations of the GCM is that it is not legally binding and it does not intrude on national sovereignty so it also places the onus on them to ensure the GCM makes real life impact in the lives of the migrants and their communities, whether it is that of origin, transit, or of destination,” he said.

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