You are here

Cities for Migration: local governments commit to defend rights universality in migration governance

Migration plays an important role in the evolution of the world’s urban population. It transforms cities into living spaces characterized by diversity and human mobility. Accordingly, the role of local authorities has become more important than ever to ensure social cohesion and access to fundamental rights for all, regardless of their origin or administrative status. With a view to provide a space where to exchange points of view and initiatives in this regard, our Committee brings together local authorities expressing a clear commitment to guarantee rights universality and to be at the forefront of the fight against racism and discrimination. United, Cities for migration are resolved to play a role in international debates on global migration governance: they defend the need to take into account local action in guaranteeing diverse and cohesive societies, and to consider human rights as guiding principles in the process.

By facilitating spaces of exchange and debate for local authorities, our Committee is able to express the main challenges, lessons learnt and priorities of local authorities in regards to migration policies. Participating local governments are committed to ensure human rights universality for all city dwellers, and see in the network a way to advance a shared political agenda at the international level

Articulating the voice of local authorities on migration and intercultural dialogue

Our Committee organizes international meetings aimed at establishing committments that reflect the points of view, priorities and actions of member-local authorities in regards to the global governance of migration. We also take part in meetings, debates and learning events of partner networks or member local governments to provide inputs on the basis of the practices of our member-local governments. The topics discussed in this regard are deeply interrelated with the notions of human rights universality, intercultural dialogue and social inclusion.

Despite its transnational nature, global international migration flows have its most direct impact at the local and territorial level. Migration transforms cities into living spaces characterized by diversity and human mobility, posing new requirements in regards to guaranteeing local social cohesion, equality and opportunities for all. While some migrants are able to integrate quickly through their insertion in the labour market, migration still appears as a matter of survival for many. For some, the city might be seen as a place to thrive – a framework where to access to a dignified life and the urban services that come with the right to the city. However, too many still face discrimination, xenophobia or struggling economic conditions, being only able to settle down in the socio-spatial frontiers of the city.

It is because municipalities are the closest level of government to the needs and aspirations of people, that local authorities can make a difference in reversing this situation effectively. As a matter of fact, worldwide local administrations are already playing a key role in the social inclusion of migrants through their daily local action. They are normally providers of basic social services, access to education, cultural facilities or urban land and housing. In perspective, these are fundamental human rights – basic conditions for an adequate standard of living – that, on many occasions, local governments are committing to fulfil universally, regardless of one’s administrative situation or origin.

Local governments are also in the capacity to counter racism and xenophobia by fighting stereotypes and strengthening social interaction between local city dwellers. They are instrumental institutions to make local opportunities accessible for all inhabitants, and to reinforce the idea that diversity is an enriching factor for local life at all levels. As our century will see the highest rates of world urbanization propelled by international migration flows, stakeholders behind global migration governance will have to recognize and support local government action in this regard. They will equally have to clear space for expressing their needs and sharing their experience in the definition of national and international strategies.