Potsdam Spring Dialogues 2016

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Pathways towards Coordinated African Migration Governance:
The African Regional Organisations’ Role 

7-8 April 2016, Potsdam

Conference languages: German and English

- Participation on personal invitation only - 

International refugee movements, especially to the European continent, are currently the topic of intense debate in Europe. However, the issues dominating the African migration governance discourse from an African perspective generally receive little attention in Germany and Europe. In 2013 alone, there were - according to the United Nations (UN) – 15.3 million migrants on the move in an African state other than their home country – and the numbers are increasing. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 65 per cent of sub-Saharan African migrants remain on their own continent.

The causes of intra-African migration are highly diverse and include armed conflict, political repression and human rights abuses. However, people also migrate for the purpose of work or study or take advantage of the freedom of movement which the African Union (AU) and regional economic communities (RECs) are working towards. The interests of and challenges facing the individual regions and countries vary considerably; most African countries can additionally not be divided into home, transit and destination countries as they are mostly affected by all three phenomena.

Coordinated and coherent migration governance has therefore emerged as one of the key challenges for the African countries. Their main task is to harness the potential of regular migration while lowering the risks and costs for migrants and refugees and mitigating the negative impacts on home, transit and host countries. The importance of migration governance for the continent’s development is stated in the AU’s Migration Policy Framework for Africa (2006) and Agenda 2063 (2013), for example. In its Declaration on Migration (2015), too, the AU reaffirmed the importance of mobility in accelerating regional economic integration.

In recent years, some RECs have therefore developed diverse initiatives to promote mobility and manage migration. At the forefront are efforts to improve migrants’ legal and social status, to regulate and expand freedom of movement and labour migration, and to curb irregular migration. Progress on implementing these initiatives and enforcing the rules and guidelines adopted at the pan-African level is sluggish, however – often due to a lack of institutional and human capacities within the AU, the RECs and their Member States.

Against this background, the Potsdam Spring Dialogues 2016 will critically appraise the regional mechanisms for implementing migration governance in Africa. African and European stakeholders will then jointly identify and discuss priorities and fields of action for comprehensive and coherent refugee and migration governance in Africa.

  • Which regional protocols and dialogue processes on migration governance and refugee policy exist in Africa? What gaps are to be closed?
  • Which practical measures are required in order to meet the goals agreed upon?
  • How can the potential afforded by regular migration and mobility be utilised more effectively in the interests of Africa’s development? What measures can be taken to ensure that the out-migration of skilled workers does not become a barrier to development?
  • How can Germany and the EU support actors of migration governance in Africa in order to boost regional economic integration? What options are there to cooperate on developing long-term solutions?
  • In which areas can the EU serve as a model? Where can African stakeholders learn from the experiences and current challenges facing the EU, if appropriate? Where should the EU step up its efforts?
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