07.09.2018 - UNESCO Office in Harare

International Conference on Migration opens in South Africa

The International Conference on Migration running under theme, “Southern perspectives on migration: Addressing knowledge production, policies and cooperation”, was officially opened on 5th September 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Addressing about 135 delegates, mainly African scholars, academics and policy makers, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Social and Human Sciences (ADG/SHS), Ms. Nada Al-Nashif said international migration is one of the most widely and intensely debated topics. She said attention is not only on the increasing stock of international migrants but also the consequence of conflicting approaches to migration and the prevalence of a negative perception of international mobility that emphasises challenges than benefits/potential.

She said the magnitude and complexity of migration in an increasingly interconnected world call for revamped global efforts, greater concentration and coherence anchored on human rights principles.

The #AFROMIGRATION conference is special in that as it deliberately brings the African region under the spotlight. African migration has for long been on the margins of global discussions on mobility and this needs to be addressed, said the ADG/SHS.

She added that the current picture of mobility in Africa requires a deliberate policy response and the mainstreaming of migration across all relevant policy domains targeting vulnerable groups including women, children, the elderly and those with disabilities.
Speaking at the same event, University of Witwatersrand Vice Chancellor, Prof. Adam Habib said there is need for human solidarity and political will to address migration challenges in Africa.

He said African migration should be dominant on the international agendas since most of the migrants are actually on the African continent rather than Western Europe as projected in the current dominant discourse.

He added that it disturbing to note that while for decades evidence has shown that international mobility and migration enable economic growth and possibilities for inclusion, there are political entrepreneurs who use migration and international mobility as an excuse to hate rather than reflect on solidarity.

The Vice Chancellor urged the United Nations to move a step from just providing empirical evidence to start asking questions on how to create political will that is responsive to the evidence.

Speaking on behalf of the Government of South Africa, Ms. Nelisiwe Vilakazi, Deputy Director-General in the Department of Social Development said her Government regards migration as beneficial if it is planned and properly managed. She added that the South African Government provides social protection to women and children migrants.

An effective response to migration in Africa requires a better understanding of the drivers of migration. As part of its mission to promote inclusive societies, UNESCO strives to ensure inclusion of migrants by empowering local authorities through the UNESCO International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities programme, among various other strategies.
The conference is explicitly interdisciplinary, intending to break from strict academic and policy silos to promote crosspollination and critical consideration of how information on migration is generated, considered, and employed. It is particularly concerned with the creation and mobilisation of migration knowledge across Africa where, like much social research, agendas are largely determined by domestic and policy makers and donors.

<- Back to: Regional Office for Southern Africa
Back to top