It is in Switzerland’s interest to make a global commitment to migration, Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told a migration forum in Geneva on Thursday.
Switzerland currently chairs the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which is holding its fifth annual meeting in Geneva from December 1-2, attended by representatives of 160 states and civil society members.
“One of the conclusions I have drawn from my first year in office is that whoever tries to develop national migration policy without looking beyond their own borders will fail,” Sommaruga, who also heads the Federal Migration Office, told the audience at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva.
The minister underlined the importance of joint state initiatives, referring to a recent migration accord with Guinea. She said she had had bilateral migration talks in Geneva with officials from Kenya, Turkey, South Africa and Iraq.
The Swiss delegation, led by ambassador Eduard Gnesa, also has meetings planned with representatives from Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
The Geneva forum marks the end of Switzerland’s one-year presidency, during which it has organised 14 regional working meetings, focusing in particular on labour mobility, irregular migration, and the integration of migration in development policies. The forum will examine three reports on these and other issues on Friday.
William Gois, representing civil society groups, told the conference that it was time “to move forward away from talking and towards action” to initiate meaningful change for the many people stuck in the vicious cycle of vulnerability and exploitation.
The global forum was created in 2006 by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to improve cooperation on migration issues. Mauritius will take over the presidency from Switzerland.
swissinfo.ch and agencies