Saturday, November 19, 2011

Leadership In Migration & Development

If migrants and migrant organisations want to impact policymaking and the debate on development in their countries of origin, they will have to start working towards thoughtleadership in this field. EU Ambassador Michel Arrion's comments this week in Kigali (see below) make this perfectly clear.
 Is there an alternative to the Singapore model? Kampeta Sayinzoga, who runs Rwanda's finances, made her case for Rwanda in Brussels june 12. The Jambonews blog is an impressive initiative that moves the ball across the field in terms of professionalism and a push for thoughtleadership.
Is it true that we have to choose between messy socalled failed states and autocratic states that actually progress as suggested by former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson? Is democracy the icing on the cake?

How do the development and security sectors relate to democratic development and the participation of migrants in the debate? Are they natural ennemies or is it just conservatism that prevents progress in this field.

Resources for smallscale migrant organisations in development:
Yesterday, The Commission launched a public debate on the right to family reunification of third-country nationals living in the EU.  Is there a need to change the EU rules on family reunification of migrants? You can give your views here.


    Anonymous said...

    Thoughtful post.

    So you know, I am Cuban American. To be exact, my grandmother was Congolese (Luba), her husband was Spanish, and in 1951 they moved to Cuba and then, after the revolution, they moved to Miami- Little Havana. Their oldest daughter of 7 kids was my mother who married a Japanese American (my father, who’s family were also migrants).

    While my patrimony are not migrants like, say, Mexican Americans are what I have noticed among Cuban Americans is a very intense effort at building businesses, exile organizations, and patronizing the Republican Party- largely because Republicans, as conservatives, have long wanted Castro out.

    Indeed, one could say all of America is one big migrant success story- Jews, Italians, the Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Cubans, Mexican Americans, Palestinians, and increasingly Africans.

    I am sure its not a surprise to you of the relative "success" of Cuban Americans but one way they have influenced policy is through building a economic base (the businesses), building a grassroots base (the organizations), and channeling effort on ONE political party- no matter the fortunes of that Party.

    It would be interesting to get your thoughts on that model given your interests in using new media- a basebuilding medium- to build power among migrants.

    Now to your question: How do the development and security sectors relate to democratic development and the participation of migrants in the debate?

    Ultimately, it depends on your goal. If your goal is, say, more democracy in Rwanda than the strategy could be creating a grassroots organization that, as its prime objective, advocates policies that link aid to democratic governance (with sanctions if they are not followed) and, crucially, raises money to give to politicians to ensure they listen to you. For Cubans, the main organization is the Cuban American National Foundation. Cuban Americans give very generously to the organization and, in turn, CANF keeps politicians in line by either giving or withholding money near election time. Jewish Americans do this as well with AIPAC, their pro-Israel lobby group.

    This is but one way but clearly this assumes one should become a “citizen” and then become adroit in playing hardcore politics.

    What you seem to want is power, yes? Power for migrants to influence policy, correct? Well, there are only two kinds of power in the world: money and people.

    Migrants should build organizations that bring people together, brings money together, and pushes policy on the politician.

    What do you think?


    Anonymous said...

    And to be clear, "thought leadership" is important in that it helps frame debates.

    But, at the end of the day, policy in the West is subject to the political fortunes of the politicians who appoint the bureaucrats that shape it.

    In other-wards, there is a big difference between policy and politics. Obama, as but one example, does not face domestic political pressure to clamp down on Kagame or encourage better behavior out of Kabila. American evangelicals have gained some control over foriegn policy in Africa but not the entire apparatus. But, for say Cuba or Israel, there are POWERFUL domestic lobbies pushing for particular policies- and none of those leaders are "thoughtful" in the slightest.

    They simply want policy that either punishes Castro or keeps Palestinians in settler camps.

    And they have succeeded....


    Vincent Harris said...

    Very interesting angle.

    Cuban Americans that became active in the GOP are probably similar to many Eastern European immigrants that became active in christian democratic or conservative (anti-communist) politics in western Europe during the last century. The common ennemy of communism was a great tool to mobilize people.

    Since the end of the Sovet Union this focal point of politics on both sides of the Atlantic has disappeared.

    In my opinion Donald Tusk's recent victory in Poland was in part based on his appeal on the large number of Polish migrant workers across Europe and reminiscent of Polish cold war history. Somewhat similar to the Cubans in Florida I could imagine.

    The Cuban Americans and AIPAC are great examples in terms of organisation. I agree that results of both lobby's aren't all positive (to put it mildly). But in terms of engagement, organisation and strength migrants from Africa can certainly learn from them.

    To return to Donald Tusk's contemporary movement, civic platform, that has me intrigued. It succeeded in coalition building between christian democrats, libertarians and conservatives while being very pro-migration. Parties across Europe can learn from Civic platform, while it appeals to a strong undercurrent in both the GOP and European conservative libertarian and Christian Democratic parties.

    The Congolese and Rwandan diaspora should try the Cuban strategy. Shake off the anti-Americanism and figure out a strategy to take over the discussion from within.