The role of human rights in migration regional consultative processes.

Author:Wexler, Lesley

States increasingly use Regional Consultative Processes (RCPs) to address and manage migration issues. RCPs purposely limit membership and eschew movement towards more binding or transparent governance. These institutions span the globe with the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees (IGC) covering Europe, North America, and Australia; the Puebla Process covering Northern and Central America; the Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA); and the Soderkoping Process in Eastern Europe. In turn, these RCPs participate in meta-RCPs, like the Berne Process, to allow information-sharing among the various regional groupings. States seem to like RCPs as they facilitate a dialogue on migration without sacrificing sovereignty, they coordinate information exchange, and they contribute to the formation and internalization of guiding principles and best practices. These informal, nonbinding institutions provide an interesting example of a lightly legalized and highly functional multilateral approach to regional problems.

RCPs offer a site where states can develop and disseminate both management and human rights approaches to migration issues. RCPs facilitate communication with meetings, designated points of contact, and workshops. RCPs encourage states to coordinate agenda-setting and issue definition in the migration context. Some RCPs seem to place the promotion and integration of human rights high on the agenda; others do not. These regional groupings can also assist consensus-building and position convergence. From a human rights perspective, RCPs could help ratchet up protections through site visits, trainings, and shared understandings, but, of course, they might also facilitate the adoption of a lowest common denominator approach to human rights while harmonizing aggressive management perspectives. Lastly, and most difficult to discern, RCPs might be credited with implementation of new policies and initiatives at the state level.

The possibility of human rights influences entering from nonstate actors varies across RCPs. RCPs differ in their willingness to directly engage with civil society and private actors. Some, such as MIDSA, involve outside groups like NGOs and UN actors in meetings as presenters, observers, and discussants. In a slightly different approach, the Soderkoping Process conducts sub-regional NGO networking workshops, including one focused on refugee-assisting NGOs in Ukraine. Other RCPs have...

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