- Migration is a loaded word with a negative context, causing migrants and mobile populations to face issues with stigma.
- There are many different kinds of migrants— immigrants from particular countries, emigrants in overseas work, ethnic minorities, internal migrants, victims of exploitation and abuse, and irregular migrants and displaced persons, though they are often clumped into one category when making global policy.
- National policies often forget to include migrants in their strategic health plans, especially in emergencies.
- Migrant populations + HIV = Stigma x 2
- Migrants are good for a host country/community. The common stereotype is that they are “carriers” of disease and steal away jobs from local people. These ways of thinking affect national policies and local attitudes.
Several weeks ago, I participated in a two-day departmental retreat that really helped me gain insight into how a headquarter organization functions. Some of the main issues discussed were:
- The need to harness information systems to produce quality data
- Visibility—IOM’s role within the UN, relationship with UNHCR, and distinguishing its role as the lead organization for migration
- The need to strengthen coordination between IOM divisions and departments, UN organizations, and other sectors
- The need to establish a Migration Governance Conceptual Framework to improve the organization’s focus, strengthen communication within the IOM and partners, and identify cross-cutting issues.
- Lack of human resources—headquarters staff cannot be experts in every part of the world so they are always sprinting to keep up
I also had the opportunity to attend meetings at the Palais des Nations during the Human Rights Council in June. I was sent to take notes in meetings specifically addressing migration and/or health but I also got to attend a few that interested me personally. The Palais is a huge maze of fancy buildings and rooms and it is very hard to navigate (a symbol of UN bureaucracy?). For the Human Rights Council, country Ambassadors typically led the meetings, while other member states had country cards that they would raise when wanting to make a point. Watching countries argue over wordings of resolutions was both fascinating and mind-numbing. The politics surrounding migration created subtle tensions between certain countries, but on the surface, the mood was mild and the pace was extraordinarily slow. That, I believe, is one of the more frustrating aspects of the UN system. Last week I heard a U.S. diplomat say that Americans are obsessed with efficiency and forget that global policy has to move slowly to affect real change. Change does not happen in a couple weeks or months. It often entails major shifts in ways of thinking about a problem. Today during a talk from the World Health Organization, the speaker stated, “better to walk together slowly than to run ahead alone.” I know that I need more time to reflect on this statement and see where it lies in relation to my values and where I see my future self in the global policy field.