Migration: a new diplomatic windfall?

You’d think that diplomats were bored when there was no migration. What were our representatives abroad doing before the migration era? Some would say, however, that migration is a human matter, from time immemorial, since man is man. Man is a migrant, in migration, by nature. It’s ontological. Migrating is simply living, that’s what we say at Josefa

And yet, recently it appears that we have been focusing on the "migration phenomenon" which, paradoxically, we tend to interpret as being a new reality. The media, politicians, and international organisations are paying attention to those who are moving, who seek refuge, who seek a better life, or who just want to survive, for themselves or for their loved ones.

But what is new under the sun? In ancient times, the foreigner was the one for whom we prepared a place at the table, in case he appeared at the door. We have the same sun in the 21st century, but not the same foreigner. He has become the object of all my fears and suspicions, and even the cause of my troubles and concerns. Of course, there are good reasons for the present situation, historical reasons in particular. We became nation-states, lined with borders that are often the fortuitous, or even improper, product of mankind’s history and the geography of our planet: my nation, my country; my trademark, my label. That is how we define ourselves in the 21st century, in spite of Europe, the United Nations and globalisation. Those borders shall not be crossed.

Our representatives abroad dedicate much of their time, it seems, to avoid setting the table for the unexpected guest. Their priority now is to manage, or even control, contain and stabilise the movements of those who arrive or are tempted to make a move from where they are.

This new international objective, whether or not aimed at fostering the movement of some people, has become a priority, to the detriment of other objectives, it would seem, such as drug, dirty money and arms trafficking which nevertheless make, proportionally, many more victims. As a matter of fact, we would be justified to ask the following question: how can some 220 million people (2016 statistics from the IOM), out of about 8 billion (3%) which planet Earth carries and supports, make the world and the diplomats turn their heads so much? From all possible and conceivable perspectives: safety, management, integration, sociology, education, terrorism, employment, social cohesion, culture, language, prevention, conflict resolution, human rights, arts, trade, diasporas, agriculture, energy, luxury, gastronomy…, "migrants" or "refugees" mobilise so much attention, so much investment, such efforts. The United Nations (ref.: September 2016 Summit), the World Bank, intergovernmental and interregional institutions, the EU, the AU, bilateral initiatives, trust funds... everything is mobilised on the altar of migration. International relations seem to have been widely dominated over the last few years, or even paralysed recently, by this "business", the disproportionality of which is astonishing.

One may well wonder about the real legitimacy of such attention. Is the world so bored? "Migrants", the new "target" of the 21st century, pay the price for it in any case, bringing down upon themselves the limelight as well as the wrath of political capitals, at the expense of other "subjects" which are no less challenging to tackle since they relate to the underlying causes of some of these migratory movements.