United Methodist Delegation to Attend Migrant Rights Convention in Geneva, Switzerland
A General Board of Global Ministries delegation will attend the People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights (PGA) in Geneva, Switzerland, November 28–December 2, 2011.
A delegation of 18 church representatives will attend the PGA as part of the mission agency’s focus on global migration and poverty. The PGA is a grass-roots event organized by Migrant Rights International that brings together migrant organizations from around the world. It is held in tandem with the intergovernmental Global Forum on Migration and Development and a related Civil Society Days.
The General Board of Global Ministries (Global Ministries), including United Methodist Women, will bring a delegation representing Central and Southern Europe, Congo, Germany, Philippines and West Africa Central Conferences as well as representatives of the United Methodist Task Force on Immigration, staff, United Methodist missionaries, students, and a director of United Methodist Women.
The Global Ministries’ delegation to Geneva will seek to understand the migration realities faced by United Methodists and Methodists in diverse regions of the world, and, in collaboration with secular migrant organizations from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the United States, explore migrant experiences and migration policy. They will strengthen networks to promote global, regional and national policies that put migrant human rights at the center. They will consider how genuine sustainable development could create conditions in which the poor would be free to choose to stay and not be forced to migrate in search of livelihoods. Methodist delegates will consider how this global advocacy experience can strengthen their work at home with migrant sending congregations, receiving congregations and migrant congregations.
This represents an ongoing commitment to global migration, linked to poverty. Global Migration is a model project of Global Ministries’ work on Ministry With the Poor, which links direct service and local ministries to national and global advocacy for just migration policy prioritizing human rights.
Building on The United Methodist Church's Resolution #6028, “Global Migration: The Quest for Justice” (from The Book of Resolutions, 2008), Global Ministries understands the upsurge in migration around the world to be the result of unequal distribution of resources and opportunities globally, reflected in poverty, underdevelopment, climate change and war, which push people to move.
At the same time, wealthy nations have eagerly sought migrant workers to fill gaps in their employment needs and lower costs through exploitative jobs while taking harsh measures to limit workers’ rights, freedom of movement, and better employment opportunities. Increasingly, these migrant workers around the world find barriers including racism, harsh enforcement policies and growing criminalization of migrants.
United Methodist Policy
Global Ministries as the lead global mission agency is mandated by General Conference to address the issue of global migration as part of the priority concern of Ministries With the Poor. Global Ministries also resources the United Methodist Task Force on Immigration to address global migration in church and society. Resolution #6028, “Global Migration: The Quest for Justice” calls on the church to:
- Engage in strong, coordinated advocacy on migration issues and on behalf of actions that overcome poverty, war and other causes leading to the displacement and marginalization of people.
- Advocate for “Just and equitable trade and development policies that support human rights and counteract the root causes of migration such as war and militarization, environment spoilage, and corporate greed.”
- Engagement with other Christian and religious organizations in North-South dialogues, study of international economic policies, and joint action.
- Education of church members and communities on the causes and realities of migration, including international treaty commitments, the issues of economic and environmental justice, and the obstacles to a just, peaceable world created by anti-immigrant racism and xenophobia.
Participating United Methodists
- Missionary to Japan from the Philippines
- Regional Missionary, Sierra Leone
- Representative, Waldensian/Methodist Church of Italy
- Representatives, German Central Conference
- Representatives, Central and Southern Europe Conference
- Representatives, United Methodist Task Force on Immigration
- Youth delegates from Democratic Republic of the Congo, Philippines, Poland
- Staff of Global Ministries and United Methodist Women
- United Methodist Women Director
- United Methodist woman leader, Sierra Leone
Global Forum on Migration and Development
The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) is the only intergovernmental forum on migration. It emerged from a United Nations High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development in 2006. Nations were unwilling to create a process on migration within the U.N. that might constrain domestic policy. Thus, the GFMD was created as a private process, independent from the U.N., to meet annually for six years, hosted by specific countries, alternating between North and South.
In 2011, the fifth meeting will be hosted by Switzerland followed by a 2012 meeting in Mauritius. The process will return to the United Nations in New York City in 2013, where Global Ministries and United Methodist Women anticipate having an advocacy presence.
Through United Methodist Women, Global Ministries was present at the 2006 U.N. High Level Dialogue and has attended the GFMD Civil Society Days since 2009. Global Ministries organized an international delegation to the PGA in Mexico City in 2010. In May 2011, local United Methodist Women from the New York Annual Conference attended an informal U.N. dialogue on Migration and Development, and United Methodist Women joined Migrant Rights International and other groups in hosting a parallel meeting on migration, development and human rights.
United Methodist Women has been working with partners to host forums on migrant women during the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, and it joined with partners to explore race and migration at the recent ten-year review of the U.N. World Conference Against Racism.
Global Ministries supports and works closely with immigrants and refugees through work with churches, ecumenical partners, and community-based organizations in the United States and around the world. Programs include support for youth organizing, scholarships, ministries with migrant congregations, and ministries with children and families. Our Restorative Justice program challenges current migration enforcement policies including detention and deportation and the growing criminalization of migrants.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has engaged the United Methodist churches in supporting resettlement of refugees in the United States for more than 60 years. In addition, UMCOR’s Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) program partners with local U.S. congregations to provide free immigration legal services while engaging congregation and community members in advocacy efforts to restore human and civil rights for immigrants.
The Office of Racial Ethnic Ministry in cooperation with the United Methodist national ethnic plans works to support, strengthen and expand local organizations providing services to migrants. These initiatives also create and nurture international, national, regional and local partnerships and networks between local congregations and community organizing grass-roots groups.
The Civil Society Days are an invitation-only event of some 200 delegates from faith, labor, development and migrant organizations around the world held prior to the Global Forum on Migration and Development. Carol Barton of United Methodist Women serves on the Consultation Circle for the Civil Society Days. Ms. Barton will represent United Methodist Women and Global Ministries at the Civil Society Days, and Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the Desert Southwest Conference will represent the United Methodist Task Force on Immigration.
The People’s Global Assembly on Migration and Development was created as an open space for migrant rights, faith-based, women’s, labor and academic organizations to convene in relation to the GFMD. It is a space for sharing realities and concerns among migrant groups and their allies while also seeking to articulate policy concerns that will impact the intergovernmental GFMD.
Quotes from The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church—2008 copyright © 2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.