Joint EU-AU Summit: Migration & Remittance – AU’s perspective

On January 24th, the European Union and African Union left their independent conferences and came together for a larger, unified one with McMUN. The morning proved to be quite productive, and the first resolution – on colonial reconciliation – was passed. This resolution commits to increasing access to technology and education in Africa, and attempts to eradicate poverty as agreed upon in the Cotonou Agreement. It also acknowledges the need for recognition of past colonialism, and desires for reconciliation to take place and strengthen EU-AU relations.

The Vice Chair of the African Union found the debates over the resolution slightly divisive as several members of the African Union were less willing to cooperate, citing lack of compensation for past injustices. However, she also asserted that in the joint conference, she found delegates playing their roles more actively and accurately. The Vice Chair found herself looking forward to the current committee session, and seeing whether the second resolution on migration and remittances will pass.

At the beginning of the evening conference, Omar el Basheer was hit with a motion for censure. Other committee members found that he was not accurately reflecting his country’s foreign policy. The dais held him banned until he could prove that he was in fact respecting his own country’s foreign policy.

Eritrea, Liberia, Morocco, Sudan, and Burundi were the sponsors of the second paper which  endeavors to recognize the important contributions made by migrants to development in their countries of origin and destination, and their contributions to the economy and society. It also attempts to successfully implement remittance incentives to encourage individuals stay within their respective unions and reduce migration concerns.

For the committee, migration facilitates development by enhancing income distribution, encouraging gender equality, and improving partnerships amongst developed African countries and other stakeholders. Migrant remittances contribute to poorer households and aim to stabilize irregular incomes. They also contribute to health care, daily necessities, and school fees. Remittances have the potential to lessen the migrant country’s dependence on foreign assistance, by effectively building human and social capital. Unfortunately, remittances are not being used as effectively as they could be.

A few concerns were raised with respect to the working paper. For example, with African students being encouraged to study at European universities (see clause 8), the result could be a brain drain and loss of traditional knowledge. The sponsors responded by asserting that Africans who visit Europe gain a new type of knowledge which supplements their own. In return, Europe benefits from increased interaction with African population; both parties benefit. Czech Republic asked why one would bring in professors from abroad if they are unfamiliar with indigenous languages. The sponsors replied that ultimately, if professors bring new languages to an African country it would result in increased diversity, and the professor in turn would benefit from learning the indigenous language (especially African Studies professors and researchers).

Ethiopia also objected to the paper, observing clause 2A and asking the sponsors how they would register illegal immigrants. The sponsors replied that they would add incentives, for example giving registered citizens lower transaction fees (which would apply to remittances). Finally, Senegal opposed very strongly to the paper, claiming that it was ignorant, and the worst of the clauses was 2C in which the term “refugee” was redefined despite a detailed definition already established by the UN Refugee Commission. The sponsors replied that they had endeavored to expand the definition of asylum and not refugee – such an act is not from ignorance but in an attempt to clarify and provide a broader definition.

Ultimately, the working paper passed, although with many amendments. With colonial reparations and migration addressed, delegates are left to work on European Investments in Africa – the third and final topic – in Sunday’s session.