Guidelines on the Migration-Development Nexus

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

Italian Agency for Development Cooperation

LINK 2007 Observations


Recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) have developed a document of about ten pages specifying the STRATEGIC GUIDELINES ON THE MIGRATION-DEVELOPMENT NEXUS.

Below are some observations from LINK 2007:

1. The Guidelines provide a clear summary of a previous elaboration by the CNCS working group on the subject, highlighting positive strategies and actions but also neglecting others. As a result, there are some shortcomings that it is hoped can be addressed during their implementation.

2. They refer to policies and implementing measures adopted by the UN, both regarding refugees and “orderly, safe, regular, and responsible” migration. The focus is on actions in third countries, such as assisting refugees in those countries, without considering – if only for the sake of policy coherence – the methods of receiving refugees in Italy, whose costs are still counted as Official Development Assistance in the annual DAC reports.

3. The priority areas of action express a dual orientation: international conventions, agendas, and commitments on one hand, and national policies on the other. This is consistent with the current government’s policy but not equally aligned with the broad and ambitious mandate of development cooperation, which is “a qualifying part of Italian foreign policy,” inspired by “the principles of the United Nations Charter and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,” recognizing “the centrality of the human person, in both its individual and communal dimension,” pursuing objectives aimed at “protecting and affirming human rights and the dignity of the individual” (Article 1 of Law 125/2014).

4.The Guidelines refer to Italy’s areas of action, which are essentially those adopted internationally: “political dialogue, border management, assistance to refugees and migrants, economic development, awareness campaigns, readmissions, assisted voluntary returns, regular migration, protection and asylum, and the promotion of human rights.” However, these areas can be implemented and interpreted differently based on prevailing political orientations, which can either strengthen or weaken the value of the Guidelines and the strength of partnership relationships. Policy coherence is mentioned for the purposes of the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of sustainable development goals. However, it seems limited to the migration context, while European Council Resolution 8529 (16.05.2019) reminds all Member States of the obligation, enshrined in the Treaty, to take into account the objectives of development cooperation in all internal and external policies.

The five strategic objectives with their respective priorities contain valid elements of bilateral cooperation that, in part, “qualify” development cooperation, as undoubtedly intended by the drafters of the document. However, they also seem restrained by the dual orientation mentioned above, which tends to diminish the indispensable “coherence of policies – internal and external – with the objectives of development cooperation” and the ambitions of Law 125.

a. Objective 1: “Migration governance with partner countries,” including attention to the “Mattei Plan for Africa” and the “establishment of a Southern Partnership” by the European Union. All is well, except that while seeking to establish migration governance with partner countries, there is no reference to Italy’s governance of immigration, which struggles to establish reasonable and effective rules for the dignified integration of those already residing in our country. The two issues are undoubtedly interconnected. LINK 2007 highlighted this in a recent document on Immigration Governance and Cooperation with countries of origin.

b. Objective 2: “Contribution of regular migration to the development of partner countries.” It emphasizes the role of Diaspora associations (development of origin communities, remittances, skill transfers). The aim is to strengthen Diaspora associations and their cultural, social, and political interaction with Italian NGOs and those of the countries of origin; support their entrepreneurial potential; reduce the cost of remittances; facilitate their investment; support returnees by enhancing acquired skills for development; legal immigration initiatives for talent (“Talent Partnership,” with European funding), also with forms of circular migration.

[A note appears in a box, which is not true, and Dgcs intends to correct it. “… the idea of creating a national Diaspora Forum was born in 2021, through the project “Draft the future! Towards the National Diaspora Forum,” financed by AICS and implemented in collaboration with IOM.” Instead, the path of the Summit of the Diaspora began in 2016, on the initiative of Le Réseau with the involvement of valid representatives of the Diasporas themselves. The idea was supported by Dgcs, AICS, and other donors, and five Summits were held, culminating in the final step of establishing the Diaspora Forum. However, the initiative was taken away from the Diasporas and assigned to AICS, which entrusted it to IOM with a three-year project that restarted the process from scratch.]

c. Objective 3: “Integrating migration as a cross-cutting theme in development cooperation policies and activities,” especially in countries with high migration pressure and transit countries. The priority actions are to integrate the migration dimension into development cooperation policies and activities related to education, health, water and hygiene, renewable energy, vocational training, labor, small and medium enterprises, agriculture, environment, and climate change; create dignified local employment, support local development plans, promote partnerships between Italian territorial entities and partner countries (see LINK 2007 on the subject).

d. Objective 4: “Ensuring protection for vulnerable individuals”: access to basic services for host communities and for migrants, refugees, displaced persons, and returnees; protection of minors, victims of trafficking, and human trafficking; strengthening judicial systems. Some reflection should also be made on what happens in our country regarding these points.

e. Objective 5: “Promoting a responsible and informed narrative on migration and the migration-development nexus.” Information on the positive impact of regular migration on the social, economic, and cultural development of countries of origin and destination and on the risks of irregular migration; research and in-depth initiatives with universities and the Third Sector.

The final section, titled “Monitoring and evaluation criteria,” reaffirms some important points.

i.Initiatives must pursue socio-economic development and the well-being of developing countries.

ii. Activities conditioned solely and exclusively on containing or blocking flows, returns, and readmissions, even if legitimate, are not considered Official Development Assistance (ODA) by the OECD.

iii. The right to asylum, international protection, access to justice, assistance to displaced persons, and safe, informed, and voluntary returns must be guaranteed.

The guidelines undoubtedly express positive development cooperation, although in our opinion, it is partial and not ambitious enough. The current political approach, even in a phase of adaptation, evolution, and refinement, seems to condition its values and contents. However, development cooperation and the partnerships that qualify it cannot be subordinate to contingent political approaches that are continually evolving. Initiatives and activities risk easily transforming into something else, no longer definable as development cooperation, sustainability, equal partnerships – precisely the features that we want to build and multiply as the identifying mark of Italy’s orientation.

Read the document HERE.