Quito, Ecuador – 20 January 2020

The Peoples Global Action on Migration Development and Human Rights (PGA) led by the PGA International Committee will be organized on 20 January 2020 in Quito Ecuador. Since 2006 the PGA brings together migrant associations, migrant rights organizations, trade unions, faith groups, academia and other civil society from around the world to share information, dialogue, strengthen analyses and develop joint actions and campaigns on current and emerging issues related to migration.

The PGA provides an essential space to enable civil society to critically engage the governments’ Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) process and to challenge states to undertake migration and development policy-making from a human rights framework, as well as hold governments accountable to their international human rights and development commitments. The PGA also paves the way for capacity building and the development of movements and networks.

This year the PGA will be held back to back with the GFMD which will be held from 21-24 January 2020.

The 2020 PGA in Quito will focus on the following three themes:

Criminalization of Migration:

Migrants continue to pay a high price for restrictive and exploitative migration policies. Migrants risk their lives on a daily basis and embark on dangerous migratory journeys as a result of the lack of serious regular migration options. Reaching their destination is however no guarantee of safety. Migrants in irregular situations are faced by detention and deportation, often with little consideration to their communal and familial ties, and little attention to their contributions to the societies in which they live. The rise of xenophobia and anti-migrant sentiment worldwide has only exacerbated this problem, resulting in states cracking down on irregular migrants who are deemed “undesirable” in public discourses, often overlooking the states’ own responsibility in creating and sustaining, and benefiting from irregularity.

Civil society in different regions of the world has put a strong call to stop criminalizing migrants. In Puerto Vallarta, civil society called governments to provide flexible and accessible pathways out of irregularity non-confined by employment, to expand humanitarian visas and family reunification options, and to put an end to the widespread practice of immigration detention.

Two years later, and one year after the adoption of the Global Compact on Migration, the PGA building upon this previous body of knowledge and with a lens to action, will analyze and create unity in action around the following:

  • How has the discourse around the de-criminalization of migration evolved over the past two years both at the global and national levels? Are there any success stories to be found?
  • What lessons can civil society learn from this? What are some achievable targets and what strategies can we collectively employ to contribute to the decriminalization of migration worldwide?


The voluntariness of “voluntary” returns has often been put into question by civil society activists who have brought the forefront various situations in which migrants feel compelled to return to their countries of origin as result of the lack of serious alternatives. Using concepts such as voluntary returns often mask how these returns are in fact forced deportations.

Countries of destination by contrast have insisted on the need for greater international cooperation on return, exercising more pressure on countries of origin, through multilateral and bilateral processes, to expedite and facilitate the readmissions of their nationals. This has raised multiple concerns over the way these returns are carried out and over the violation of the principles of non- refoulment and due process.

By contrast, in countries where migrant workers are tied to their employers, migrants are often deprived from the right to return. Various requirements for exit visas and/ or requirements to complete the work contract, mean that migrant workers find themselves in situation of bonded labor and suffer from various rights violation. In this context, more needs to be done to ensure that migrants have the right to return.

This breakout group will discuss returns in the two aspects and attempt to strategize around the following:

  • How has the discourse around returns evolved over the past two years both at the global and national levels? What are the most alarming practices, and what safeguards need to be put in place?
  • What lessons can civil society learn from this? What are some achievable targets and what strategies can we collectively employ to contribute to a rights-based conversation around returns?

Labour Migration:

According to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers, which covers the period between 2013 and 2017, in 2017, migrant workers accounted for 164 million of the world’s approximately 258 million international migrants. Migrant workers cover more than 63 per cent of the entire estimated population of international migrants.

Fractions of reality from different regions show how the plight of migrant workers in all stages of migration continues to be rampant. With this, there is a shared concern for ratification and effective implementation of international standards on labour. These standards include the freedom of association and collective bargaining, decent work, fair and ethical recruitment, as well as promoting flexibility and mobility in the labour market.

Delinking the status of migrant workers from that of their employers, allowing workers to terminate employment and change sponsors, access to justice and redress, as well as including migrant workers under national labour laws are some of what civil society has been advocating. It is also essential to call for accountability of all actors to uphold the right of migrant workers to organize and to strengthen labour inspection of migrant workers from all sectors.

Currently, there have been initiatives at different levels and partnerships from different actors to address specific issues on labour migration. This breakout group will discuss labour migration in around the following:

  • What are the existing initiatives and practices that attempt to address different issues within labour migration? What has been the impact and has it been effective?
  • Given the current political climate and considering the known challenges and gaps on labour migration, what could be possible ways to collectively move forward at different levels?