An Open Letter to the International Committee of the World Social Forum on Migrations in Manila, Philippines

We note that you have posted a draft of the so-called “Manila Declaration of the 5th WSFM” in the event’s official website, a document that was first presented in the final hours of November 29’s plenary session of the forum. As participants in the said event, the undersigned organizations express grave reservations regarding the issuance of this Manila Declaration, for the following reasons:

1. Contextually, we appreciate the WSFM to be mainly a vehicle for discussion among widely diverse organizations and individuals in the migration discourse, and thus it can lay no enduring claim to homogeneity in advocacy principles or courses of action. Due to the political broadness of the WSFM’s participant base and its avowed adherence to the CSO principle of pluralism, we find it very inappropriate that a document amounting to a virtual “Declaration of Unity” has been foisted on this highly diverse mass of participants, and without the benefit of proper time and space for such “unification”. A more fitting document for the occasion would have been an executive summary of activities that synthesizes recommendations from each workshop, which were the highest level of  general unities  that the WSFM can rightfully lay a claim to having fostered in this event.

2. We also note with apprehension that the Declaration’s reference to the GFMD and its paradigm remains unchanged, despite the fact that interventions from the floor and in the HLD workshop on November 29 have consistently manifested many participants’ concern to have the WSFM take up a more critical position vis-à-vis the GFMD and its migration for development line. Stating descriptively  that “National governments and international organizations such as the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration and the GFMD have focused attention on remittances and migration management as contributing to development” does not even remotely reflect the participants’ critical concern on this matter.

3. The whole process whereby the Declaration was deliberated on and initially “approved” by the WSFM’s participants was seriously flawed. No copies of the draft were circulated to the participants prior to the floor deliberations, and there was a pronounced lack of transparency in the presentation of the document. We find the stated reason for not allowing participants to go over the LCD-projected draft thoroughly (i.e., it will take too much time) to be unacceptable, given the implications of the document’s contents and the need to ensure procedural integrity in generating such sweeping “unities” as the document contains.

We also would like to take exception to the viva voce and hand-raising methods employed in this particular plenary as a marked departure from the spirit of inclusiveness and consensus-building that the WSFM had nurtured in the past. Furthermore, these were done at a time when large numbers of participants were no longer present in the plenary hall, and in a pressured atmosphere wherein emphasis was already being made on having the Declaration approved with dispatch.

4. While there is no mention that the draft Declaration is referring to a specific 5-year plan, we believe that the document circulated during the HLD workshop and entitled, “A Civil Society Proposal for a Negotiated Outcome in the Form of a 5-Year action Plan at the 2013 UN HLD” is closely linked to point number 29 in the Declaration which says, “Towards this end, we call on the upcoming UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development to adhere to a 5-year action plan that advances protections of the human rights of migrants, and links to a post-2015 development agenda that affirms the right to migrate and remain at home with decent work and human security”. This point was merely brushed aside when it was raised on the floor, and for us this indicates a short-changing of the democratic process necessary for the owning up of the Declaration by a majority, if not all, of the WSFM’s participants.

There was also no extensive and exhaustive discussion by all the participants on the content of the “5-point agenda” that was being referred to by the document, one which commits WSFM’s participants in general to supporting positions which they are not collectively privy to. This matter was only taken up in the UN HLD workshop that was held in the afternoon of November 29, and not in the plenary session as should have been the case.

For these and other reasons, the undersigned organizations declare that we do not support the so-called “Manila Declaration” of the 5th WSFM. We request the Secretariat to exclude our respective organizations from any list of signatories to this document, and even in the enumeration of 118 organizations that are implied as being behind the Declaration. We still abide by our previous assertion that the only clear unities arrived at in this WSFM are the workshop recommendations – nothing more, nothing less.


Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) – Asia Pacific

Action Network for Marriage Migrants’ Rights and Empowerment (AMMORE) – Asia Pacific

Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho – Mexico

Comitato Immigrati in Italia – Italy Association of Concerned Filipinos (ACFIL) – Hong Kong

Filipino Migrant Workers’ Union (FMWU) – Hong Kong

Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Union (IMWU) – Hong Kong

Asosiasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (ATKI) – Hong Kong

LIKHA Cultural Group – Hong Kong

Palawan Migrants’ Association (PMA) – Hong Kong

Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines (APDP) – Australia

Philippines-Australia Cultural Interaction Network (PACIN) – Australia

National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, Southern California (NAFCON-SoCal) – USA

Kalipunan ng mga Filipinong Nagkakaisa (KAFIN) – Japan

Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) – Philippines

Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) – Philippines

Gabriela Women’s Partylist (GWP) – Philippines

Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) – Philippines

Concerned Mothers’ League (CML) – Philippines

Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (SAMAKANA) – Philippines

International Migration Resource Center (IMRC) – Philippines

Kalipunan ng Migranteng Pilipino at Pamilya (KMPP) – Philippines

Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center (CBBRC) – Philippines

Urban Poor Resource Center (UPRC) – Philippines

Working for Empowerment and Good Governance Institute, Inc. (WeGovern Institute) – Philippines

Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA-Philippines)

Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) – Philippines

Lila Pilipina – Philippines

ProGay – Philippines

Simple Share Buttons
Simple Share Buttons