Ex-WTO Chief Sutherland: Making Migration Work

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 6/08/2010 12:01:00 AM
To its discredit, the fixation of Western media on the ongoing economic crisis obscures the truth that the cost of dealing with the crisis will be a pittance compared to dealing with demographic changes. Indeed, the IMF has estimated that these changes will impose fiscal burdens on industrialized states ten times greater than those borne of the credit mess. In typical media hyperbole, was the economic crisis the game-changer that swept all before it into a brave new world?

It wasn't, really. If demographic considerations are taken into account, the fundamental facts remain intact that dependency ratios--those not in the labour force (drawing benefits) to those in the labour force (contributing to revenues)--are set to rise in a way industrialized countries cannot manage given current trajectories. While migration is the obvious answer, barriers are aplenty given barely concealed racial intolerance in any number of industrialized countries. Witness Rand Paul, the latest in a very long parade of race-baiters.

However, Peter Sutherland, the first WTO Director-General and currently chairperson of the LSE, has some sensible suggestions on how this situation can be remedied via a multicultural approach. What follows is the abstract of "The Age of Mobility: Can We Make Migration Work for All?" though the entire piece is well worth reading especially for those with an interest in migration. (It appears in Global Policy, our new in-house journal which I'm excited about.) My only qualm is that he didn't mention how the WTO he previously helmed can be made to recognize LDCs' legitimate interests in implementing WTO provisions concerning temporary migration which rich countries--most notably the USA--have vigorously blocked discussion of and have contributed to the derailing of the WTO Doha Development Agenda:
It is tempting to say that the economic crisis has “changed everything.” Public finances have been dealt a sharp blow. The job market is in turmoil, with unemployment reaching or exceeding quarter-century peaks in the developed world. A disruption like this can cause paralysis in public policy, especially in complex areas such as migration. The aim of this article is to focus on issues that will demand our attention and our investments over the next few years in order to overcome any such possible paralysis. It begins by highlighting a few of the more relevant and interesting trends related to migration. It then offers a survey of the current state of migration policy on the international stage, focusing on the recent marriage of migration and development, one of the most promising advances we’ve witnessed in international relations over the past few years. This has helped foster relationships of understanding and trust between countries that once considered themselves to have competing agendas in the migration game, and might now offer a crucial means of managing migration tensions that could otherwise boil over. The second part of the article offers some ideas for future policy. As we endure a deep recession, the cohesion of our societies will face new challenges, and those on the margins—especially immigrants—will be subject to greater discrimination. We need to use this opportunity to embrace the realities of immigration by reshaping our institutions so that they address the needs of our diverse, 21st century societies.