Page 21 - Foreign Service Journal - March 2013

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MARCH 2013
In addressing large-scale human mobility, the goal should be to promote
human development and stability—not just respond to crises.
began as such. Many of these have involved, at least in part, an
ethnic element, which tends to keep the fghting going for long
periods. Tat reality also complicates national reconciliation
eforts after the formal confict ends.
Because mass migrations, particularly those associated
with conficts, are often seen as potential security threats, they
tend to receive a lot of media attention, at least initially. Tis
is particularly true when large numbers of forcibly displaced
people fee into neighboring countries. We are seeing this in
the current infux of Syrian refugees into Turkey, Jordan, Leba-
non and Iraq, and the fight of Malian refugees to Mauritania,
Burkina Faso, Niger and Algeria.
A Holistic Approach
Given the need to conduct peacebuilding and address the
developmental impact of large-scale population displace-
ments, a holistic approach is required to return stability to a
country or region engulfed in confict, create the conditions
for peace, and prevent the recurrence or spread of hostilities.
Te international response must also balance the individual
right to fee danger and desire to seek a better life against each
nation’s sovereign right to determine who enters and remains
within its borders.
For that reason, a multilateral, multifaceted approach is
usually more useful than traditional bilateral diplomacy. Tis
William Lacy Swing has been director general of the International
Organization for Migration since 2008 and was the 2012 winner of
AFSA’s Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award. A
member of the Foreign Service for 38 years, he served as ambassador
to the Republic of the Congo (1979-1981), Liberia (1981-1985), South
Africa (1989-1992), Nigeria (1992-1993), Haiti (1993-1998) and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (1998-2001).
After retiring from the Foreign Service in 2001, Ambassador Swing
served the United Nations as Special Representative to the Secretary-
General for Western Sahara and Chief of Mission for the U.N. Mission
for the Referendum in Western Sahara (2001-2003), and Special
Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic
of the Congo (2003-2008).
ifty years ago, when I began my diplomatic
career, migration (also known as large-scale
human mobility), including refugees and inter-
nally displaced persons, was not a prominent
issue for many of us in the Foreign Service.
Today, however, frequent intrastate armed
conficts, persistent natural and human disasters, and the
efects of climate change compel virtually all governments and
international organizations to pay close attention to the large-
scale movement of persons, whether forced or voluntary.
Tis evolution in diplomatic thinking and foreign policy
priorities refects a new foreign policy reality: namely, that we
live in an era of unprecedented human mobility. Consider this
statistic: A billion people—one in every seven persons cur-
rently alive—are migrants.
Te drivers of human mobility are such that large-scale
migration will continue to be a “mega-trend” in the 21st
century. Indeed, a U.S. National Intelligence Council report,
“Global Trends 2030” (published last December) predicts that
“international migration is set to grow even faster than it did in
the past quarter-century.” It will therefore become increasingly
important for diplomats to address the crises that accompany
large-scale population movements.
Tis development is in large part a function of population
growth. Te 20th century marked the frst time in recorded
history that the global population quadrupled within a human
lifetime, a phenomenon unlikely to occur again. Within this
overall picture of growth, however, there are areas of demo-
graphic decline. Te European Union, for instance, is likely
to require 40 million more workers by mid-century than its
population will be able to supply.
Other drivers of migration include labor shortages and
demands; growing North-South economic and social dispari-
ties; the digital revolution; distance-shrinking technologies;
persistent disasters; and personal dreams and ambitions.
whether these are induced by wars or natural disasters.
Most of the 100-plus armed conficts that have broken out
across the globe since World War II were intrastate afairs—
conficts within the boundaries of a single state—or at least