U.S. Mission Geneva,
January 28, 2016
Good morning, everybody.
I’ll be brief because our objective is to get right to work and hear from you, leaders of civil society organizations.
But before we do, I would like to thank Ambassador Rebong, who’s been to several of these consultations, demonstrating the strong commitment of the Philippines to the protection of migrants. Thank you, Cecilia, we all have a lot to learn from what is done by your country.
Thank you, also, to the MICIC Secretariat for its support and its work in putting today’s event together.
And finally, a big thank you to all of you who have come here today to share what works — and maybe what’s not yet working — when it comes to protecting and assisting migrants caught in countries experiencing conflicts or natural disasters.
I said it at our last consultation with the private sector: There are things outside our control, things like natural disasters. Typhoon Haiyan, and most recently the earthquake in Nepal, are painful reminders of how small we stand in front of Mother Nature. And no country is spared.
But I think you’ll agree that we can better prepare for, respond to, and recover from these disasters. And the same is true for conflicts. We can and must be better prepared to protect all people affected by future crises, particularly those, like migrants, who risk falling through the cracks.
And that’s where you, civil society organizations, come into play. The complexity of the challenges facing us requires collective effort across public and private sectors, from large government-led response to individual efforts in the community. This is especially true at a time when we’re witnessing disheartening narratives related to migrants and migration.
The United States — as a matter of policy and as a matter of values — strongly believes in the promotion of civil society. The importance of civil society activities and partnership was reemphasized at a recent gathering of various U.S. interagency government actors in Washington to discuss our own response systems in the context of MICIC.
You know the local environments, contexts, and resources better than most other stakeholders. And, quite frankly, you are best placed to guide the populations you serve through government response systems that can be complicated and confusing for non-nationals in an unfamiliar environment.
Some of you represent large, international NGOs with vast assistance programs across the globe. Others work on a smaller scale. But you share common goals and have a real impact on migrants’ lives, which makes you critical advocates, service providers and partners on the ground.
Partnerships — I can’t emphasize enough — are central to the MICIC initiative. I see our joint efforts in this venture to better protect migrants in times of crises as an important building block in reinforcing the relationship and cooperation between government and civil society actors.
When governments and civil society organizations come together in the interest of humanity, our protection power is immense. Together, we can work to ensure that no migrant is left to fend for him or herself in the face of crises.
Thank you for your active participation, and I very much look forward to hearing the outcomes of these discussions.