Migration for Sustainable Development: Social Transformations, Media Narratives and Education

When, local time: 
Wednesday, 6 July 2016 -
9:30am to 7:30pm
Where: 
France, Paris
Type of Event: 
Category 8-Symposium
Contact: 
Anna Maria Majlöf , am.majlof@unesco.org

UNESCO and the Tolerance Centre will organize a conference on "Migration for Sustainable Development: Social Transformations, Media Narratives and Education" at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 6 July 2016. The conference responds to the ongoing challenges related to the increasing refugee flows all over the world, sources of profound transformations in origin, transit and destination countries alike. Media across the refugee chain are concerned by this phenomenon and its far-reaching repercussions. The conference will identify key shortfalls in media coverage of refugees and migrants and point to concrete actions, and will identify drivers/push factors leading to migration, such as global environment change and insecurity.

Two workshops will be organized :

Workshop 1: Improving Public Perceptions of Refugees: Media Narratives and Education
(9:30 am - 1 pm)

The conference responds to the ongoing challenges related to the increasing refugee flows all over the world. Media across the refugee chain are naturally concerned by this phenomenon and its far-reaching repercussions. However, it is common ground that information exchange for and between refugees is almost non-existing in traditional media outlets. The dominant narratives fail to capture the complexity of the phenomenon – the different causes, identities and itineraries – often resulting in prejudices, amalgamations and simplifications that ignore the needs of the concerned groups.

There is a trend of overemphasizing the real or perceived challenges of refugees for destination countries while omitting to acknowledge the manifold positive contributions of refugees. This trend has been accentuated by the magnitude of current refugee flows, providing in many destination and transit countries fertile ground for the resurgence of stereotypes and prejudices against refugees, particularly those with a distinctly different cultural, ethnic or religious identity. The traditional media have often been receptive of such representations, portraying the stories in sometimes defensive ways. Lack of correct information, wrong perceptions, misinterpretations and false expectations seem to prevail. Reversing the communication feeds is one of the essential elements in deconstructing the complex refugee story.

UNESCO’s response to refugees and migrants challenges draws on the philosophy of its Constitution which places the promotion of the respect for human rights and the freedom of information as cornerstones of the Organization’s action. Consequently, the workshop will identify key shortfalls in media coverage of refugees and migrants and point to concrete actions.

Workshop 2: Migration and Social Transformations (15:00-17:30)

Migration constitutes a priority thematic orientation within the newly adopted comprehensive strategy for UNESCO’s intergovernmental science programme on Management of Social Transformations (MOST).

The “drivers” of migration – causal factors, motivations, structural conditions, “push” and “pull” factors etc. – constitute a research-driven issue of great policy relevance on which there is extensive literature. However, despite the wealth of available analysis and evidence and its direct policy relevance, the implications of research are, generally speaking, poorly reflected in policy agendas.
Within its general mandate to strengthen the nexus between research and policy, MOST proposes therefore to bring together selected experts in order to offer UNESCO permanent delegations and other policy stakeholders an opportunity to consider how improved understanding of the very diverse forms and patterns and migration can inform more appropriate policies.

It is important to note that most migrants are not refugees, do not cross state borders, and remain within the global South. A differentiated understanding of migration dynamics, informed by research, is one necessary contribution to policy development. It follows that, among well-recognized drivers, attention needs to be paid to environmental change, conflict and global inequalities, but also to routine non-emergency migration, especially within areas of free or semi-free movement.

In order to discuss these issues systematically, the conference will gather academic experts from various regions, representatives of the International Organization for Migration, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Council of Europe and other international bodies.