SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO – On May 9th and 10th a joint symposium on migration, was convened under the auspices of the Social Economic Councils (SERs) of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten. The two-day event was held at Avila Beach Hotel on Curacao. For this occasion, the institutions invited government officials and stakeholders from all three countries to participate in discussions and to share experiences and best practices on the topic of migration.
In his opening speech the Prime Minister of Curacao, the honorable Eugene Rhuggenaath expressed the need for the countries of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten, to continue to work together in order to find solutions for some of the common challenges within the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom.
The honorable Prime Minister of Aruba, Evelyn Wever-Croes, and the honorable Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, Leona Marlin-Romeo both agreed that the symposium took place at the right time: a time when the number of international migrants is higher than ever before.
From the U.S.-Mexico border and the ongoing Venezuela exodus, the current mass movement of people seeking a safer and more prosperous home is making headlines across the world. Sint Maarten is no stranger to migration as the number of immigrant arrivals has increased over the years.
Many of whom are dealing with great economic hardship in their respective countries. The issue of whether migration is economically beneficial can quickly become an emotional discussion at times in our community.
The keynote speakers were representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC), United Nations High Commissioner Refugee (UNHCR), the Canadian Embassy in Bogota, the University of Curaçao, the University of St. Martin and the Think To DO Institute of Curacao.
The President of the University of St. Martin, Prof. dr. Antonio Carmona Báez presented a review of current border issues, demographics and migratory patterns as it relates to the hybrid systems of higher education and accreditation across the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Special attention was given to the case of Sint Maarten and its peculiar bond to other English-speaking islands within the Kingdom, as well as with its largely migrant-based student body, which allowed participants to consider how education policies may impact the future of socio-economic development in the region.
During the presentations and discussions, topics such as: human mobility, economics, work, employment, integration, insecurity, diversity and minorities, as well as culture, the legal and political aspects, were recurring highlights. Participants were also given the opportunity to sign up online and partake in a survey. The purpose of the survey was for the participants to express their views on migrants. The results of the online survey propelled interesting discussions.
On the second day, the symposium centered around the Caribbean perspective on effective migration policies. Short presentations were given by various speakers followed by breakout sessions where it was discussed how Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten can best govern migration to enhance sustainable socioeconomic development.
The topics of the five breakout sessions were:
‘Reaping the benefits and minimizing the cost of migration’; ‘Migration is a tool to safeguard the socioeconomic model of the Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten (ACS)-countries: migration approaches revisited’; ‘Brain drain and brain gain: a matter of reversing the coin?’; ‘Changing the narrative on migrants’ and ‘Informal and formal labor market approaches: towards win-win- approaches’.
Prior to the conclusion of the symposium, a panel discussion took place, during which different stakeholders were given the opportunity to share their views on the social economic challenges and potential benefits of migration. It was agreed that migrants have contributed to the cultural diversity, the economic and social development of the three countries.
In addition, migration once managed properly, can be seen as a catalyst contributing factor to sustainable development of countries. The Prime Ministers of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten welcomed this platform to pursue the development and implementation of a migration policy based on each country’s own migration realities and capacities, providing that safety, dignity and human rights are protected at all times.
The SER of Sint Maarten will present its findings in a report which will be presented to the honorable Prime Minister Leona Marlin-Romeo, the Chairperson of Parliament and all relevant stakeholders.
For more information on the joint symposium visit our website www.sersxm and the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Migration-Symposium-330723910971202/