Thursday, August 27, 2015

How can we address the causes of migration effectively?

The current migration crisis is a Green issue. In fact, it can be argued that it is not a "crisis" (in the sense of a temporary deviation from the normal) at all, but is the new normal, with climate change a key driver, both indirectly, and in the future, directly.

So, what is the solution?

First, the rejectionist Ukip/Tory solution is no solution at all. It is physically impossible to build a Berlin Wall around the UK, or even around Europe, and failing rejectionism will inevitably turn into hate speech and hate actions.

Building physical barriers is a simplistic solution to political problems that goes back to the Great Wall of China, Hadrian's Wall, the 700 kilometre Israel West Bank Barrier/Wall, and, currently, the Great Razor Wire Fence in Hungary. These barriers are symptomatic treatments, and like all symptomatic treatments, they will in the end, fail. The only real solution to the problem is the one that addresses the root causes of the problem.

The underlying causes are fourfold:

  1. War
  2. Governments that abuse human rights
  3. Poverty
  4. Climate change

War, and its aftermath, is responsible for most migration movements into Europe. Iraq, Syria and, Afghanistan are major contributors to the total numbers.

Eritrea's post-war military government with its totalitarian control drives many young Eritreans to leave. We must not forget also that Burma's military regime is driving the a huge proportion of the Rohingya people into boats.

Many others, especially Africans, are trying to escape poverty. It is wrong to believe Tory tabloid editors and Ministers when they portray these people as merely making a lifestyle choice. They are fleeing extreme poverty, and this pattern will increase as climate change places further pressure on food prices.

A study by Richard Seager of Columbia University shows that climate change  is a factor in the Syrian conflict, primarily through drought affecting food production.

So, migration is a symptom of war, governments that abuse human rights, poverty and climate change. There are two opposing conclusions that we can draw from this.

Some will just want to give up, or try with increasing desperation and anger to pull up the drawbridge.
The other approach, the humane and rational response, is to work out and apply global solutions to what is a global problem.

The Green Party, and indeed all rational thinkers, should be at the forefront of the second approach, which deserves a name to identify itself. I would propose simply to call it "the New Globalisation", in order to distinguish it from economic Globalisation which is well known, and lies behind much that is wrong in the world, as Caroline Lucas and Mike Woodin showed in their book Green Alternatives to Globalisation in 2004.

It is now time for greens, and indeed, all thinkers and politicians who prefer to deal in realities rather than knee-jerk reactions, to start looking at these global problems and coming up with answers. And answers do exist. The process will be long and slow, measured in decades rather than months or years, but the journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step, and the time to start is now.

The majority of current wars are due to dictators, Islamism and separatism.

Dictatorships can be inhibited by the Green Party's Global Human Rights Index.

Islamism is a bit of a difficult problem that deserves a post all to itself, but the essential principle of treatment is that if we stop bombing Islamic countries, there is a chance that they will stop bombing us (and also other Islamic people: we must remember that jihadis kill far more Muslims than they kill "Christians" and Jews).

The third most important cause of current wars, separatism, is an issue that can usefully be addressed by the United Nations.

There are many other actions that can be taken to reduce the impact of conflict on people. Peace Direct is an excellent organisation that supports local people who take action to stop conflict. There have been successful agreements that will inhibit the arms trade. Attention could fruitfully switch now to the control of ammunition. (See PD434 in Green Party policies here).

So if we wish to address migration, we need to address the problem of war and dictators with their attendant human rights abuses. What of the other promoters of migration, which are poverty and climate change? Again there are solutions available, and again the solutions assist each other.

Poverty is complex, intimately interwoven with environmental issues, but one of the key insights is that poor countries tend to be hot countries, that is, countries with plentiful resources of solar energy. Solar energy offers to help poor countries, not just on a small scale, but also on a large scale, since large solar arrays and Concentrated Solar Power  will turn hitherto poor countries into net exporters of energy.

Development patterns that promote equality will reduce the pressure to migrate.

The points made here are not exhaustive. There are many other issues to be considered, and as ever, if we do not manage to get a handle on human population growth we are not going to get very far with any progress.

In conclusion, the only way to manage the "migration crisis" is to address the global causes of migration - war, dictatorship, poverty and environmental degradation. These are global problems, but we live in a small world, and a new programme of action, a New Globalisation that addresses humanitarian and environmental issues, is the only effective way forward.

See also:
The Conservatives' cod psychology about migration
How to resolve the problem at Calais
Dictators are the main cause of war in 2015
Rohingya: getting to the source of the problem


Brian said...

Well argued; but two points: "New Globalisation" - why not "New Localism"? We ned to end the mad, unnecessary movement of goods and raw materials over vast distances; share knowledge freely, globally, but minimise unnecessary global movement of goods.
Also, behind all this is the psychopathic 'Money Masters' nearing their ultimate goal of global corporate control. (See George Monbiot and others on this.)

Richard Lawson said...

Hi Brian, thanks for commenting. I am not worried about what we call it, so long as we do it. The old slogan was, "Think clobally, act locally", which is good, but our global thinking is a bit deficient. The Green Party does not have much to say about the UN - for instance, the UNSC desperately needs reforming, but we do not seem (last time I looked) to have a model. It was noticeable that the Global Index of Human Rights was absent from this year's manifesto.

Yes, "globalisation" does involve unnecessary transportation. The point is, they have globalised trade only too successfully. We need to globalise high standards of human rights, justice and sustainability. The profit motive has successfully driven their globalisation. We need to find the motivation for our new globalisation - whatever we call it, "global solidarity" is another suggestion - and I am suggesting that the migration that we are seeing will perhaps trigger the general public to take an interest in making the whole world a more equitable place to live.