"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter"
Martin Luther King
The world is becoming increasingly connected: persons, goods, capitals, services and ideas travel more and more freely. Migration is an asset and an opportunity for both countries of origin and host countries. Diaspora communities contribute to the development of commercial links, business relations, and transfer of knowledge. As such, Diasporas are a very useful social, cultural and economic bridge between countries.
The role of diasporas in the management of the migration issues is crucial. Migrants are confronted with various administrative, bureaucratic and financial obstacles, including the erroneous perception of "danger" that has been associated with them. It is essential to "detoxify" this perception of migration and valorise the advantages that migrants can represent for our societies. In order to better benefit from the opportunities that migration offers, countries should work with relevant stakeholders: diasporas and their associations, authorities from the host and origin countries, as well as with NGOs.
The Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies of the PACE was founded during a Conference in Lisbon on 7-8 September 2017, and represents the result of almost twenty years' work of the PACE on diaspora issues. It acts as a platform for establishing and developing political dialogue and co-operation as well as exchanging information and good practices between the parliamentarians who are interested in diaspora related issues, as well as diaspora associations both at national and international levels.
The Network will give a new sense to the term "diaspora", by bringing people together freely with the humanistic purpose of uniting the intellectual potential to work for a better life in Europe.
The biggest challenge for the Network is to promote the integration of diasporas in the host countries, while allowing them to also preserve links with their countries of origin. Sometimes tensions occur between the countries of origin and host countries, which makes it difficult to achieve true integration. It is important that diasporas also stay loyal to their host country. Only then can they play the role of a bridge between the host and origin countries. Insufficient political, administrative and financial support from both host and origin countries also impedes diaspora involvement and participation in the local society.
The Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies was launched as a follow up to the Assembly's Recommendation 1410 (1999) on "Links between Europeans living abroad and their countries of origin" and Recommendation 1890 (2009) on "Engaging European Diasporas: the need for governmental and intergovernmental responses", as well as Resolution 1696 (2009) on the same topic and Resolution 2043 (2015) on "Democratic participation for migrant diasporas" which considered that the Assembly "could act as a platform for developing a parliamentary dialogue on diaspora participation by proposing the creation of a parliamentary network on diaspora policies".
The network mainly focuses its work on exchanges and cooperation with members of parliaments, diaspora associations, and state institutions from the countries of origin and host countries of migrants, with the aim of building inclusive societies through the introduction and implementation of national diaspora policies. The main task of the Network is to promote policy and legislative reforms with respect to Diasporas' roles in both the host society and country of origin.
The Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) held its latest Conference in Tbilisi, on 16 December 2019.
Mr Duarte MARQUES (Portugal, EPP/CD). During the second regional meeting held in Kyiv on 24 September, Duarte Marques (Portugal, EPP/CD) was appointed Coordinator of the Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies.
Mr Marques expressed his gratitude to members of the Sub-Committee on Diasporas of the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons for their trust, and thanked Andrea Rigoni, the outgoing Coordinator, on behalf of the Network, the sub-committee, and the PACE Parliamentary Projects Support Division, for his work and dedication to the Diaspora Network.
"Policies for diasporas are sorely needed. The expertise of the Council of Europe together with national parliamentarians and diaspora associations can help ensure that new policies promote the inclusion of diasporas in host societies, while protecting their right to be different. Establishing a Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies « is therefore a timely one, to enable states to come together and exchange ideas and examples of best practice in this area", Tomáš Bocek, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees.
"Diaspora, or transnational communities, play an important role when it comes to connecting countries and communities across the world. Now is a timely opportunity to influence this policy discourse. There is a growing willingness among governments and other partners to engage with the diaspora." H.E. William Lacy Swing, Director General, International Organization for Migration.
"Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies is an institutional platform for exchanging experiences. I therefore hope that it will quickly become a real international centre of expertise on diasporas, bringing together the European standards drawn up by the Council of Europe and the national and local experiences of our organisation's member and partner states," René Rouquet, Vice-President of the PACE, in Lisbon today in his opening speech at the conference to launch the Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies.
"Diasporas are much more than movements of people: they are a source of cultural enrichment and pluralism in host societies and countries of origin. With the launch of the Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies, the Parliamentary Assembly is providing further proof of its vitality and its commitment to contribute actively to the Council of Europe's goals." Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, Speaker of the Portuguese Parliament.
The result of almost twenty years' work of the PACE on diaspora issues thus initiated the establishment of the Parliamentary Network for Diaspora Policies in 2017.