Ref. :  000001804
Date :  2001-09-10
Language :  English
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Author :  Rada Iveković

In the mass migratory phenomena which take place throughout the world (migrations within a country, or a region, or internationally), the construction of an ethnicisation and a racialisation promoting the dominant interests can be seen. For these are, in general, Southern or Third world populations, as well as migrants who are naturalised and tribalised. ‘The nation is ours, what is yours is ethnicity; we are globalising, whilst you are fragmenting ; our way is democracy, yours violence.’

Migrants of today all blur together: political refugees can no longer be distinguished from various refugees chased away by war or economic migrants. The 1951 Geneva Convention (United Nations) on political refugees and not refusing them entry is today out of date in tackling the question because it does not give any active role (any statute of subject) to the person concerned (an organisation will decide for them) ; since it supposes that only state is behind the threats from which an individual flees ; and since war or extreme poverty are not acknowledged as able to be at the origin of a request for political asylum. Throughout the decades of war in post-Yugoslavia : the European states and the European Union did everything within their powers to apply the Convention restrictively, and only took in migrants requesting asylum unwillingly and in numbers well below their capacities (to ensure their own comfort or, more likely, their imagined security). On the contrary, the populations of European countries were more disposed to take in asylum seekers than their governments.

Whilst the number of migrants grows exponentially throughout the world, regional integration like that of Europe or of the future FTAA do not yet seem ready to conceive or construct their citizenship policies accordingly, but instead they seek to hold back the arrivals and to ‘protect’ themselves with preventative strategies. And if genocide was able, in the past, to require the establishment of the state to redress the wrongs suffered by its victims (the Jews, to whom Israel was ceded) in the case of another genocide, that of Rwanda, Africa of the Great Lakes had no other choice than to keep the victimised populations in their region, spreading the original violence out over a good half a dozen countries and tearing apart their societies.

Whilst the Southern populations, former colonies of the Third World, countries from the former ‘Eastern Block’ and the undesirables of the North have more and more trouble moving about freely and individually to a better life – due to their general pauperisation and the prohibitive visa systems of wealthy countries –, considerable numbers are thus constrained. The movements of the poor first affect the region and the nearest countries, and move only a tiny number of the most desperate or perseverant, carried on the waves of fortune destined to be smashed against the rocks of the land of plenty. Walls rise up before these unfortunates (as in Mexico). But capitals move unimpeded to the cheapest workforce. New technologies allow the most fortunate to travel virtually. A truly transnational and cosmopolitan elite of executives, industrialists, bankers, specialists, politicians and the privileged travel when they want to. For them, it has become totally banal. Ever growing hoards of tourists hunt down ‘tribal’ life (that thus they reproduce) practice on their side ‘evasion’, digging further and further into the ditch. The rich increasingly travel as they please (even by space shuttle) — the rest remain constrained by the perverse effects of economic and financial globalisation. The planet is growing ever smaller for some, and increasingly out of the reach of others, for whom food, water and even air are becoming scarce, not to mention housing, education and healthcare.

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