The Economist: Three post-war liberals strove to establish the meaning of freedom

Berlin, Rawls and Nozick put their faith in the sanctity of the individual
31 August, 2018


ONE definition of a liberal is a person who supports individual rights and opposes arbitrary power. But that does not tell you which rights matter. For example, some campaigners say they want to unshackle transgender people, women and minorities from social norms, hierarchies and language that they see as tyrannical. Their opponents say that this means limiting what individuals do and say, for instance by censoring frank discussions of gender, or forbidding the emulation of minority cultures. Supporters of these kinds of “identity politics” claim to be standing up for rights against unjust power. But their opponents do, too. If both claim to be “liberal”, does the word mean much at all?

The problem is not new. Isaiah Berlin identified the crucial fault line in liberal thought in Oxford in 1958. There are supporters of “negative” liberty, best defined as freedom not to be interfered with. Negative liberties ensure that no person can seize his neighbour’s property by force or that there are no legal restrictions on speech. Then there are backers of “positive” liberty, which empowers individuals to pursue fulfilling, autonomous lives—even when doing so requires interference. Positive liberty might arise when the state educates its citizens. It might even lead the government to ban harmful products, such as usurious loans (for what truly free individual would choose them?).

Berlin spied in positive liberty an intellectual sleight of hand which could be exploited for harm. Born in Riga in 1909, he had lived in Russia during the revolutions of 1917, which gave him a “permanent horror of violence”. In 1920 his family returned to Latvia, and later, after suffering anti-Semitism, went to Britain. As his glittering academic career progressed, Europe was ravaged by Nazism and communism.

Under positive liberty the state is justified in helping people overcome their internal, mental vices. That lets government decide what people really want, regardless of what they say. It can then force this on them in the name of freedom. Fascists and communists usually claim to have found a greater truth, an answer to all ethical questions, which reveals itself to those who are sufficiently adept. Who, then, needs individual choice? The risk of a perversion of liberty is especially great, Berlin argued, if the revealed truth belongs to a group identity, like a class or religion or race.

To reject positive liberty is not to reject all government, but to acknowledge that trade-offs exist between desirable things. What, for example, of the argument that redistributing money to the poor in effect increases their freedom to act? Liberty must not be confused with “the conditions of its exercise”, Berlin replied. “Liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice or culture, or human happiness or a quiet conscience.” Goals are many and contradictory and no government can infallibly pick among them. That is why people must be free to make their own choices about what constitutes good living.

Yet determining the proper sphere of that freedom has been the great challenge all along. One lodestar is the harm principle. Governments should interfere with choices only to prevent harm to others. But this is hardly a sufficient rule with which to exercise power, because there are plenty of harms that liberals typically do permit. An entrepreneur might harm an incumbent businessman by bankrupting him, for example. The most significant attempt of the 20th century to find a stronger boundary between the state and the individual was made by the Harvard philosopher John Rawls in 1971.

Rawls’s “A Theory of Justice” sold over half a million copies, reinvigorated political philosophy and anchored debates between liberals for decades to follow. It posited a thought experiment: the veil of ignorance. Behind the veil, people do not know their talents, class, gender, or even which generation in history they belong to. By thinking about what people would agree to behind the veil, Rawls thought, it is possible to ascertain what is just.

To begin with, Rawls argued, they would enshrine the most extensive scheme of inalienable “basic liberties” that could be offered on equal terms to all. Basic liberties are those rights that are essential for humans to exercise their unique power of moral reasoning. Much as Berlin thought the power to choose between conflicting ideals was fundamental to human existence, so Rawls argued that the capacity to reason gives humanity its worth. Basic liberties thus include those of thought, association and occupation, plus a limited right to hold personal property.

But extensive property rights, allowing unlimited accumulation of wealth, do not feature. Instead, Rawls thought the veil of ignorance yields two principles to regulate markets. First, there must be equality of opportunity for positions of status and wealth. Second, inequalities can be permitted only if they benefit the least well-off—a rule dubbed the “difference principle”. Wealth, if it is to be generated, must trickle all the way down. Only such a rule, Rawls thought, could maintain society as a co-operative venture between willing participants. Even the poorest would know that they were being helped, not hindered, by the success of others. “In justice as fairness”—Rawls’s name for his philosophy— “men agree to share one another’s fate.”

Rawls attributed his book’s success with the public to how it chimed with the political and academic culture, including the civil-rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam war. It demonstrated that left-wing liberalism was not dreamed up by hippies in a cloud of marijuana smoke, but could be rooted in serious philosophy. Today, the veil of ignorance is commonly used to argue for more redistribution.

Ironically, since 1971 the rich world has mostly gone in the opposite direction. Having already built welfare states, governments deregulated markets. Tax rates for the highest earners have fallen, welfare benefits have been squeezed and inequality has risen. True, the poorest may have benefited from the associated growth. But the reformers of the 1980s, most notably Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, were no Rawlsians. They would have found more inspiration in Rawls’s Harvard contemporary: Robert Nozick.

Nozick’s book “Anarchy, State and Utopia”, published in 1974, was an assault on Rawls’s idea of redistributive justice. Whereas Rawls’s liberalism relegates property rights, Nozick’s elevates them. Other forms of liberty, he argued, are excuses for the immoral coercion of individuals. People own their talents. They cannot be compelled to share their fruits.

Nozick questioned whether distributive justice is even coherent. Imagine some distribution of wealth that is deemed to be just. Next suppose that a large number of people each pay 25 cents to watch Wilt Chamberlain, then the top player in the NBA, play basketball. A new distribution would emerge, containing a very rich Mr Chamberlain. In this transition, people would have engaged in purely voluntary exchanges with resources that are properly theirs, if the initial distribution really is just. So what could be the problem with the later one? Liberty, Nozick said, disrupts patterns. Justice cannot demand some preferred distribution of wealth.

His work contributed to a philosophy in favour of small government that was blooming at the time. In 1974 Friedrich Hayek—Thatcher’s favourite thinker—won the Nobel prize in economics. Two years later it went to Milton Friedman. But although the world moved rightward, it did not shift far enough to become Nozickian. “Anarchy, State and Utopia” called for only a minimal, “nightwatchman” state to protect property rights. But vast government spending, taxation and regulation endure. Even America, despite its inequality, probably remains more Rawlsian.

Too much Utopia

Some of Rawls’s fiercest critics have been to his left. Those concerned with racial and gender inequality have often seen his work as a highfalutin irrelevance. Both Rawls and Nozick practised “ideal theory”—hypothesising about what a perfect society looks like, rather than deciding how to fix existing injustices. It is not clear, for example, whether Rawls’s principle of equality of opportunity would permit affirmative action, or any other form of positive discrimination. Rawls wrote in 2001 that the “serious problems arising from existing discrimination and distinctions are not on [justice as fairness’s] agenda.” Nozick acknowledged that his views on property rights would apply only if there had been no injustice in how property had been acquired (such as the use of slaves, or the forced seizure of land).

Rawls was also more concerned with institutions than with day-to-day politics. As a result, on today’s issues his philosophy can fire blanks. For example, feminists often say he did too little to flesh out his views on the family. His main prescription is that interactions between men and women should be voluntary. That is not much help to a movement that is increasingly concerned with social norms that are said to condition individual choices.

Rawlsianism certainly provides little to support identity politics. Today’s left increasingly sees speech as an exercise in power, in which arguments cannot be divorced from the identity of the speaker. On some university campuses conservative speakers who cast doubt on the concepts of patriarchy and white privilege, or who claim that gender norms are not arbitrary, are treated as aggressors whose speech should be prevented. The definition of “mansplaining” is evolving to encompass men expressing any opinion at length, even in writing that nobody is compelled to read. Arguments, it is said, should be rooted in “lived experience”.

This is not how a Rawlsian liberal society is supposed to work. Rawls relied on the notion that humans have a shared, disinterested rationality, which is accessible by thinking about the veil of ignorance, and is strengthened by freedom of speech. If arguments cannot be divorced from identity, and if speech is in fact a battleground on which groups struggle for power, the project is doomed from the outset.

Rawls thought that the stability of the ideal society rests on an “overlapping consensus”. Everyone must be sufficiently committed to pluralism to remain invested in the democratic project, even when their opponents are in power. The polarised politics of America, Britain and elsewhere, in which neither side can tolerate the other’s views, pushes against that ideal.

The more that group identity is elevated above universal values, the greater the threat. In America some on the left describe those who have adopted their views as “woke”. Some fans of Donald Trump—who has taken the Republican party a long way from Nozickian libertarianism—say they have been “red pilled” (a reference to the film “The Matrix”, in which a red pill lets characters realise the true nature of reality). In both cases, the language suggests some hidden wisdom that only the enlightened have discovered. It is not far from there to saying that such a revelation is necessary to be truly free—an argument that Berlin warned is an early step on the path to tyranny.

The good news is that pluralism and truly liberal values remain popular. Many people want to be treated as individuals, not as part of a group; they attend to what is being said, not just to who is saying it. Much hand-wringing about public life reflects the climate on social media and campuses, not society at large. Most students do not subscribe to radical campus leftism. Still, backers of liberal democracy would do well to remember that the great post-war liberals, in one way or another, all emphasised how individuals must be free to resist the oppression of large groups. That, surely, is where liberal thought begins.

Diversity Statement: Changing our Mindset and Understanding the Complexity of Migration

27 August, 2018

4407-CREPEAU-OE“Changing our Mindset and Understanding the Complexity of Migration”: A statement delivered by Prof. François Crépeau, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, in response to Ayelet Shachar‘s opening question at the Second Annual Goethe-Göttingen Critical Exchange Roundtable Discussion. Shahar’s opening question was: “What in your opinion, are the biggest challenges we currently face in the context of migration? How are legal institutions and other social actors – local, national, regional, transnational, or international – helping to understand and address them?”

The roundtable was chaired and moderated by Prof. Ayelet Shachar and the event was co-organized with Prof. Rainer Forst of the Normative Orders Cluster of Excellence at Goethe University Frankfurt/Main.

1. Changing our mindset: overcoming stereotypes

The biggest challenge is to change our mindset regarding migration, to change how we represent migrants.

Our most common assumptions regarding migration are too often based on stereotypes, myths and fantasies regarding the “radical difference” of the migrants.

This is most visible when we talk about “our people” migrating:  we call them “expats” or “tourists” or “executives” or “retirees”. We very rarely describe mobile people from the Global North – or even the elite 1% of the Global South – as “migrants”.

Fear of the “mobile other” seems a common thread of all settled societies throughout history, including the invention of the despised “asylum seeker” around 1982, in order to distinguish them from the good refugees who waited patiently in camps to be picked and chosen, or not.

Because of this fear, we need to remember the former kinds of migrants when we speak about migrants in a precarious situation: asylum seekers, undocumented migrants and temporary migrant workers.

Migration is in our DNA. It is a normal human behaviour. We are almost all migrants or immediate descendants of migrants. Settlement is often only generational.

It is hard to find someone who lives today in the city of birth of their four grand-parents.

We are a migrating animal species, born in Eastern Africa, and mobility has always been a normal reaction to political, economic, environmental or social stress. A few centuries of territorial sovereignty theory will not change that. A few millennia of agricultural and urban settlement will not either.

Demographers are saying that migrants represent a constant of around 3% of the human population, at any time. Around 250 million persons now.

States have never really controlled migration. Migration was socially controlled, as many communities were fearful of outsiders. But, until recently, most migrants could cross borders relatively easily. Only war or dictatorship would reduce open possibilities and spur underground smuggling markets.

States can regulate mobility and facilitate it, not stop or divert it for any long period of time. Apart from geographical considerations, migration is determined by push and pull factors that we are mostly not addressing, and it is facilitated by technological changes.

Refugees and migrants will come, no matter what–whether authorised or not, whether theorised or not.

Spending such indecent amounts of money on trying to stop migration, with such limited results and with such tragic human rights consequences, as those of EU policies in Libya, should tell us that “something is rotten in the kingdom of Denmark.”

If we want to “control” migration, the goal should be to provide migrants with appropriate tools so that most of them will use official mobility channels, a situation which would provide States with the level of information they need, allow timely security checks and reduce criminality.

2. Migrants are voiceless

Migrants in a precarious situation are voiceless in any host society, North and South, be they undocumented, or temporary migrant workers with restrictive visas, or asylum seekers.

Migrants constantly exercise agency, often have considerable underground support networks and make life-altering decisions on a regular basis, but they have no access to the political stage, as they do not vote.

Migrants rarely openly protest, contest, organise, unionise. Sticking their neck out may mean being detected by the authorities as undocumented, or identified by their employer as a troublemaker, the consequence of which may be detention and deportation. Repression creates fear, which is part of the strategy.

Young migrants, their families and communities have most often invested beyond their means in the migration project, in time, energy, money and physical or mental health.

Migrants often undertake this migration project guided by a sense of duty or simply by love for their family: they have the moral high ground of any survival strategy and this is why stopping migration will fail. The migration project is central to their life and they cannot go back empty-handed.

Anything that threatens the migration project is dangerous. Speaking up, protesting, fighting for your rights is dangerous. “Moving on” is most often the preferred strategy.

Two structural issues prevent migrants, even with their enormous agency, from securing better opportunities.

3. Structural limitations of electoral democracy

The best political system we have ever invented to govern ourselves is based on electoral incentive. Migrants provide none and politicians are able to ignore them, when approaching migration policy from their perspective might trigger a negative electoral reaction.

Policies on migration are mostly made by non-migrants, for the benefit of non-migrants, and without consultation of migrants. The absence of such migrants from public policy debates means such debates are not informed by the experience of those most affected, and they are therefore based on stereotypes, threats and fantasies, as was the case when committees of men made policies about women or committees of straight people make rules governing homosexuality.

Anti-migration nationalist populist rhetoric is thriving because it goes mainly uncontradicted at the political level. It construed a dangerous migrant, who would steal jobs, bring illnesses, export the violence and poverty of their home country, change “our values”, and destroy “our” democratic ideals and practices.

Most such assertions are contradicted or relativised by social science. Changes brought by the passing of generations are much more important than changes brought by migration. Think about divorce, abortion and same-sex marriage.

Such stereotypes and fantasies fuel the nationalist populist agenda and discourse, reinforcing negative public perceptions of migrants and increasing the pressure in favour of ever more repressive policies, in a very vicious downward spiral. Most mainstream politicians do not risk their political career trying to contradict such stereotypes. The best ones will stay silent.

One example is the systematic use of the comparison between territory and private property: dining club, front door / back door. The comparison is never with cities, which embrace mobility and diversity without the need of “securitising” their own borders, while still policing their territory.

Historically, marginalised groups – women, indigenous peoples, gays and lesbians, persons with disabilities, detainees – have had to wrestle their rights from the hands of the self-righteous majority through political mobilisation and legal challenges based on “equal citizenship”. Many have been fighting long battles to push back on the stereotypes. See the recent #MeToo movement.

Unless and until migrants gain some electoral traction, most politicians are not going to pay much attention.

We shall have to think about providing voting rights to all residents, all those who obey the law and pay taxes, and not only to nationals. This is not for tomorrow.

4. Structural addiction to cheap labour

While globalization has enhanced the delocalisation of production to developing countries where labour is cheap and workers’ protection standards low, such delocalisation is not possible for large sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, construction, hospitality, care giving, domestic work, fisheries or extraction.

Destination countries have thus constructed or tolerated, on their own territory, production conditions similar to those in developing countries, with a view to subsidising these sectors through the reduction in labour costs.

Temporary low-wage workers with a very precarious status (single-employer sponsorship or kafala system) and undocumented migrants form a pliable workforce for these sectors of the economy, which would not be profitable in an open and regulated labour market in which citizens would request much better conditions for the same tasks. I met undocumented sub-Saharan agricultural workers in Italy working 10 hours a day for a total sum of 20 euros, without any benefit.

The repression of undocumented migration increases the precariousness of both categories, by enhancing the fear factor and thus silencing them.

5. Mass repression only compounds the problem

Repressing irregular migrants and not repressing exploitative employers only creates more underground labour markets.

In the 50s and 60s, millions of North Africans and Turks migrated to Europe: there was little smuggling and very few people died in the Mediterranean, because anyone could buy a ferry ticket and come to find work, with the ability of changing quickly their immigration status when they found a job.

Migrants are preyed upon by unethical recruiters, migrant smugglers, exploitative employers, corrupt authorities, greedy landlords, etc. One can understand that they fear speaking up and defending their rights.

By placing a barrier between push and pull factors without addressing any of them, we are actually empowering and subsidising smuggling rings, repeating the errors of the past. This is not heeding the lessons of the Prohibition era, of the war on drugs, or of the repression of prostitutes. The more you repress the little people, the more you empower powerful operators. Legalising, regulating and taxing works much better than prohibiting.

Those who are undocumented in countries of destination are also immobilised, since they will not go home unless they have a guarantee of being able to come back. Historically, most Mexican migrants to the US went back and forth between home and jobs in the US, depending on the vagaries of the US labour market. Only when the border thickened, did they stay undocumented in such large numbers.

6. Acknowledging our real labour needs

We are not able to start a social conversation on such exploitation, as most citizens (consumers, employers, local authorities, tax authorities…) are happy with the results and migrants do not complain, protest or mobilise. If no one complains, where is the problem?

We are thus incapable of acknowledging that, apart from the push factors (violence and poverty in countries of origin), such underground and precarious labour markets constitute an enormous pull factor, for which we are responsible. Migrants are not stupid and go to where there are jobs: millions of employers offer such jobs, but only in the margins.

Host states need to start dismantling precarious temporary migrant worker statuses and repressing exploitative employers. Only then will migrants be empowered to claim their rights and fight for them, on an equal footing with all other workers.

7. Beyond the Global Compact

In the Global Compact on Migration, states will probably not go beyond small technical fixes to their present perceived problems. This will already be an improvement as there is nothing at present in terms of global governance. However, it will only be a first baby step in building a much more elaborate framework for human mobility.

Responding to the complexity of human mobility, States will need to develop a long-term strategic vision of how their mobility policies will look like in a generation from now, with precise timelines and accountability benchmarks.

States do such strategic planning for policies on energy, the environment, food security, public transit, infrastructures or industries, in order to determine the investments needed to achieve the objectives. Why aren’t we doing it for mobility and migration policies, for which the policy time line always seems to be now: “stopping migration now”, “sending back migrants now”, “bringing in technicians now”?

My proposal for the Global Compact was that it should initiate a fifteen-year “agenda”, parallel to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, which would include successive benchmarks and accountability mechanisms.

It would implement Target 10.7 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda (“facilitate orderly, safe and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”), where “facilitating” means “making easier” as well as “making more effective”.

We see labour mobility within countries or within the EU as an asset. Why should it be different internationally, if employers and migrants can meet in an open labour market, and individuals can find a place to strive?

Facilitating mobility does not mean diminishing border controls. On the contrary, it is to increase them and make them more effective by offering most foreigners much easier access to appropriate travel documents, such as refugee resettlement visa, visitor visa, family reunification visa, work visa, resident visa or student visa.

Implementing visa liberalisation and visa facilitation agreements, and electronic travel authorisation schemes, over a long period, would allow for states to focus security and other controls where they are most useful.

Facilitating mobility would mean banking on the agency of each migrant, thus benefiting from this enormous pool of courage, grit and determination. It would also mean banking on their mobility, in and out.

Moreover, it would take into account the fact that migration stories are life stories, i.e. individual stories. Tackling them by general mechanisms that distinguish little between individual cases does not respond to their needs, nor to the needs of their employers, their neighbours, their friends, or to the interests of the country of destination. We should treat migration issues with case management mechanisms, taking into account all individual circumstances, just as we do for social services. We are dealing with people, not boxes.

This will mean investing in the integration of migrants, in the much broader framework of social integration generally, for the youth, the elderly, the person with disability, the poor. In a time of rising social inequalities, social integration is a collective objective, and migrants represent only a small part of the issue.

This facilitation of mobility is not a utopian solution. I would argue that the utopian (or, more probably, dystopian) mindset is on the side of those who claim that migration can be stopped, or that we can continue to live peacefully with millions of disenfranchised migrant youths, or that we can deport millions of migrants while respecting human rights, or that we can “seal” the borders in a context of growing global inequalities.

8. Silver linings

Although the indications regarding the intentions of States during this negotiation of the Global Compact are not favourable to enlarging mobility, some silver linings show the change in the narrative is already underway:

  • Artists and writers, as always, have anticipated our mobility and diversity dilemma and they help us to process the changes. See Orhan Pamuk’s A Strangeness in my mind, or the popular television series “Star Trek.” See also, contra, all the post-apocalyptic novels and films that have been produced in recent years.
  • Journalists in good media outlets are much better educated on migration than even six years ago. Their stories help a new narrative emerge.
  • NGOs, faith-based organisations, lawyers are everywhere doing a great job in trying to protect individual migrants and alter public perceptions.
  • Unions are starting to perceive migrant workers, not simply as competition for their members, but as a pool of future due-paying members. They are seeing that migrant workers are in the same marginal position as the industrial workers of the 19th century, whom they were created to empower.
  • The business community knows that mobility and diversity are huge factors for innovation and productivity. They are starting to speak up.
  • Courts, tribunals, national human rights institutions, and ombudspersons are often coming down on the side of migrants, reminding everyone that migrants are equal rights-holders and should benefit from the Rule of Law.
  • Cities around the world have absorbed millions of migrants from the countryside or from abroad without erecting barriers (except recently Beijing). They have even often established firewalls between their services and immigration enforcement.
  • Hundreds of thousands of citizens have come forward to help individual migrants and families, in Europe, in Canada and elsewhere. Mobilising them around practical projects that they can embrace, such as private sponsorship mechanisms, should be a priority.
  • At least in cities, the youth are often – not always – much more diverse and mobile than we were at their age, and they share social integration challenges whatever their background. I hope that, when their generation will take charge in a quarter century, diversity and mobility policies will come to them more naturally than for my generation.
  • The migrants themselves show an agency, a resilience, and a creativity, which are already influencing many citizens in host societies as they encounter one another in everyday life. Their stories embody the narrative we need to make sense of what we witness.

Despite states’ attitudes, all this tells me that the present reticence of many politicians is a rear-guard battle and that mobility and diversity will be increasingly recognised and celebrated as central features of all contemporary societies.

For sure, the nationalist populist narrative is dominating at present and violent outbursts can be expected. I hope that we can see beyond their fantasies and threats, and prepare a different, peaceful, more productive narrative.

 To access the statement, click here.

The New York Times: Europe Benefits by Bankrolling an Anti-Migrant Effort. Niger Pays a Price

Niger has been well paid for drastically reducing the number of African migrants using the country as a conduit to Europe. But the effort has hurt parts of the economy and raised security concerns.
27 August, 2018


[Civilians in Dirkou, Niger, loading a truck in preparation for crossing the harsh desert. Joe Penny for the NYT]

Commentary by Francois Crépeau: “Creating an “immigration problem” in fragile countries, through diverting development aid towards local anti-immigration security measures, in order to prevent migrants setting foot in Europe, is so clearly an example of short-term benefit: economic, political, security, human rights and mobility issues will accumulate over time, before they explode in a much more toxic and damaging way.  Such prohibition policies cannot last and, for its utter lack of long-term vision on international human mobility, Europe will see its future generations pay a much higher price in due time.”

DIRKOU, Niger — The heavily armed troops are positioned around oases in Niger’s vast northern desert, where temperatures routinely climb beyond 100 degrees.

While both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have branches operating in the area, the mission of the government forces here is not to combat jihadism.

Instead, these Nigerien soldiers are battling human smugglers, who transport migrants across the harsh landscape, where hundreds of miles of dunes separate solitary trees.

The migrants are hoping to reach neighboring Libya, and from there, try a treacherous, often deadly crossing of the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

The toll of the military engagement is high. Some smugglers are armed, militants are rife and the terrain is unforgiving: Each mission, lasting two weeks, requires 50 new truck tires to replace the ones shredded in the blistering, rocky sand.

But the operation has had an impact: Niger has drastically reduced the number of people moving north to Libya through its territory over the past two years.

The country is being paid handsomely for its efforts, by a Europe eager to reduce the migrant flow. The European Union announced at the end of last year it would provide Niger with one billion euros, or about $1.16 billion, in development aid through 2020, with hundreds of millions of that earmarked for anti-migration projects. Germany, France and Italy also provide aid on their own.

To read the full article, please click here.

The Guardian: Cuts to migrant projects fuel local tensions, warns report

Lack of help to find English lessons and jobs is a barrier to integration, thinktank says
27 August, 2018


Commentary by Francois Crépeau: “Britain is another society which feels collectively threatened by immigration and does not invest in the social and labour integration of migrants. The foreseeable outcomes of such lack of vision will come to haunt British authorities for decades to come.”

Repeated calls from ministers for migrants to integrate have been undermined by major cuts in key programmes designed to help them settle, a new study has warned.

A failure to help is also locking many new arrivals into low-paid work and helping to raise local tensions, according to a study by the Institute for Public Policy Research thinktank (IPPR). It found there had been dramatic cuts in funding for English lessons and other help, and that more than 37% of EU migrants are overqualified for their jobs in the UK.

The study found that the annual budget for teaching English had fallen by almost two-thirds in less than a decade, from around £46 per head in 2009 to £16 in 2017.

It also found that funding for integration efforts, aimed at local authorities with high levels of migration, had dropped by almost a third, from £8 per migrant in 2009 to £5.63 in 2017. Additionally, there was evidence that local councils with the highest levels of migration have been disadvantaged most, as their funding had not kept pace with population growth.

Le Monde: Crèche Baby-Loup : l’ONU critique la France pour le licenciement d’une salariée voilée

Le comité des droits de l’homme des Nations unies estime qu’il s’agit d’une « atteinte à la liberté de religion » et invite Paris à indemniser la salariée
27 August, 2018
A photo taken on June 3, 2014 shows the new building of the private nursery Baby-Loup in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, west of Paris. AFP PHOTO / ESTELLE EMONET / AFP PHOTO / ESTELLE EMONET
A photo taken on June 3, 2014 shows the new building of the private nursery Baby-Loup in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, west of Paris. AFP PHOTO / ESTELLE EMONET / AFP PHOTO / ESTELLE EMONET

Commentary by Francois Crépeau: “France still does not understand that integration is a two-way avenue, that host communities and migrants both have to adapt to each other, based on the common and shared values, which are embodied in the international human rights framework, nothing more but nothing less. France needs to learn that freedom of religion is an international human right while “laïcité” is not, at best an interpretive principle. It also needs to learn that banning a piece of cloth due to an anti-religious ideology sends a disastrous message to people of immigrant origin, that they are requested to “assimilate”, not “integrate”. Integration respects the diversity which comes with immigration, while assimilation does not. The damage to France – fractious relationships between communities inside and reputational damage outside – is considerable and will last for at least a generation. France is considered not to be a welcoming society for immigrants: this is not how most traditional immigration countries are now becoming vibrant, diverse and creative societies.”

Licenciée en 2008, la Française Fatima Afif avait été déboutée à deux reprises par les tribunaux. Mais dans un arrêt de mars 2013, vivement critiqué, la chambre sociale de la Cour de cassation lui avait donné raison, estimant que « s’agissant d’une crèche privée », le licenciement constituait « une discrimination en raison des convictions religieuses ». Mais son licenciement avait été confirmé par la Cour de cassation en 2014.

Dans ses conclusions, publiées le 10 août et que l’AFP a pu consulter, le comité de l’ONU a noté que « l’interdiction qui lui a été faite de porter son foulard sur son lieu de travail constitue une ingérence dans l’exercice de son droit à la liberté de manifester sa religion ».

Le comité, qui surveille l’application du Pacte international relatif aux droits civils et politiques, a observé par ailleurs que la France « n’explique pas en quelles mesures le port du foulard serait incompatible avec la stabilité sociale et l’accueil promus au sein de la crèche ».

To read the full article, please click here.