The State should not delegate immigration policy to NGOs

by Giuseppe Terranova - 2017.05.18
The State should not delegate immigration policy to NGOs
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The Senate Defence Commission has unanimously approved and presented yesterday the results of fact-finding research concerning the emergency operations of NGOs in the Mediterranean. We asked Professor Marco Lombardi of the Università Cattolica of Milan for his opinion.

Question: What do you think about the conclusions of the Senate Defence Commission?

Answer: They are heading in the hoped-for direction, at the base of which there must be a level of awareness, including political, of the need to manage all the aspects of the migration phenomenon. The delicate nature of the question, however, clearly emerges with respect to the different interpretations, always “minimalist”, given by the owners of the media. For one the Commission “absolves” the NGOs and for another their float has a “devastating impact”. Therefore, whilst each continues to apply ideological considerations to the issue of managing migration we will never get anywhere in determining who is right and who is wrong. What we need to do is highlight the fact that the Commission has asked for the introduction and respect of a precise system of rules: exactly what has been missing in terms of concrete action in the Mediterranean where each player has acted in its own interests, only interacting on an operational level with the others to achieve their objectives. This has worked perfectly to date for all: for criminals and terrorists who have pursued their business interests, migrants who have found a way to leave, NGOs who have satisfied their solidarity mission and the military who have been able to contain the nature of their commitment within a certain profile, one that is more problematic to them, of the lack of shared international direction. The Commission has highlighted and specified the need for rules, within the context of a clear chain of command and control, involving legitimate players in a formal manner. All and good: at the end of the day, someone has to ensure that the system of rules is respected. And here we have the stumbling block of politics.

Q: It seems to me that at this point, the game in the Mediterranean is political rather than criminal. Do you agree?

A: In the situation described and in the widest context of hybrid warfare, criminality is an opportunistic player that interprets the conflict situations to its own advantage. Criminality does not govern anything but exploits the lack of governance. It goes without saying that the game is political in nature!

Q: Given what is happening on the sea and also on the land (I am thinking of Capo Rizzuto) has the moment perhaps come to entrust the rescue and accommodation of migrants to the state authorities (rather than volunteers)?

A :Collaboration between the public and the private sector is essential for a number of reasons: political, organisation and cultural. The daily and active commitment of an organised civil society in the volunteer world is a historical achievement particularly for the western world that we need to defend. What we are coming to realise is that this relationship cannot be based on complete delegation but reciprocal integration within the context of formal responsibility for the means of action and implementation of the results that must particularly apply to political governance. This has been lacking to date because politics has often delegated to the volunteer sector and it was not able to act or act as it would have liked but it would not accept responsibility for this. With the result that the volunteer sector removed huge weights from the shoulders of politics, gaining inappropriate recognition in return. The problem of what is happening in the Mediterranean stems from this improper relationship. So we should not throw out the baby with the bath water: public and private, professional and voluntary, political and civil, institutions and NGOs must work together around new foundations and rules.

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