Human Security in An Interdependent World
Saturday, 17. August 2002

Jean-Daniel Gerber, Director of the Swiss Federal Office of Refugees, today called for the creation of a new international organization to elaborate 'the rules, principles and guidelines' to deal with international migration other than refugees. He noted the unjust realities of the world, that leave few options to many living in poor countries other than revolution or migration. He was speaking at a public session on 'Human security in an interdependent world' at the end of a Political Round Table, at the international centre for Initiatives for Change, in Caux, Switzerland.

Refugees, who are protected by international conventions, the Swiss refugee chief noted, only make a small percentage of the migrants, perhaps 10%. The others have little or no legal protection. Switzerland, he said, according to OECD statistics, had the largest per capita migrant population in the developed world, three times that of the second-placed country, the Netherlands. 'Yet Switzerland doesn't think of itself as a country of migration,' Gerber noted. European Union policies were aimed at tightening further the controls, he said, 'but it won't work, it never has and it never will'. He outlined a six-point programme that started with a change of mentality in the host countries, to recognise that migration has always been a beneficial, positive process.
Arlen Erdahl, former Republican member of the House of Representatives, and now an international consultant and President of the Minnesota United Nations Association, called for more non-military responses to terrorism. 'Peace is not just the absence of war,' he said, 'but the absence of the conditions that spawn war - the poverty, the hopelessness.' He described himself as the son of an economic migrant, and quoted a phrase of his mother, in Norwegian, which he translated: 'The world's not so large'. He regretted America's current 'unfortunate mood to insulate and isolate ourselves from the rest of the world'. Many in the United States, he said, were 'international illiterates'; there was a vast work of information and education to be done. 'Am I my brother's keeper? And who is my brother?' he asked. He answered that it was not a question of nationality or proximity, 'but every man, woman or child in need'. 'We have a great responsibility,' Erdahl concluded, 'not to go it alone, to work with others. A responsibility to lead and to share.'

Mr Toru Hashimoto, Chairman of the Fuji Research Institute Corporation, former head of the Fuji Bank, the largest in the world, and now the Chairman of Initiatives of Change in Japan, also spoke. He noted his involvement in the Caux Round Table (CRT), initiated in 1985, and their commitment 'to address the root causes of terror'. The Caux Round Table's next international meeting, next month, would be on 'responsible globalization', including their concern with corruption, and CRT principles for Good Governance, to set alongside their well-established business principles, the widest-used standards for corporate ethics.

The six weeks of conferences in Caux have brought together 1,450 participants from every continent, and from a wide range of the world's trouble spots, along with approximately 1,000 day guests, on the overall theme of 'Globalizing Responsibility for Human Security'. This year also marked the centenary of the Caux-Palace Hotel, which serves as the international conference centre for Initiatives of Change since 1946.

Christoph Spreng, Andrew Stallybrass

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