Declaration of the Assembly of Social Movements of the European Social Forum on Migration


The Declaration, which is the outcome of a process involving "300 social movements, civil society organisations, migrants' associations, unions, migrant and refugee people activists and academics," calls for renewed action to protect the rights of migrants, refugees and people on the move across the globe.

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The European Social Forum on Migration (ESFM) is a descendent of the World Social Forum on Migrations, itself a section of the World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre in Brazil in 2004.

This year's event was the first ESFM. It was made up of a mix of events held online and in 'real life', in Lisbon, Portugal. Statewatch participated in one of the pre-forum events, as part of the human rights axis, on 11 March - a webinar on the criminalisation of migration and solidarity, the externalisation of borders and rights violations.

The Declaration of the Assembly is the outcome of that and many other events and discussions that took place as part of the pre-forum and the forum itself.

You can find out more about the ESFM here. The Declaration is also available in Portuguese, French, Italian and Spanish here.

Declaration of the Assembly of Social Movements of the European Social Forum on Migration

We, representatives of 300 social movements, civil society organizations, migrants’ associations, unions, migrant and refugee people activists and academics from 31 countries, met virtually in four convergence assemblies and 26 self-managed activities for the 1st European Social Forum on Migration (FSEMLISBOA 2021) between 15th and 26th of March 2021. Considering our diversity, we have built a history and a common work that has allowed us to move forward with hope towards a collective agenda of alternative struggles in favor of migration with rights and against machismo, racism and all forms of discrimination and oppression. As a summary of this collaborative discussion that took place at this important meeting, we ratify this Final Declaration.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic (SARS-CoV-2), several countries took the opportunity to reinforce their repressive and exclusive policies for the control and restriction of human mobility, which have continuously generated systematic violations of human rights. In this context, people in situations of migration and refuge have been suffering from the lack of guarantees for their protection, with the criminalization of solidarity, with the necropolitics leading to mass deaths - on sea and on land - carried out with impunity by European states and the violation of migratory rights, even those provided for in international agreements.

The peoples of the world are currently suffering from the effects of a deepening health crisis. Migrant and refugee people face the blockages of a fortified Europe, before which it is necessary to mobilize in defense of human dignity. In this context, with a methodology that involved spaces of exchange between different social actors involved in the migratory theme and with special attention to the protagonism of migrant and refugee people, FSEMLISBOA 2021 emphasized that it is necessary to work together on proposals and alternatives for the construction of guarantees of the right to migrate and to migrate with rights, and other models of society that place the social issues at the center of its project, based on rights and the common good.

The discussions shared during the event were carried out according to thematic axes identified as priority areas for action, mobilization and engagement in the migratory theme:

  1. Economic rights;
  2. Human rights;
  3. Environmental, Social and Cultural Rights;
  4. Political Rights.

We also highlighted the intersectionality of themes such as gender, race, class, nationality, identity and interculturality. These issues received notoriety and consideration throughout all the discussions on the thematic axes, as they influence and sometimes condition access to public policies and rights related to the themes of health, work, education, housing, culture, environment, regularization migration, political participation, among others.

In this context, we reaffirm our commitment for building a common strategy with general demands, proposals and motions produced from the dialogue between the various social actors and approved in the convergence assemblies.

General Demands

  1. Defence of the freedom of movement of people in the world.
  2. Guarantee the non-criminalisation of migrations, solidarity movements, search and rescue operations and the saving of lives at risk at sea and on the land, and call for a solidarity fund to support the work of all the organisations involved in this work.
  3. Defence of inclusive and universal regularisation policies for all migrants and refugees.
  4. Defence of health as a human right, universal and free of charge, with guaranteed access for migrants and refugees.
  5. Access to Covid-19 vaccination to all inhabitants of a country, without discrimination or exclusion in relation to their origin and/or migratory status.
  6. Change of perspective in the political discourse on migration, focusing on the inclusion of its positive aspects for the construction of a plural and intercultural society.
  7. Inclusion of migrants and refugees in public and civil consultations, thus promoting their participation and political representation.
  8. Change in EU agreements with third countries to put an end to externalisation of borders and of management of migration movements.


Economic Rights Axis

  1. Defend the regularization of migrants and the strengthening of channels for a migration with rights

We add support and renew the call for the unrestricted and unconditional regularization of all undocumented migrants across Europe in order to end the exploitation, discrimination and competition of workers. In this sense, we call on all social actors, trade unions and civil society organisations to promote mobilisation, in the form of strikes or other actions depending on the contexts, at national and European level, to demand from the governments of European states a law, and its implementation, to regularise migrant people present on their own territory.

We emphasize that agreements on legal and safe routes for migrants and refugees must be considered to serve the needs and demands of migrant people, the countries they come from and not just the interests of the EU. These agreements must be durable and accessible to all professional profiles and not just to highly qualified professionals. In this sense, we require community-based sponsorship programs as a humanitarian way of admission. In response to Commission Recommendation (EU) 2020/1364 of 23 September 2020, presented under the European Pact on Migration and Asylum, we propose that action should be taken to ensure a humanitarian corridor for groups that we identify as priority in the reception, as, for example: unaccompanied minors, women with infants, people with physical disabilities, etc. We must create and propose to local governments a strategic partnership to welcome and integrate them. We demand the participation of civil society in discussions regarding migration policies.

  1. Implement the application of international treaties and denounce non-compliance

We demand the urgent implementation and immediate compliance with international conventions to guarantee the rights of migrants and refugees, and the ratification and implementation of ILO Conventions 97 and 143 and UN Convention 90. We propose the launch of a public awareness campaign.

  1. Work on political and social debate

We denounce the precariousness that exists in most economic sectors with a majority of migrant and refugee labor force, a reality of socioeconomic racism that aggravates and strengthens the others. In this sense, we demand the equality of labor and economic rights. This is a civilizational requirement and it is beneficial not only for migrant and refugee workers, but also for all workers, in the economy and for society.

Human Rights Axis

  1. Defend the creation of a Global Solidarity Pact

We defend a Global Solidarity Pact with ambitious actions to ensure that the universality of human rights is respected, such as: organizing a conference with MEPs and allied organizations to create a European parliamentary consultation on human rights violations on migratory issues, inform and demand the end of participation in anti-immigration agencies within the European Union – especially FRONTEX, in a more forceful way in the response against human rights, violation of rights at borders, etc.

  1. Investigate violations of laws and human rights in Europe

We advocate for the creation of a European parliamentary investigation commission to verify violations of law and human rights, such as the deterrence of migratory movements, returns at land and sea borders, massive deportations, forced disappearances, formal and informal detentions, externalization of border control, etc.

  1. Denounce collectively the situation at Europe's internal borders

We support the creation of a mechanism for complaints about the situation at the European Union's internal borders. Supposedly open, but in reality, their existence implies control, violence and racism. We also denounce the frequent cases of violations of laws, gender-based violence, refusals of entry and massive deportations in border areas and in countries.

Environmental, Social and Cultural Rights Axis

  1. Build, implement and communicate a common narrative at the intersection of migratory justice, environmental justice and social justice

We encourage the documentation of historical continuities between colonial rule and the process of financial and economic globalization, currently driven by European trade, investments, corporate extraction in the global south and war over natural resources - intensifying the mass displacement of people. It is necessary to underline the responsibilities of states and companies in the implementation of death policies at the borders to repress freedom of movement as a fundamental right.

  1. Contribute to deconstruct racial, gender and social discrimination

We advocate the establishment of a strategic action and communication plan, coordinating the European social movements involved, in order to deconstruct racial, gender and social discrimination. At the intersection of these struggles, the organizations of migrants and refugees - migrant and refugee women or transgender migrants and refugees in the first place, are part of the decisive social movements capable of achieving intersectoral convergences.

  1. Execute and strengthen an intercultural education

We call for a task force on intercultural education under an antiracist prerogative to connect the many people who demand and press for alternative pedagogies for mutual cultural relearning – including their history of colonization and decolonization - within formal national education systems and informal education places. In addition, recognize the fundamental role of migrant and refugee cultural workers and artists and their urgent need for protection and financial support.

Political Rights Axis

  1. Build a network dedicated to the stories of migrants and refugees

We provoke the need for the creation of a collective action to amplify the voice of migrants and refugees, to collect and disseminate their life stories, told in first person or by their relatives, in the case of missing persons, in an intersectional and representative way. The intention is to create a space for sharing experiences and subjectivities, thus recovering the understanding and self-knowledge of them as political actors. This network intends to humanise the political discourse and politicise the human experiences of migrants and refugees.

  1. Work on advocacy for an intersectoral elaboration of migration policies that are democratic, participatory and inclusive

We aim to connect and highlight localities in Europe, in non-European countries affected by European policies and, widely, in the world, where local alliances between authorities, migrants, refugees and civil society actors achieve more inclusive and welcoming actions, serving as models for other migration policies at national and European level.

It is of fundamental importance for this, the defence of the political rights of migrant and refugee people through political participation and the vindication of their right to vote. Thus, it is important to demand that European funds be made conditional on the guarantee of migrants' and refugees’ rights, and distributed equitably to local actors who work to build policies in favour of the rights of migrants and refugees.

  1. Promote the construction of a European day for defence of access to essential public services

We advocate the promotion of a European day of fight and defence of access to essential public services, such as education, health, housing, decent work, among others. A day of actions organised and coordinated by civil society across Europe to demand full and unrestricted access to essential public services for the entire population, including migrants and refugees, regardless of their migratory status.

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