Achieving human security for migrants: the limits of state policies and migration-development initiatives

In: Bandung

The Philippines is one of the top migrant sending countries and is often lauded as a model migrant country due to its skilled migrant labor force, high remittance rates and forward-thinking government policies. However, it is often criticized for its policies of exploitative labor migrant export, its dependency to migrant remittances, and its failure to offer migrant protection. In recent years, scholars and policy makers have suggested using human security as an approach to address the challenges of migration. By bringing the focus away from the state to becoming people-centered, human security aims to address the problems of statelessness, the lack of migrant protection, human rights, and offers long-term solutions to migration. Since the Philippines is highly dependent on migrant labor and is in the forefront of promoting migrant conditions in the international arena, some relevant questions can be raised: what are the role and benefits of using a human security approach for migrants? How does the Philippines attempt to secure human security for its migrants? Has the Philippines achieved human security for its migrants? This paper argues that as the Philippines grew more dependent on labor migration, human security for migrants is attempted by the state through an institutionalized set of policies and assumptions. The promise of migrant welfare and human security is premised on the following points: creating better policies and institutionalizing migrant state agencies, creating national laws together with bilateral and multilateral agreements on migration and in recent years, and the promotion of migration and development initiatives. While these attempts may hold promise, they suffer from limitations on implementation and sustainability. In the final analysis, human security can only be achieved by working towards a national dialogue on migration where stakeholders from the state, civil society organizations, and migrant groups participate in the national debate on the future of migration. Only by reaching a national dialogue on responsive and long-term policies that are grounded in human security can the country go beyond the view that migration and development policies are a catch-all panacea to the problems of migrant protection and long-term economic development in the homeland.

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