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Advisory opinion to set up the Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad

First : The platform for the advisory opinion His Majesty King Mohammed VI, may God protect Him, on 6 November 2006, commissioned the Advisory Council on Human Rights “to initiate extensive consultations with the parties concerned in order to seek their opinion on the setting up of the new council, taking into account the need to make sure this institution is competent, representative, credible and efficient.” Pursuant to the High Royal instructions, the Advisory Council on Human Rights conducted extensive consultations, with the contribution of the Council’s Migration Committee and a working group composed of Moroccan researchers, working inside and outside Morocco, as well as civil society actors and elected representatives of Moroccan origin living abroad. The Council also sought the expertise and experience of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Delegate Ministry in charge of the Moroccan Community Living Abroad, the Hassan II Foundation for Moroccan Expatriates, the Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity and the ambassadors of His Majesty the King in many countries of immigration. 1. Extensive consultations The consultation program carried out by the Council included in particular the organization of four seminars and about 62 consultation meetings in 20 host countries of Moroccans living abroad, who were requested to fill in forms via the Internet, and the holding of meetings with political parties and civil society organizations. The Council also sought the opinion of the government sectors and institutions involved in the management of migration, and the views of all associations and personalities that have requested the Council to give them a hearing. In general, this process saw the contribution of more than 3000 civil society actors, politicians, elected representatives, artists, businesspersons, religious officials and researchers, who expressed their opinion to the Council. Their comments and suggestions were set down in the report which the Council developed and annexes to this advisory opinion. The conclusions of the symposia and the individual contributions are available on the CCDH website and will be published soon. In light of the materials collected throughout all these activities and the academic actions conducted; after an examination of international experiences relating to the representativeness of migrant citizens and an analysis of correspondence the Council received; and following the Council’s deliberations, the CCDH has developed this advisory opinion which it submits to the special attention of Your Majesty. The CCDH concluded that the proposed form of the Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad is most appropriate for the current situation and the dynamic process which has been launched since the Royal speeches of November 2005 and November 2006. This form is based on a three-dimensional observation: - Quasi consensus among the interlocutors, public and private, outside and inside Morocco, on the establishment of the Council and on the nature of its core functions; - The need to include the issue of setting up the Council in the framework of a public renewed and ambitious policy to cope with the radical mutations affecting migration; - The existence of different opinions on the method of setting up the Council. Views varied between direct ballot and designation, including intermediate formulas that combine direct universal vote and appointment, or a majority of members composed of representatives of current immigrant organizations. In general, the international experience shows the different formulas adopted and their evolutionary nature. Considering all these variables, the Advisory Council on Human Rights specifically proposes an evolutionary formula that enables the members of the Council, in its first composition, to carry out in-depth reflection on the issue and submit a proposal, at the end of the first mandate, to choose one method or another for the composition of the Council. The Council keeps also the prerogative to consider the best formula for optimal involvement of migration in human development and democratic life in Morocco. This option requires that the proposed Council continue to adopt the participatory approach developed by the CCDH, and expand it through the involvement of all stakeholders among the Moroccan community living abroad, mainly by creating special working groups, whenever necessary, composed of the Council members and Moroccan competencies abroad, through the organization of thematic seminars in which participate Moroccans living abroad according to their areas of interest or competence, or by country of residence or continent. 2. A deeply changing migration In less than four decades, Moroccan migration has witnessed profound changes due to several factors, mainly: - Increasing globalization (presence of Moroccan immigrants in all continents, although most of them settle in Europe); - Increasing feminization (about half Moroccan immigrants are women); - Tendency to settle permanently in the countries of residence (with the emergence of second and third generations of Moroccans who were born and raised outside of Morocco); - Widening diversity of the origin of Moroccan immigrants to include all areas of Morocco; and - Diversity of socio-professional backgrounds of Moroccan immigrants. The increasing mobility of people resulting from globalization and its consequences, and the movement of highly-qualified persons is a phenomenon that affects and will further affect Morocco. In general, the educational level of Moroccan migrants has developed substantially. Illegal migration, promoted by human trafficking networks, remains one of the characteristics of migration, despite the efforts of public authorities in border control in recent years. The deep-rooted settlement in the countries of residence, the main expression of which is the phenomenon of naturalization, still is a complicated process due to the growing phenomenon of xenophobia and the various manifestations of racism. At the same time, there is keenness to maintain strong emotional ties with Morocco, expressed in diverse forms: the massive returns home during holiday periods, the increase in the total amount of remittances, and the involvement of hundreds of expatriate associations in cooperation projects with Morocco. Another equally important fact that cannot be ignored, especially as it takes a legal character, is the dual citizenship of Moroccans living abroad. All indicators show that this fact is on the rise. The belonging to two different national legal systems, with the consequent rights and duties, makes it more and more difficult to consider Moroccan expatriates as mere residents abroad. Also, their status as full-fledged citizens -at least legally- within their countries of residence gets enhanced. Even if they do not choose the nationality of the country of residence, the advanced democracies offer Moroccan migrants multiple forms of participation in political life (the right to vote and stand for local elections, the election of union representatives, membership to labor courts, the right to form associations, etc), thereby expanding the practice of "citizenship of residence" and makes it tangible. Accordingly, the CCDH considers that any Moroccan public policy, including the setting up of the Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad, should take into account the diverse situations of Moroccan expatriates, and cope with the ongoing settlement process in most countries of residence. The integration of the majority of Moroccan immigrants in the countries of residence seems to be an irreversible process. The problems of this integration (schooling, housing, training, employment, etc.) fall under the competence of the public authorities of those countries. However, some groups of migrants (illegal immigrants, women victims, actually or potentially, of human trafficking networks, migrants in the Arab countries, and prisoners) are in need of additional protective efforts by the Moroccan consular authorities. Contrary to these vulnerable categories, other groups of migrants successfully integrated into the countries of residence, but the lack of attention they receive may contribute to the failure of that integration. Supporting this deep-rooted assimilation is a prerequisite to ensure their continued attachment to Morocco. The Moroccans, of different generations and social status, involved at various levels in the process of integration, in turn, strongly expect the Moroccan authorities to satisfy their needs in the religious and cultural spheres. For the first generations, and even for part of the new generations, the religious issue remains a major concern: the need for places of worship, for religious education, for training, etc. In many countries, even before, but most particularly since, the September 11, 2001 events, Islam has become a subject of caution and public controversies. Governments of the host countries have started to organize Islamic groups, and announced their desire to reduce "external interference". Broadly speaking, the Moroccan communities have expressed many demands related to the cultural issue, which evidently include the teaching of Arabic, television and radio programs, the organization of exhibitions and cultural festivals, etc. Moreover, they have constantly asked, during the consultation meetings, for the setting up of Moroccan cultural centers in the countries of residence. These requests can ultimately be considered a result of the ongoing integration processes in those countries. For the first generations, who have realized that the prospect of final return grows fainter, they require that what they consider as the distinctive features of the Moroccan identity be guaranteed and their transmission to the new generations be ensured. For the youth, who are now citizens of the countries to which their parents migrated, the acquisition of the Moroccan culture is one way to ensure a harmonious and balanced future. Second: The creation of the Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad 1. Functions of the Council The Council, called the Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad, is an advisory body working under the authority of His Majesty the King. As such, the Council puts forward proposals and assesses all matters relating to the Kingdom’s public policies geared to Moroccan citizens living abroad. The Council devotes its effort to defend the legitimate interests of this community inside and outside the Kingdom, to strengthen their contribution to the social and human development of the country, and enhance relations of friendship and cooperation between Morocco and the host countries. Therefore, the Council is invited, through its organization, working method and proposals, to deploy all efforts to achieve the following objectives: A. To constitute a forum for the exchange and compilation of experiences with respect to the ability of Moroccans to integrate and progress in the host countries. B. To create an observatory to explore promising pathways for legal immigration, considering the current or anticipated developments in those countries in the technological, economic, financial, legal and political fields. C. To serve as a center for information and counsel sources in order to facilitate the organization of Moroccans abroad, individually and collectively, within active networks that enable them to engage in credible and widely-representative groups, while strengthening their collective efforts and close solidarity. D. To contribute, in an advisory capacity, to the development, monitoring and evaluation of public policies aimed at the following: - Progressive development of agreements between Morocco and the countries of immigration to make them more consistent and appropriate; - Better response to the needs expressed by the Moroccan community abroad, particularly with regard to language teaching, religious education, artistic and cultural activities, and the various modes of communication, in respect for universal values of human rights and the values advocated by Morocco, such as moderation and tolerance, as well as the laws and regulations in force in the host countries; - Providing appropriate forms of support to Moroccan expatriates in precarious or marginalized situations in the countries of residence; - Improving the conditions of Moroccan expatriates’ travel to and residence in their country of origin, both when they visit Morocco or when they return thereto for good; - Accelerating and diversifying patterns for the transfer of science, technology, skills, investments and capital to Morocco; E. To contribute to in-depth reflection on conditions and means of extensive, organized and effective participation of Moroccan expatriates in the democratic life of the Kingdom, taking into account the comparative experiences of some countries across the world that organize such participation. This concerns the management of the quality and size of the political representation of Moroccan expatriates within the national representative institutions, the definition of conditions for the exercise or loss of the right to vote and stand for elections, the prevention of conflict of nationalities, the identification of incompatibility cases associated with the various situations of migrants, and the creation of ballot methods and distant voting patterns appropriate to those situations. F. To strengthen the direct and indirect contribution of Moroccan expatriates to the national, regional and local capacity-building of their country of origin, in the areas of sustainable human development, the expansion of the knowledge society and the promotion of human resources. G. To develop modern communication and action strategies through different networks, in line with the specificities of each context, in order to contribute to bringing Morocco, society and state, closer to the host countries at the cultural, human and economic levels. H. To encourage the Moroccan community abroad to play an active role in the dissemination and promotion of the values of equality, social justice and mutual understanding between the various components of the host societies. 2. Composition of the Council A. The Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad shall be established under the authority of His Majesty, who appoints its President and Secretary-General. B. The Council shall be composed of 50 members, in addition to senior government officials, as members with observer status, representing government authorities and state institutions concerned with Moroccans expatriates’ issues. C. These members shall be selected according to the criteria and procedure referred to below. D. The Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad, at a later stage during its first term of office -on the basis of its experience and after conducting the necessary studies and consultations- shall propose the most appropriate formula for its composition in the future. It is likely that this formula will need to consider the electoral dimension in the Council’s composition, at rates determined by the Council. E. At this stage, members shall be selected and appointed for a four-year term from among the immigrant Moroccan figures who are most qualified to contribute to the satisfactory completion of the Council’s tasks with utmost competence, credibility and impartiality, including researchers, elected representatives, civil society actors, decision-makers in the host countries, entrepreneurs, leaders of the Moroccan community, artists, athletes, journalists, executives and employees. F. In addition, the composition of the Council shall take into consideration, as much as possible, equity between generations, gender equality, and the geopolitical balance between the countries of residence. G. Based on these criteria and the overall conclusions of the various activities undertaken by the CCDH, the latter suggests to His Majesty to appoint a committee for initial selection tasked to draw up the list of candidate members of the Council of the Moroccan Community Abroad, to be submitted to His Majesty the King for approval. 3. Organization and management of the Council A. The Council shall hold one ordinary plenary session once a year, and extraordinary sessions as considered urgent. These sessions shall be held on the basis of an agenda proposed by the President, on his own initiative or at the request of the absolute majority of Council members, and submitted to His Majesty the King for approval. B. The Council shall have the prerogative to establish and review its rules of procedure, elect a permanent bureau composed of five to seven members, set up working groups and committees, appoint rapporteurs for specific tasks, and prepare and adopt its action programs and annual budget. All this shall be submitted to His Majesty the King for approval. C. For the proper preparation and success of its plenary sessions, the Council uses all modern means of communication to ensure constant consultation among its members. D. The President of the Council shall see to the implementation of the Council’s recommendations ratified by His Majesty the King. To this end, it shall collaborate, in a regular and intensive manner, with the competent legislative, governmental and administrative authorities, which shall provide effective support to the Council’s action and to the implementation of its recommendations in accordance with the laws and regulations in force. E. The Council shall also regularly listen to the largest possible number of Moroccans abroad, in order to ensure orderly and democratic communication and consultation with them, through electronic platforms of expression, periodic investigations and surveys through electronic means or mails, and public hearings on specific issues, etc. F. In addition, the Council shall, if need be, seek the assistance of eminent experts specialized in the various fields of immigration that fall within the scope of its functions. G. The Council shall develop thematic reports on the issues it addresses at its plenary sessions. It shall also draw up an annual report on its activities, as well as a general two-year report wherein it analyzes the trends of Moroccan emigration and its specific problems, makes a self-assessment, with the assistance of external experts, of the outcome of its action, organization and functioning, and presents the impressions and perceptions of Moroccans abroad on the Council. H. Immediately after the appointment of the Council members, the President and the Secretary-General shall, within three months at the latest, draw up draft rules of procedure and draft program of priority actions to be submitted to the first plenary session of the Council. To this end, they may seek the assistance of some members of the Council of their choice. Third : For renewable public policies and bodies The CCDH considers that the establishment of the future Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad should: 1. Fall within an institutional framework that can be reviewed - and renewed; 2. Keep abreast of the significant developments that have characterized migration in recent decades, in order to take account of the strong expectations expressed by the Moroccan community abroad, particularly in the field of culture. 1. Reviewing the institutional framework Demographic expansion, geographical dispersion and the changes that Moroccan migration has undergone in the last few decades, have presented the Moroccan governmental authorities with the challenge to find institutional responses appropriate for the various renewed issues. Also, these public policies require well-qualified human resources that keep abreast of the changing and diverse facts of this migration, as well as adequate financial resources. As a comprehensive phenomenon, the issue of migration, in view of its crosscutting nature, requires the intervention of several public actors (particularly the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Finance, Justice, Islamic Affairs, and National Education, the Delegate Ministry in charge of the Moroccan Community Living Abroad, the Hassan II Foundation for Moroccan Expatriates, and the Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity) and private sector actors (notably banks, transport companies, money transfer companies, etc). The Council will be created within this institutional framework and it will have to deal with all these actors. The success of the Council, particularly in the development, implementation and evaluation of appropriate public responses to expatriates’ demands, especially at the cultural level, requires constant coordination among the different public and private actors, as well as the launch of crucial reflection with banks on the management of migrants’ deposits and remittances, mostly with a view to raising their profitability for the depositors and the national economy at large. The public and private interlocutors whom the CCDH consulted agreed on the multiplicity of actors and the negative consequences arising therefrom, as well as on the need to upgrade or overhaul the statutes of some institutions. This highlights three key elements: A. The Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad should have one single interlocutor at the governmental level; B. Public financial mechanisms geared to finance the investment projects of Moroccan expatriates should be restructured, as their action and management (particularly the composition of their management board) seem to be inadequate with the changes affecting migration. The restructuring process should be accompanied by stronger and more effective involvement of all financial institutions intervening in the transfer and development of Moroccan expatriate savings for their own benefit and in the interest of the national economy; C. Public agencies concerned with migration need to be upgraded, by reviewing their statutes, functions, funding, and working methods, in light of the creation of the Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad, the changes in the relevant Moroccan civil society organizations, and the necessity to modernize these mechanisms. 2. Fulfilling the basic expectations of migration, particularly in the cultural field The consultations held in the countries of residence made it possible to take stock of the great expectations of the Moroccan community abroad concerning both the religious and the cultural issues. These demands are generally expressed in the call to open “Moroccan cultural centers"; a claim that was always repeated at all consultations. This brings to light the pivotal importance of the religious issue on several levels. Notwithstanding the fact that religious expression in migration varies according to individuals and groups, Islam in the host countries is perceived as a core element of the Moroccan identity and one of the concerns of the immigrant communities and public actors of these countries, and of public opinion, too. Reservations, or even hostility, of the host population against the increasing emergence of Islam in public space (the building of places of worship, dress, food requirements, etc.) have become a noticeable phenomenon, with strong influence on governments and all social actors in the countries of residence. If the law guarantees equal treatment in the exercise of Islamic rites, reality is different. As a newcomer to the increasingly diverse European religious space, the Islamic faith still lags way behind the existing religions, and thus needs to make up for it, particularly in the building of places of worship and the teaching of religion. However, the fact remains that the achievement of this goal is hindered by many obstacles: inadequate domestic funding, dispersed civil society actors, and laws hostile to the building of mosques under various pretexts. Therefore, religious, or even ethno-cultural and linguistic identity does not always find enough space to express itself and seek recognition in the countries of residence. On the contrary, the religion-related tensions that are palpable in the host communities more and more concern the symbols of the culture of origin, which are seen as opposed to the values of these countries and considered contrary or obstructive to a harmonious process of integration. The disparaging of the culture of origin in these communities has led the migrants and their descendants, regardless of their generations, to revive it and give it concrete form, according to their living conditions and the specificities of their lives. This gave rise to unprecedented forms of cultural expression, mostly in the field of cultural production, and to a lesser extent in the area of cultural practices (representations, beliefs, religious behavior, etc). Consequently, the development of a quality and diversified cultural product should constitute one of the priorities of the Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad. This new policy should take into account the historical and cultural particularities of each country of residence, especially and in the first place the legal and institutional framework relating to faiths. This approach should also capitalize on the new communication technology as well as on the capacity and qualifications of our community abroad in order to facilitate the dissemination of culture and folklore, on one hand, and collective/ plural contemporary creativity, on the other. It should also reflect in Morocco the cultural dynamism of migrants in general, and migrant creators in particular. CCDH Twenty-eighth meeting Friday, Shawwal 14, 1428 corresponding to October 26, 2007

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