With the inauguration of President Lula in January 2023, Brazil's federal government re-established a wide range of human rights policies that had been abandoned, misrepresented or denied by Jair Bolsonaro's government (2019-2022). One of Lula's first foreign policy actions was to reintegrate the country into the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
In the field of migration, refuge and statelessness, in addition to the resumption of public policies with a focus on human rights, a Working Group (WG) was set up at the Ministry of Justice and Public Security to establish a National Policy on Migration, Refuge and Statelessness. The creation of a national migration policy is provided for in Article 120 of the 2017 Migration Law, but had never been proposed since. The formation of the Working Group included public agents from the federal government, representatives of international organisations (IOM, UNHCR, ILO, etc.), civil society organisations that support migrants and refugees, organisations of migrants and refugees, human rights defenders, universities, academics and specialists.
Set up on 03/03/2023 via a virtual platform and coordinated by the Migration Department (DEMIG) of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Working Group brought together around 150 representatives from all public and private sectors who had been invited to join social participation in the discussion and formulation of a National Policy document on Migration, Refugees and Statelessness. The WG was divided into five axes: 1- Migration Regularisation; 2- Local Integration; 3- Promotion and protection of rights, combating xenophobia and racism; 4- Social Participation; 5- International Relations and Interculturality.
During the month of March 2023, three virtual meetings were held in each section to finalise the content of the draft document, based on written and oral suggestions, and to promote a public consultation on the subject. One of the essential elements of this process is social consultation through the actors in the migration field, organisations and subjects of law directly involved in this policy. For the first time in its history, Brazil will have a national policy on migration, refuge and statelessness that is integrated and built with a focus on human rights and based on broad social participation, reinforcing its democratic legitimacy. Based on this process, the debates and suggestions presented, a comprehensive report will form the basis of a federal decree to be issued by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security to begin implementing the new policy.
In the context of broader social participation on the issue of migration and refuge, the federal government will organise the Second National Conference on Migration, Refuge and Statelessness - II COMIGRAR, in June 2024. This event will resume the national dialogue on migration, initiated by the 1st COMIGRAR in 2014. Also in 2024, within the regional framework of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Cartagena + 40 Conference will be held, an international event that will bring together governments, international organisations and civil society in Santiago de Chile to promote a review of the Cartagena Regime, a set of legal and political principles and guidelines on the international protection of forced migrants and refugees in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is expected that the debate to be held in Cartagena + 40 will also incorporate the broad participation of organised civil society, which has played a central role in the effectiveness of policies for the protection and reception of migrants and refugees in Brazil and in the region.
Gilberto M. A. Rodrigues is Associate Professor of International Relations at the Federal University of ABC (UFABC). Productivity Researcher at the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). Member (Expert) of the Working Group of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security for the Establishment of the National Policy on Migration, Refuge and Statelessness (2023) in Brazil.