Speech at the IPU hearing on migration at the UN

There has been some talk about national sovereignty here, a lot of talk about us needing to help on site, as a means of avoiding migration altogether.

These words would be much more credible if they were accompanied by real actions and commitments to development aid and climate action, for example.

And here my own country can be criticised, too. We are not on track to reach the 0,7% development aid goal, quite the opposite.

If we want to amend the root causes the answer is quite easy. We need to assure that there is opportunity in the countries of departure. That there are ways to make a living, ways to be heard, to have a voice.

And that opportunity is given through democracy. Less autocracy, more meritocracy.

We don’t need authoritarianism but true democratic structures.

And that also implies that boosting authoritarian regimes never can be a way to create sustainable societies.

Fostering democracy is the only way to sustainably create resilient societies, societies with opportunities.

And sometimes it doesn’t work even then. The big elephant in the room is climate change.

It doesn’t matter how well working the society is if living there becomes impossible. If rising sea levels cover the land or extreme weather makes growing crops impossible. But even then, having a democracy that makes everybody part of society makes coping easier, it makes adapting easier.

It is quite clear that migration isn’t  something that started in 2015 even though some European countries might feel that. And it will increase, which makes our main mission to focus on how to receive, how to integrate.

There are easy things every country can make: Take down the barriers that makes it more difficult to integrate – make it easy to open a bank account, to take an insurance policy, to get a social security number. These are the easy steps.

The difficult one is attitude, the general feeling in society. And here I want to thank the representative of the UK who raised the very important question of hate speech.

In Europe we can see increasingly nationalistic tendencies. A search for easy answers to difficult questions. That is a breeding ground for xenophobia, and that again impedes integration.

Research shows that the general attitude is the most important factor in integration. If people feel included, welcomed, then integration is easy. And then migration, immigration – something that Europe actually needs due to its demographic structure – turns into something positive.

1 reply
  1. C. Grandell
    C. Grandell says:

    The big elephant in the room is not only climate change..

    Then there’s the pink elephants in the room. The preference for blocking the creation of local democratic institutions by propping up puppet regimes for geopolitical gain in the competition for, regional economic and cultural dominance, economic areas, trade-routes, infrastructure, raw-materials, and energy resources, as well as all the related wars that drive mass migration.

    Integration is like tango, it really takes two collaborating partners with the same objective in mind.

    In order to find functional solutions, the first step is to correctly acknowledge and frame all the challenges. Inaction and failing to address all real issues will with great certainty only further increase xenophobia and nationalistic tendencies, with uncontrollable consequences, however unintended.

    “Feeling included” only goes so far.

    Leadership comes with the responsibility to recognize and address all the problems, however complex – not only those that feel most comfortable and popular.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been researching the relationship between the West and Islam.

    “Ayaan is a Fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at The Harvard Kennedy School, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.”


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