The Raoul Wallenberg Institute hosted a panel debate last week on how to promote a rights based inclusion and integration.
The director of the Institute, Morten Kjaerum, opened the discussion pointing to the relevance of integration and inclusion in Europe and the many challenges facing countries today in this regard. “We still need a common vision regarding what we want to achieve,” he said.
The debate followed on the heels of a closed round table discussion on integration and inclusion earlier in the day. During 2016, RWI will be convening a number of round tables aimed at providing a forum for the development of evidence based tools and policies for promoting human rights based inclusion in the Nordic and Baltic States.
The European and Finnish perspectives
At the public panel debate, Agnese Papadia, Policy Officer of the Department of Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission, was the first speaker to address the issue from a regional perspective: “Efforts in education are critical,” she said.
She said allowing asylum seekers to prove their skills at the workplace is an efficient solution in cases when they cannot prove their skills by other means. And she said it would help them avoid long periods of inactivity as well.
“The real challenge is to have a long-term solution for integration,” she said. “It’s not an easy moment, considering the current political environment in Europe, to show the benefits of migration.”
Johanaa Suurpää, the Director of the Unit for Democracy, Language Affairs and Fundamental Rights of the Ministry of Justice of Finland, presented insights from the current situation in Finland from a legal and social point of view. “We are lacking a real discussion on how we are going to integrate newly arrived asylum seekers,” she said.
She also reminded the audience of the many international instruments by which Finland and other countries are bound, emphasizing the Convention on the Rights of the Child in reference to the situation of asylum-seekers. “Don’t forget,” she said, “that the state is a duty bearer.”
Moving from a regional and state-wide perspective, to a local one, Sanne Cederstam shared her experience with integration from the city of Malmö, Sweden. The Project Leader for Plugin 2.0 for the city of Malmö, she talked about her project that focuses on recently arrived pupils. Its main purpose is to keep children at school. “If you drop out of school, you are most likely to be out of society,” said Sanne.
To keep more children in school, different activities are organized to help these children feel like full members of society. “Leisure time and education are rights established in the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” she said.
The event was supported by a grant from the Foundation Open Society Institute in cooperation with OSIFE of the Open Society Foundation.
It was co-organized with the Association of Foreign Affairs in Lund.