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Soft Security and Migration

The conference Soft Security and Migration in the Baltic Sea Region, held in Helsinki 30 – 31 May 2017, was planned to address one of the priorities identified by the CBSS Deputy Foreign Ministers in the “Warsaw Declaration – Regional responses to global challenges” along with the annex relating to the CBSS activities which was adopted in Warsaw on 8 June 2016. The Declaration reflects the joint position on the directions in which the CBSS should move in the future, in particular how the CBSS should contribute to addressing key challenges in the Baltic Sea Region.

See the full agenda here.

One of the most pressing challenges identified was migration: the Warsaw Declaration recommends using the existing networks, expertise and structures in the region and proposes to place further focus on issues of soft security, including in relation to the fight against trafficking in human beings. In light of the current migration situation, the need for integration of migrants is specifically highlighted, as well as the importance to enhance dialogue and cooperation between all levels of governance (national, regional and local) and civil society organizations, businesses and academia, with a focus on identifying and disseminating best practices and lessons learned regarding effective migration governance and  implementation of integration policies.

The conference focused solely on forced and irregular migration, that is asylum seekers, refugees, trafficked persons and those irregularly present, or without secure legal status, within the borders of a state. In the past two years, the Baltic Sea Region has faced a new migration reality caused by a record number of asylum applications submitted in many countries in the region in 2015. This situation has and continues to pose a significant challenge for the national and local authorities as regards border control, security issues, reception of forced migrants, identification of victims of trafficking, and integration policy among other issues.

The purpose of the conference was to discuss and analyze how this situation has been addressed by state and municipal entities such as border guards, law enforcement agencies, immigration authorities, migration services and other service providers, as well as civil protection agencies and non-governmental organizations in order to identify approaches and measures taken that have been effective, that is promising practices, and lessons learned from mistakes made in order to build better resilience towards such pressures in the future, and positively contribute to improving existing policies. To conduct this discussion and analysis, representatives of governmental agencies and services, local authorities and civil society organizations were brought together to share experiences & assessments and have a dialogue with the aim to formulate policy recommendations for key stakeholders for further actions and policy development to build resilience and security and reduce vulnerability with focus on prevention, engagement and integration.

The experts participating in the conference and the working groups focused on identifying such underlying elements and suggest how they can be modelled into practices promoting social cohesion and soft security. Additionally, the aim was to identify areas where increased transnational and cross-sectoral cooperation is useful.

The final report was written by Anders Lisborg, Bjarney Friðriksdóttir, Magdalena Lesińska and Morten Lisborg and addresses (1) the impact of migration on host societies & challenges of early integration; (2) migration management from a soft security perspective and (3) the safeguarding of the right os migrants.

Read the full report here.