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Malinas: the epitome of inclusion

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In an article published on May 25th, El País highlights the vast multicultural mosaic of Malinas, a Belgian city situated just 25 kilometres away from Brussels whose citizenry is made up of 128 different nationalities and religions. In times of pressing terrorist threats and constant polarization, the official records show that this particular city has managed to keep its Muslim residents away from joining radicalized ISIS forces in Syria. This relative success can be explained by a “carrot and stick” approach that has focused on providing more resources to the police, more security cameras and, most importantly, comprehensive initiatives of inclusion. These initiatives include after-school centres for vulnerable youth, investments in public spaces and no-segregation policies for the development of living spaces.

The author includes the testimony of Alexander Van Leuven, an anthropologist specialized in anti-radicalization who claims that what makes Malinas different in terms of inclusiveness is the fact that everyone within the community is considered to be a valuable citizen, regardless of his or her background or financial means. The egalitarian strategy of the city ensures that anyone with talent and hard work can have a worthy future. In the words of its Mayor, Bart Somers, the key is to leave behind the clichés of seeing Muslims as either victims or criminals and moving forward with an inclusive vision where everyone has the opportunity of a prosperous life.

The Salaam Mechelen project, an initiative started in 1995, perfectly exemplifies this vision. The gist of the project is to use soccer as a means to unite the community: players of all nationalities and origins who are required to display exemplary academic performances in order to play and get together to enjoy the activity in an atmosphere of respect for the rival.

Malinas, the “city of hope”, demonstrates that having an integrated and cohesive society is not only possible under the right policies of inclusiveness, but also highly desirable.

To see the original article in Spanish, click here.

*Featured image by Demi Alvarez.

New OECD Report on Migration and Public Policy


The OECD recently released a report entitled Interrelations between Public Policies, Migration and Development. Launched at the UN headquarters in New York City, the report is based on field research and empirical analysis conducted in ten low and middle-income countries. More than 20,000 households, representing over 100,000 individuals, were involved in the study. Countries studied include Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Costa Rica, the Ivory Coast, Haiti, Morocco, and the Philippines, among others. The extensive document details the dual relationship between migratory flows and public policy by looking at factors like education, investment, agriculture, and labour market trends.

The OECD findings highlight the influence of specific public policies on migratory ¨outcomes¨ including remittances, cultural integration, and the decision whether to migrate or return. The report identifies numerous policy areas where governments are failing to implement coherent strategies that align with their migration goals. Poor vocational training, low rates of financial inclusion and literacy, and the denial of regular status to immigrants are some examples of this failure.

The report points out that in many developing countries, immigrant heads with regular migration status are more likely to own a business. One nation that it refers to specifically is the Dominican Republic, a place where Club de Madrid has focused much attention as part of its Shared Society Project joint initiative together the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM-RD), a Government body within the Dominican Home Affairs Minister. The CdM and the INM-RD have championed a humanitarian approach during a recent High Level Mission led by former President of Spain and Club de Madrid Member, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, championing a comprehensive and humane approach to the issue of migrants, emphasizing the need to recognize their inalienable rights and to not treat them as second-class citizens.

The Shared Societies Project took part in a session at the OECD on October 2016 to review the draft of the document and highlight the positive impact of an approach to policy formulation which involves both the migrant and host communities. It has also been in touch with OECD Migration Unit planning a potential collaboration in the Dominican Republic as both organizations agree on promoting an inclusive migration approach in the country.

Vike-Freiberga explains Club de Madrid’s ‘Shared Vision of a Shared Society’ at the Hufftington Post

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The future of the United Kingdom is uncertain, as the challenges of a post-Brexit reality need to be faced and editorials compete in their predictions of the course the United Kingdom will take under its new prime minister.

As such, it was an encouraging sign for many, especially within the Club de Madrid, when PM Theresa May seemed to adopt the concept of Shared Society, long championed by the Club de Madrid, in a speech drawing up her plans for the future of the islands. Club de Madrid’s President, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, penned an essay in the Huffington Post in response, which doubled down on the values that Shared Societies embodies: “when everyone is involved and encouraged, they become an asset to society and a contributor to the common good, rather than being a drain or a liability”.  It also emphasized that in order to be effective, governments all across the ideological spectrum need to support it, not imposing it but rather enabling it.  The Prime Minister’s speech has sparked a welcome debate about the concept in the UK media.  For example Frances Ryan in the Guardian gave her own views of the policy changes that would be required to create a Shared Society here.

Please to find Vaira Vike-Freiberga’s article in the following link.

Although the United Kingdom is sailing in uncharted waters, we at the Club of Madrid feel confident that there could be no better guiding principles for a nation seeking to reinvent itself than those of our Shared Societies Project and we are open to opportunities to share the insights that the Members have gained over the years.


Professor Reddy On the True Nature of a Shared Society

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In a blog post written late last week, Professor Sanjay Reddy attempted to address the question, ¨What is a Shared Society?¨ His writing explores the limits of current approaches to human rights and stresses the importance of cultivating pervasive,common humanity in order to make progress in community building.
Attributing the advancement of the Shared Society concept directly to Club de Madrid, Reddy suggests that a Shared Society is composed of three themes: individual dignity, a recognition of social pluralism, and collective responsiblity. Reddy writes:

¨Understood in these terms, the idea, and ideal, of a Shared Society can be applied on any scale.¨

Reddy echoes a core principle of the Shared Societies Project, saying that

any successful initiative ¨must be grounded in an idea of shared responsibility that can motívate the campaigners and society at large.¨

Reddy is an Associate Professor of Economics at the New School for Social Research in New York. He also Works as a research associate for Columbia University´s Initiative for Policy Dialogue. He has worked as a Fellow at Harvard University´s Center for Ethics and Center for Population and Development Studies. Reddy is an independent adviser to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, and is a co-founder of the Global Consumption and Income Project.
His post came just two days after he joined Club de Madrid member Roza Otunbayeva, and others, as part of a high-level UN panel discussion on the role of Shared Societies in the fight against global poverty.
A link to Professor Reddy´s blog post is posted here.

After the shocks of 2016, the world risks turning inwards. Here’s how that can be avoided


Simon O’Connell, Executive Director of Mercy Corps Europe, published a few days ago an article about global challenges of 2016. You can read it in the following link. The article’s main idea is that we as individuals and as civil society organizations have a responsibility to listen to different opinions, build bridges and to find common ground between different groups in particular those excluded from globalisation benefits.

He argued that “to ensure no-one is excluded from global prosperity and opportunity is as relevant now as it ever was”  and suggested that “we have a responsibility to do better (…) based on principles of Shared Societies and respect for others” including a hyperlink to the Shared Societies Good Practices Guide.

We are pleased to see Mr. O`Connell’s remarks align closely with those of the Club de Madrid´s Shared Society Project (SSP), which seeks to build an inclusive and safe society, especially when he highlights the important point about the roots of disaffection and growing disparity in our societies.

We have recently developed a fruitful collaboration with Mercy Corps within the Shared Societies Project activities in Myanmar organizing a joint roundtable on interfaith dialogue this year. You can find further information in the following link. We will be meeting Simon in January to deepen our co-operation and continue working to find common objectives to strengthen Social Inclusion and “to ensure no-one is excluded”.

This post was originally post at the World Economic Forum website. It was was written by Simon O’Connell Executive Director, Mercy Corps Europe.

Image: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem


“A lack of integration undermines the sense that there is such a thing as “the common life” in our cities”

Khan London

In an age when division and polarization seem to be the norm in globalization, London’s Sadiq Khan is passionately advocating for a more integrated society. Speaking at City Hall on November 14th at the Mayor of London’s Social Integration Conference, Khan commented in front of an audience of mayors from around the globe on the need for integration in society:

A lack of integration undermines the sense that there is such a thing as “the common life” in our cities; It breeds mistrust, it grows anxiety and the fear of crime, and it can fuel the development of division.

He warned his fellow mayors against a lax approach to solving the issues of division in cities, commenting “A hands-off approach to social integration simply doesn´t work.” He elaborated that:

Promoting social integration must mean assuring that people of different faiths, ethnicities, social backgrounds, and generations don’t just tolerate one another or live side by side, but actually meet and mix with one another on a genuine level and connect in meaningful ways. Perhaps as friends and neighbours as well as citizens.

More than just commenting on the moral need for integration within cities, Khan spoke on the tangible benefits of social integration. He commented on this, saying that social integration “can help reduce mental health issues, it can stop the vulnerable from becoming isolated, and it can enable people to contribute fully to their community, increasing social mobility and helping people develop new skills and fulfil their potential.”

As a first step the Mayor of London mentioned “spreading greater understanding of the problem within cities, administrations and communities” adding that “there is no one project that will fix this, it will require work and effort across the board”.
We are pleased to see Mr. Khan’s remarks align closely with those of the Club de Madrid´s Shared Society Project (SSP), which seeks to build an inclusive and safe society that respects diversity and protects human dignity, especially when he makes the important point that it is not enough to tolerate people living side by side.


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