Speaker examines migration

Dr. Mamphela Ramphele said she believes the tide of globalization must “lift many more boats” before world leaders can begin to fight the root causes of poverty, at a lecture yesterday in Henry Luce Hall.

Ramphele, a South African activist and former director of the World Bank, discussed human movement across borders and the need to develop a global migration policy that will help both developed and developing countries make the most of their resources. About 70 people attended the Ramphele’s lecture, “Human Mobility: Challenges and Opportunities for the Globalizing World.”

People in all areas of the world must accept that today’s globalized society requires the free movement of migrants across borders, Ramphele said, in the same way that nineteenth and twentieth century cultures came to accept the free movement of goods and services.

“We can no longer expect to live in homogenous societies,” she said. “But people continue to think that they should.”

Ramphele has been working with the Global Commission on International Migration to investigate the consequences of increased human mobility. The group recently published a report, “Migration in an Interconnected World: New Directions for Action,” which Ramphele discussed during her lecture.

Labor-rich poor countries are relatively isolated from resource-poor rich countries, Ramphele said, which is stunting the world economy and keeping developing countries trapped in their poverty.

“The global economy has failed to take advantage of the opportunities that global migration offers,” she said.

All countries must draft coherent and cooperative migration policies, Ramphele said, before the free movement of people across borders can be truly global. Ramphele said she is concerned about the conflict between developing and developed countries over immigration laws, as well as internal disagreements over national security. These obstructions impede the pooling of resources necessary to create coherent migration policy, she said.

Ramphele has been an activist since the 1970s, when she became involved as a student in the Black Consciousness Movement against South African apartheid. She was banished in 1977 by South Africa’s National Party government to a rural area of the country — where she established a community health program — and returned to Cape Town in 1984.

In 1996, Ramphele became the first black female Vice-Chancellor in South Africa at the University of Cape Town, and in 2000 became the first African managing director of the World Bank. This May, she received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Yale at commencement.

“She’s been an inspiring leader, not just for South Africa but for all people interested in development,” said Derek Yach, a professor of global health at the Yale School of Public Health.

Raquel Thompson ’06 said she thought Ramphele’s lecture was presented well, but that it avoided the main issue facing migration — although everyone intellectually agrees that borders should be opened, Thompson said, there is still conflict over the specifics.

“She definitely hit all the key points,” she said, “[but] the practicalities need to be addressed a little more.”

Ramphele’s visit was scheduled as part of the George Herbert Walker, Jr. Lecture in International Studies annual lecture series.

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