ILO COOP presents on the role of cooperatives in overcoming refugee and migrant precarity in a side event at the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council

News | 27 September 2017

On 20 September, a seminar on "Overcoming Refugee and Migrant Precarity: What Role for Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE)" was organized by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) and the University of Geneva as an official side event at the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The seminar brought together representatives and participants from international organizations, governments and academia to explore the role of SSE in promoting human rights and fostering social inclusion and livelihoods of migrants and refugee populations in the face of austerity measures and large movements of people.

The ILO participated in the seminar, presenting on the role of cooperatives in providing basic services (housing, food, clothing and language skills) as well as labour market integration for migrants and refugees. The presentation looked at cooperatives’ response in host countries using a typology of old and new cooperatives in host countries and cooperatives of migrants and refugees in host countries and upon return to their own countries. The cases of two social cooperatives, Cooperativa Ruah in Bergamo, Italy and WELCOMMON in Athens, Greece were also highlighted along with ILO initiatives engaging cooperatives in different countries for migrants and refugees.

Among the other speakers on the panel were delegates from the Permanent Mission of Greece, University of Geneva, UNRISD and UNHCR. The panellists shared some ongoing and upcoming initiatives such as MADE51 by UNHCR, a collaborative initiative to link refugee artisans with global markets, and “Social and Solidarity Economy, Urban Communities and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups”, a new UNRISD research project in collaboration with the University of Geneva.

Questions were raised from the audience around SSE in Greece and the role of SSE interventions beyond the crisis context. At the end of the session the panel participants agreed that they would follow up to coordinate with each other on their ongoing and upcoming SSE initiatives.