On behalf of the Metropolis International Steering Committee, we take great pleasure in being able to welcome you to the 2017 International Metropolis Conference. We, at Metropolis, are very grateful to the City of The Hague for hosting us, and we are delighted to be back in this city whose fortunate guests we were for our successful conference in 2010.
Although we are back in The Hague, The Netherlands, we are back with a difference. This conference will be held in a time of uncertainty. Not only are we witnessing immense population movements, notably refugees coming from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Libya, we are also observing an unprecedented backlash against immigration. Many governments are increasingly hesitant to welcome people from abroad, whether they are refugees and asylum seekers, family members, or high or low-skilled men and women looking for a job. At the same time, nationalist, populist and often anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, or anti-diversity movements are gaining political clout, and they are fundamentally changing the political landscape, both at the supranational, national, and local levels. These developments challenge our routines, require fundamental reflection, and beg for new policy responses. These are matters to take seriously, and our job at Metropolis is to understand these phenomena, understand these concerns, and find solutions that enhance the benefits of international migration to our societies, our economies, our cultures, to the migrants, and to their homelands.
As with each of our events, this year’s conference will highlight what we hope are fully contemporary topics that will stimulate new ideas about the phenomena associated with modern migration. The Metropolis model places a premium on bringing the policy, academic, and civil society sectors together to confront the issues responsibly and to generate ideas, analysis, and advice of lasting value.
This year’s location is perfect. The rich experiences of the City of Peace and Justice, The Hague, will be instructive to all of us. We hope that you are able to take in some of this rich experience and apply it to your own work on migration and the integration of migrants.
We are very excited about the discussions at this conference, and we aspire to making a constructive contribution to the worldwide debate about international migration and the diversity that it brings to our populations, a contribution that we will continue to make at our conference next year in Sydney, Australia.
The Hague is not only the political centre of the Netherlands - as it has been for centuries - it is also a city where the whole world is at home, in many different ways. In this context I like to welcome you in September 2017 as visitors to the International Metropolis Conference.
The Hague has always been an open city, since time immemorial. A city without walls, both literally and figuratively. It was because The Hague never had city walls that it was able to expand and become the international city it is today. Almost every language is spoken in The Hague and well-nigh every faith practised. You can simply feel the wind of tolerance In The Hague, blowing in from the sea. The Hague is a city brimming with creativity and culture. Home to over half a million people; people with roots in many different countries and cultures, all of whom belong in The Hague.
Since the end of the nineteenth century, The Hague has steadily evolved into the international city of peace and justice that it is today. More than thirty-seven thousand people work here, day in, day out, to create the world we all want to have: a peaceful, just and safe world. A world in which the rule of law prevails rather than the rule of the jungle and where those who think they can flout human rights are called to account.
The presence of the many international legal institutions in The Hague has also enabled it to develop into a repository of knowledge that is not only growing every, but also put into practice every day. The latest additions to this family of institutions are Leiden University College The Hague, the University of Peace and The Hague Institute for Global Justice.
The Dutch Constitution states that it is the duty of our country to promote the international rule of law. This ‘Vocation of Holland’ is also The Hague’s vocation: we will do everything within our power to strengthen the international rule of law to foster peace and safety throughout the world. It is enshrined in the maxim ‘Vrede en Recht’ (Peace and Justice) that was added to The Hague’s official coat of arms by royal decree.
The city of The Hague is honoured to be hosting the 2017 International Metropolis Conference from Monday 18th until Friday 22nd September 2017. We hope you will join us in a programme aimed at informing you about the enrichment of diversity in spite of the challenges we might face.