Home / Uncategorized / Introducing the Chair and Co-Chair of Civil Society at the 2014 Global Forum on Migration and Development


Stockholm 9 May 2014 – Recognizing the day-to-day synergies of migrant rights and diaspora action, and the value of working with local authorities and the private sector, civil society worldwide is pleased to welcome Michele LeVoy and Gibril Faal as Chair and Co-chair of this year’s Civil Society Days of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), 12- 14 May in Stockholm, Sweden. This is the third GFMD in a row where both the civil society chair and co-chair are themselves migrants, and the first GFMD in which a private sector actor has assumed such leadership of civil society at the GFMD.

Ms. LeVoy and Mr. Faal are well-known for their active and leading roles in civil society and government processes both within and outside the UN system, from the International Labour Organization, Human Rights Council and UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development to the International Organization for Migration, the European Commission and the GFMD.  Michele and Gibril are fluent in conversation and cooperation with governments, academia and the private sector as well as with partners in civil society, in national capitals but also on the ground where migration and development actually happen.

2014 civil society Chair:  Ms. Michele LeVoy

_small_MicheleLeVoyBorn in the middle of the United States, dual citizen of the Unites States and Ireland, a migrant to Belgium and interestingly, with a French-Canadian family name derived from “voice”, Michele LeVoy is the director of PICUM, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants.  PICUM is a leading global network of member organizations that works for better practices and policies on rights and quality of life issues of migrants regardless of their immigration status.

“The costs of exclusion from services greatly surpass those of inclusion. Inclusive measures that address the realities at local and regional level and invest in the fundamental rights of all persons and universal access to essential services are vital to reduce poverty and social exclusion, improve social cohesion, increase equality and generate inclusive growth.” – Michele LeVoy 21 March 2013, regarding European Commission Recommendation ‘Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage’, adopted 20 February 2013

Working since 2001 with PICUM’s Brussels-based staff, members and partners worldwide, Ms. LeVoy has expanded the organization’s leadership in advocating, monitoring and raising awareness among global, European and local institutions, including municipal authorities, police and justice officials, and health services.  Under her leadership, PICUM has authored or collaborated on ground-breaking and acclaimed research on access to healthcare and justice, protection of migrant workers, specific vulnerabilities of women and of children in contexts of migration, and practical remedies including regularization programmes.

“The principle of safeguarding decent and fair working conditions, such as fair remuneration, compensation for work accidents and rest periods for all workers, including domestic workers and undocumented workers, is well-established in international law instruments. But structural barriers that prevent vulnerable migrant workers from pursuing legal remedies and bringing their perpetrators to justice contribute to a culture of impunity for exploitation of undocumented migrants.” – Michele LeVoy to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers, Geneva, 7 April 2013

Michele has long served on the board of Migrants Rights International, and for many years as chair. She has been an active member of the international civil society committees organizing for GFMD meetings since 2012 and the High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development at the UN General Assembly in 2013. Before joining PICUM, she was coordinator of an international Master Degree program in human ecology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and coordinator of a European multicultural society youth program at Pax Christi International. She has worked with resettled refugees in Chicago, USA, and with migrants in Brazil. She holds a Bachelor degree in French and Justice and Peace Studies from the University of St. Thomas, US, and a Master in Applied Sciences (Housing and Development Program) from the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium.

2014 civil society Co-chair:  Mr. Gibril Faal

DSC_1940A migrant to the United Kingdom from the Gambia, Gibril Faal wears a range of impressive hats—Mr.Faal has worked as a diaspora leader and practitioner, management consultant, business adviser and University lecturer for over 15 years, in private, public and charitable sector development.

Gibril brings to the Global Forum political, practical and programme experience in the real-world intersections of diaspora and development. He is currently Chair of the diaspora organization African Foundation for Development (AFFORD), based in the United Kingdom, There he leads a range of activities in Europe and Africa to expand the role of diaspora in African development. Since the first High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development at the UN in 2006, Gibril and colleagues from AFFORD have been prominent speakers and organizers in global, regional and national meetings on diaspora and development.


“I see migrants, with constrained resources and pressured circumstances, extract their families from poverty within a generation. I see governments, multilateral agencies and NGOs with massive resources and state privileges admit the self-evident failures of combating chronic poverty. I am a simple man. I make a deduction, perhaps these migrants know how to do development.” – Gibril Faal, addressing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 160 governments and civil society at the High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development, UN General Assembly, New York 3 October 2013.

Mr. Faal is also the founder of RemitAid™ – a programme to transform remittances into a sustainable form of international development finance using tax reliefs and other macroeconomic policies.

In the private sector, Mr. Faal is director of the private firm GK Partners in London, which advises businesses on ethical business models, social enterprise, legal structures, ethical and Islamic finance, corporate responsibility and governance.

“I look out into the room, everywhere I see migrants; itinerant diplomats, first generation emigrants, and the many descendants of migrants, who constitute diasporas in different parts of the world. Sir, this place is full of them!” – Gibril Faal to the UN General Assembly, 3 October 2013.

Gibril has led projects and written papers on a wide range of political economy, business management and international development themes. Working on a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-funded project, he was one of the pioneers of social enterprise business support delivery in the UK. In June 2006, he was appointed to undertake the independent impact evaluation of University of Oxford’s Centre for Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS).