IOM’s Engagement in the Global Compact for Migration


York Declaration on 19 September 2016 made an historic contribution to forging consensus on managing the world's movements of migrants and refugees. It expresses the recognition by world leaders of the need for a comprehensive approach to human mobility and enhanced cooperation at the global level to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale.

It also provided for the development of two global compacts to be adopted in 2018: a global compact on refugees and a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

The development of the global compact for migration has dominated the international migration agenda in the past year. It is expected to foster deeper collaboration, not only between Member States, but also with non-state actors, to ensure that migrants benefit from the full range of the Sustainable Development Goals, including for example, access to health, education, decent work and gender empowerment. Indeed, the linkages between migration and development have been an important area of thematic focus during the consultation phase of the global compact. Some of the key messages that were heard highlighted the importance of empowering migrants as agents for development; linking migration policies and legislation to commitments and objectives from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and fostering the development effects of migration at the local level.

The International Organization for Migration's (IOM) role in the global compact process is to provide policy and technical expertise to Member States and others involved in its development, as called for in the modalities resolution. IOM is drawing on its global footprint, its close relationships with governments, its extensive partnerships with the UN and other stakeholders, and its ability to convene different migration actors to contribute to achieving a principled, practical and balanced global compact.

Throughout the consultation phase, IOM's global network of field offices supported and assisted governments to convene diverse multi-stakeholder consultations at the national level. Fifty national consultations took place between April and November last year. These consultations helped to create awareness among national-level stakeholders about the global compact and supported them to reflect on their priorities and to formulate positions.

In some countries, preparations for these national consultations were supported through the IOM-led global programme on Mainstreaming Migration into National Development Strategies, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). For example, in Morocco national consultations included a specific focus on migration and development, and this led to a number of recommendations being put forth to support the potential for local actors to become agents for development.

 The importance of engaging at the local level in support of migration and development objectives was also emphasised in other fora. In November last year, the Global Conference on Cities and Migration co-organized by IOM, UN Habitat, United Cities and Local Governments, the City of Mechelen and the Government of Belgium, adopted the Mechelen Declaration. This made recommendations to strengthen vertical policy coherence across government levels to ensure that local and regional authorities are empowered by national governments in their capacity as migration first responders and service providers.

 If there is a clear overall message to take away from the rich discussions during the consultation phase for the global compact for migration it is this:  migration and migrants bring significant benefits to individuals and societies, but those benefits can only be fully realized through well-managed migration policies developed and implemented with the inclusion of all actors and through fundamentally improved cooperation and solidarity. Now is our collective chance to make this happen. 

Katie Colven works with IOM, Geneva. This article is first published in Swiss mdplatform’s Newsletter