4 July 2017
Events, Publications Contribute to Process on a Global Compact on Migration
Photo by IISD/ENB
story highlights

The tenth edition of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) called for comprehensive approaches to migration to address development, human rights and security concerns.

In preparation for a global compact, UN regional organization are developing a series of background papers and hosting regional preparatory meetings on migration topics.

OECD launched a report on migration that urges integration of immigrants and refugees to deliver a more prosperous, inclusive future for all.

29 June 2017: Recent events and publications highlight migration’s positive benefits as well as efforts to move towards a global compact on migration and development. The Global Forum on Migration and Development called for safe, orderly and regular migration options to address development, human rights and security concerns. UN regional commissions have released a document mapping preparatory regional events for the global compact on migration. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) launched a report on migration that emphasizes the importance of improving the integration of immigrants and refugees in achieving a more prosperous, inclusive future for all.

A global compact on migration and development is expected to be adopted at an intergovernmental conference in 2018. The proposed compact will be the first UN intergovernmental agreement covering all dimensions of international migration; among its aims are to strengthen the contribution of migrants and migration to sustainable development.

The tenth edition of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) emphasized integrated approaches, policy coherence among levels of government, political leadership, and international cooperation to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration. In a keynote address, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, Louise Arbour, said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN Charter and the international human rights framework offer a framework for a global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration, cautioning against “temptation to reinvent the wheel.” International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Director-General, William Lacy Swing, urged a shift from “reactive, unidimensional approaches” to migration governance towards a comprehensive approach that addresses migration’s relationship to development, climate change, humanitarian and peace and security issues. International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder emphasized migrants’ contributions to society, calling for better recognition of their experiences and skills to enable migrants to reach their full potential.

Participants also called for, inter alia: removing the “toxicity” from the debate; expanding legal pathways that protect migrants and refugees; and reducing the incidence and impacts of forced and irregular migration; and responding to the mobility impacts of natural and human-made disasters. The Forum, which focused on the theme, ‘Towards a Global Social Contract on Migration and Development,’ convened from 28-30 June 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The UN established the GFMD in 2007 as an informal, non-binding and government-led venue for high-level discussions on the migration-development nexus. The session’s outcomes will contribute to an ongoing process of forging a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

On preparations for a global compact, UN regional commissions have released a document that provides updates on the organizations of regional consultations and the development of thematic background papers to support the preparatory process of a global compact. In Resolution 71/280 (2017), the UN General Assembly (UNGA) requests the regional commissions to organize discussions among member states and relevant stakeholders to examine the regional and sub-regional aspects of international migration and provide inputs for a global compact as well as to produce a series of knowledge products on six themes.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) will prepare six background papers aligned with the six themes of the global compact process: human rights; drivers of migration; migration governance; diasporas; human trafficking; and irregular migration. A consolidated report on migration in Africa will be produced by October 2017. The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) will prepare three background papers on the ‘migratory situation and prirorities for action’ for each of subregion (South America, Central America and Mexico and the Caribbean). The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) will prepare background papers on labour migration, irregular and mixed migration and climate change and migration. The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) will launch a 2017 Situation Report on International Migration in the Arab Region focused on achieving migration-related SDGs in the Arab Region. The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is still discussing consultations in the region. The regional commissions’ background papers are expected to be released in August 2017.

OECD’s report, titled ‘International Migration Outlook 2017,’ finds the number of people migrating to OECD countries has risen for the third year in a row and identifies humanitarian migration as the main driver behind continued increases in migrant numbers. The report showcases examples of Sweden’s “fast-track” integration programme, Germany’s first law on integration and programs in Belgium, France and Finland, among others, urging other governments to step up integration efforts and enact reforms that focus on all migrants. The 2017 Outlook features a special focus on family migration that identifies challenges policymakers face in devising rules and conditions for family migration. The report recommends that governments urgently prioritize family migration issues.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría underscored the need for better international cooperation to address negative perceptions on migration during the report’s launch event. He concluded that well-managed migration brings skills, diversity and economic potential to host countries and migrants. Gurría launched the report with the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos. Avramopoulos also highlighted the benefits of regular and orderly migration and mobility, saying family migration and work represent two important legal migration channels in the EU. He urged comprehensive integration strategies to ensure migration provides positive benefits for host societies and migrants.

Also on migration, the ILO’s 106th International Labour Conference held a general discussion on labour migration, which concluded, inter alia, that well-governed labour migration can yield many positive benefits. [IOM Press Release on Opening] [IOM Director-General Statement] [ILO Secretary-General Statement] [GFMD Website] [Regional Commission Mapping] [OECD Press Release] [OECD Secretary-General Statement] [EC Commissioner Statement] [Publication: International Migration Outlook 2017] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on ILO Gender Report and Labor Conference]

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