The 2015 GFMD: More of the Same or a Renewed Commitment by CSOs?

The 2015 GFMD: More of the Same or a Renewed Commitment by CSOs?


​​Mirela Shuteriqi, Thematic Advisor, Lausanne, Switzerland, Terre des hommes

Since 2006, the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) has provided an opportunity to discuss migration and development at the international level. Though the process remains state-led, it also gives an opportunity for civil society organisations (CSOs) to gather globally and discuss the subject for two days prior to the government program. Starting from 2010, CSOs and governments also exchanged together during a Common Space.
In October this year, Turkey hosted the 8th GFMD and related Civil Society Days (CSDs). This year GFMD was particularly relevant to CSOs. On one side, the newly adopted 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda recognises the positive role of migration in development and gives new impetus to CSOs’ efforts. On the other hand, 2015 was another dangerous and deadly year for migrants moving across borders in search of safety, new opportunities, or a better life. Against this background, over 300 representatives of CSOs were invited to attend the GFMD CSD. They represented migrants’ associations and diaspora (95 delegates), human rights (85) and development (58) organisations, academia (37) and the private sector (7). All regions were represented, with 30 countries from Asia, 20 form Africa, 23 from Europe and 22 countries from the Americas.

What did CSOs discuss in Istanbul?
In line with the government discussion theme and concept paper, the CSD in Istanbul were organized around the theme of ‘Achieving Migration and Development Goals: Movement Together on Global Solutions and Local Action’. Under this theme, discussions were structured around four workshops on the following subjects: a)the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda; b)migrants in crisis; c) migrants’ empowerment and human development, and; d) labour mobility.
Though many of the discussions by CSOs were similar to those in previous GFMD CSDs, a few new dynamics came out strongly.  

  1. Efforts towards coherence: With the adoption in 2013 of the 5 year, 8 Point Action Plan for Collaboration, civil society’s joint efforts became better structured. This year, a further step was undertaken by assessing implementation of the Action Plan so far. The preliminary findings of the monitoring report were presented and discussed during the CSD.  The message was clear: CSOs are serious in their commitment and make corresponding investments in follow-up and monitoring
  2. Place for innovation: In the Action Plan, protection of the rights of women and children in the context of migration and development is only one of 8 points, but this year, women’s and children’s rights were discussed in all workshops.  A specific rapporteur on children and another on women shared a summary of these discussions in the last plenary, together with a number of recommendations and next steps  
  3. A comprehensive right-based framework: CSOs urged fair labour recruitment procedures for migrants and full respect of their labour rights. Some governments’ steps to better regulate labour recruitment were welcomed by CSOs. In addition, this year’s GFMD CSDs also strongly emphasized the importance of more traditional political and civil rights of migrants. CSOs said “no” to the categorisation of migrants and called instead for an approach addressing vulnerabilities and respecting the human rights of all migrants. The recently established state led initiative on migrants in crisis, MICIC, was discussed. It aims to give practical guidelines for the application of international human rights law in the form of non-binding guidelines that set out principles and roles of different stakeholders vis-a-vis migrants in acute crisis. As migration management which respects human rights remains a challenge, the CSOs called upon governments to continue working together
  4. The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda:  The agenda was discussed at length during the CSDs. It is written in the spirit of leaving no one behind. Migration, the positive contribution of migrants into development, and the conditions required to enable it, are clearly elaborated in the objectives and targets agreed. CSOs thus have a strong advocacy tool and discussions in Istanbul therefore aimed at concrete recommendations on the role of CSOs and their translation into national level monitoring implementation. While governments struggle to ensure that migration management respects human rights, CSOs in Istanbul called for joint governance and an equal space in translating the 2030 Agenda into national policies, in implementation and in monitoring.

Migration and Development and Swiss CSOs
Swiss civil society is also getting better organised. Recently, a new collaborative platform for civil society organisations interested in migration and development was launched. This platform ( provides an excellent opportunity to jointly participate in and contribute to international policy dialog, and provides a bridge between the global and national levels. The platform coordination structure participated in the 2015 GFMD CSDs, together with the African Diaspora Council of Switzerland, UNIA Labour Union, Terre des Hommes and Studien- und Bildungszentrum für Migrationsfragen. In addition to contributing to international processes like the GFMD, the platform will invest in exchange and information sharing, capacity building of members and policy dialog on migration and development and other issues related to the 2030 SDGs with the Swiss Government.

Related resources:

Website of the Swiss Civil Society on Migration & Development:

Global Forum on Migration and Development – Civil Society and the Civil Society’s Chair Report of the 2015 GFMD: 

The 5-year Action Plan for Collaboration

The report on the 8th Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) mandated by the to Terre des Hommes (see attachment):