International Initiatives and Fora

International Initiatives and Fora

New initiatives to strengthen international dialogue, cooperation and ultimately understanding of migration and development have emerged and are yielding concrete results. Such initiatives seek to address the lacking elements in the present international migration context. They call upon countries to review their obligations towards migrants, refugees and IDPs, and also to reinforce their obligations towards one another and to cooperate more thoroughly and systematically on these issues. In most cases, such initiatives also attempt to extend their scope to cover multiple aspects of migration. Many initiatives have resulted from the actions of international organisations, governments and/or civil society actors.

The nexus between migration and development was addressed for the first time at the UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994. Thereafter, it was the Berne Initiative in 2001 that subsequently led to an intensified international debate: in 2003 the Global Commission on International Migration was brought into being and in 2006 the issue was discussed for the first time at a UN high-level dialogue. In the following year, the Global Forum on Migration and Development was launched, which is the most important institution among a number of international initiatives and regional consultative processes on migration and development. Nowadays, the central multilateral organisations dealing with migration constitute the Global Migration Group.

International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)

In 1994, 179 countries gathered in Cairo, Egypt, for the Third International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Population Division of the United Nations Secretariat (UNPD). The Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD PoA) constituted a landmark achievement, establishing a 20-year progressive action plan and creating a comprehensive basis for national and international action on population and development issues, including internal and international migration. The conference's 'summary of the programme of action' states that 'orderly international migration can have positive effects on both communities of origin and those of destination'.

Berne Initiative

In June 2001, the Swiss government, in cooperation with other entities, launched what is known as the 'Berne Initiative', a states-owned consultative process with the goal of bringing about better management of migration at the regional and global levels through cooperation between states. It is intended to enable governments from all regions in the world to share their different policy priorities and identify their long-term interests in migration. Moreover, it offers an opportunity to develop a common orientation to migration management based on notions of cooperation, partnership, comprehensiveness, balance and predictability.

The most important outcome of the Berne Initiative process is the International Agenda for Migration Management (IAMM), a reference system and non-binding policy framework aimed at facilitating cooperation between states in planning and managing the movement of people in a humane and orderly way.

Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM)

The GCIM was launched by the United Nations Secretary-General and a number of governments, led by Switzerland and Sweden, on 9 December 2003 in Geneva. It is comprised of 19 commissioners, is independent and was given the mandate to provide the framework for the formulation of a coherent, comprehensive and global response to the issue of international migration. The Global Commission on International Migration ended on 31 December 2005. In its final report, presented to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN members states and other stakeholders on 5 October 2005, the GCIM says the international community has failed to realise the full potential of migration and has not taken advantage of the many opportunities it provides nor risen to the challenges it presents. The Commission also stresses the need for greater coherence, cooperation and capacity to achieve a more effective governance of international migration. The 90-page report provides a comprehensive yet concise analysis of key global policy issues in the field of international migration, and presents six 'Principles for Action' and thirty-three related recommendations that can serve as a guide for the formulation of migration policies at the national, regional and global levels.

UN High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development

The first time the subject of migration was discussed at the ministerial level in a multilateral context was at the 61st United Nations General Assembly in September 2006. It was a milestone in the acknowledgement of migration as a global subject. The UN member states discussed several important issues, including the relationship between migration and development, labour migration, the rights of migrants, and combating human trafficking and human smuggling. In 2013 the General Assembly convened for the second time a High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development (see The International Dialogue on Migration and Development – 2013 in review)

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD)

The GFMD has become one of the most important international meetings on migration and development. Established in 2006 at the instigation of the UN Secretary-General and a majority of UN member states, it is a government-led process for informal, non-binding exchanges on migration and development policy issues. The annual chairmanship alternates between developing and developed countries. The Forum is comprised of two segments – government and civil society days – and involves close interaction between the two. The government days engage more than 160 governments from all regions and more than 30 non-state observers, including leading international organisations and the EC. The GFMD is not part of the UN, but is linked to it through the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for International Migration and Development.

Regional Consultative Processes on Migration

Over the past decade, countries have been participating in non-binding regional consultative fora. These have brought countries, international organisations and NGOs together to discuss migration issues in a cooperative manner. The first such forum was established in 1985 and is known as the 'IGC' for Europe, North America and Australia. Since that time, a number of other initiatives have emerged in most regions of the world, such as the 'Puebla Process' in Northern and Central America, the 'Manila Process' in Asia, the 'Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA) Process' in Southern Africa, and the 'Budapest Process' in Europe. Other comparable initiatives include the 'Rabat Process', the '5+5 Dialogue', the 'Mediterranean Transit Migration Dialogue' (MTM) and the 'Migration Dialogue for West Africa' (MIDWA).

Global Migration Group

The Global Migration Group (GMG) is an inter-agency group bringing together heads of agencies to promote the wider application of all relevant international and regional instruments and norms relating to migration, and to encourage the adoption of more coherent, comprehensive and better coordinated approaches to international migration. The GMG is particularly concerned with improving the overall effectiveness of its members and other stakeholders in capitalising on the opportunities and responding to the challenges presented by international migration.

Members: ILO, IOM, the Regional Commissions, UNCTAD, UNDP, UN-DESA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCHR, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNITAR, UNODC and World Bank.