Review 2013

The International Dialogue on Migration and Development – a year in review

​The past year was marked by several important milestones for the international dialogue on migration and development. From a SDC perspective, there were two pinnacle moments: the global leadership meeting on population dynamics, co-chaired with Bangladesh in the framework of the Post-2015 process, which led to the Dhaka Declaration, and the second UN High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, which adopted the first UN declaration on the topic.

Global Leadership Meeting on Population Dynamics / Post-2015 Process

Switzerland, through the SDC's Global Programme Migration and Development, took the role of lead country jointly with Bangladesh for the Global Thematic Consultation on Population Dynamics in the context of the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda. The topic touched on a complex range of issues, including population growth, ageing, urbanisation, and international migration and development. The process, which included consultations with the private sector, civil society, experts and governments, culminated in a Global Leadership Meeting held in Dhaka in March 2013.

The participating states at the meeting adopted the Dhaka Declaration, a political statement that firmly demonstrates the need to consider population dynamics as an integral part of the future development agenda. The declaration, conversely, also acknowledges the fact that development influences all aspects of population dynamics. Since the Dhaka meeting our focus has turned more specifically on migration, whereas other topics subsumed under population dynamics have been integrated in different areas of the ongoing debate on Post-2015.

Consequences for the SDC/Switzerland

At the national level, Switzerland's strong engagement in the above-mentioned process has contributed to anchoring migration as one of the priorities in the Swiss Post-2015 position, adopted by the Federal Council in June 2013. At the international level, it has further strengthened Switzerland's position as one of the leading countries in the field of migration and development. We are one of the active members of an informal group led by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Migration and Development, Sir Peter Sutherland. For nearly one year now, the informal group – comprised of governments, international organisations, civil society actors and academic experts – has worked on how to best integrate migration into the Post-2015 agenda. As a result of the group's work, the report of the Secretary-General, 'A life of dignity for all', identified migration as one of the 14 key transformative factors to be considered for a new sustainable global development agenda.


In the coming weeks, a first Swiss working paper on migration and Post-2015 will be presented, outlining why and how migration can be integrated into the agenda. At the international level, the  informal group will continue increasing the knowledge base on migration by formulating migration targets and indicators as well as collecting additional data on migration and development – and  furthering the political process by identifying additional partners, shaping the global debate, etc. The objective is to prepare in the best possible way the ground for the negotiations on the new agenda, which are expected to start in the last quarter of this year. This will also include for selected countries work at the city level, where we are counting on the support of our growing network.


Second UN High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (UNHLD)

The two days of dialogue in New York were the culmination of a long and intense preparatory process. The UNHLD created a momentum which energised many stakeholders to engage in migration and development. Governments around the world reviewed their policies and formulated positions to be presented at the UN. More than 600 civil society organisations (CSOs) joined forces and formulated a coherent 8-point plan of action for the coming 5 years. The Global Migration Group (GMG) issued a series of decisions to improve their work. Finally, the UNHLD report by the UN Secretary-General, which entails an 8-point agenda for action, will serve as an important point of reference for future discussions.

From the two days of dialogue, the following six key points can be highlighted:

1. Since the first UNHLD in 2006, development in the narrative of many stakeholders with regard to the topic was clearly noticeable. The discussions were more nuanced, more assertive on the topic and substantiated with more concrete evidence – an evolution surely owing to the intensified informal dialogue at regional and global levels in the past years.

2. On account of the growing recognition that migration as a multi-dimensional phenomenon with opportunities and challenges affects origin, transit and destination countries in similar ways, the North-South divide in the discourse has diminished and the willingness of governments to engage in cooperation and partnerships at all levels and with a variety of stakeholders has increased.

3. The UNHLD sent out a very strong message of including migration in the Post-2015 agenda. The narratives are still very diverse – from a stand-alone goal to migration as a cross-cutting issue, from migrants as actors for development to migration as an instrument of financing for development. The challenge now is to have a clear and compelling message for the Post-2015 process.

4. A constant element in almost all discussions was the importance of protecting the rights of all migrants. However, in light of the Lampedusa tragedy as well as the deaths of Nepali labour migrants in Qatar, it is clear that the international community yet has to deliver on effective measures to protect migrants.

5. The CSOs made a strong case for their inclusion in all aspects of global and national migration governance. The five-year 8-point plan of action presented by the CSOs was well received by many governments and reflected the constructive role of civil society.

6. The GFMD was broadly recognised as an important platform to continue informal and non-binding expert dialogue.

Overall, the UNHLD accomplished the objectives of stocktaking and agenda setting, and it enhanced the spirit of partnership – at the bilateral and multilateral level – for further progress in the field of migration and development. This was embodied in a declaration adopted by the UN member states during the UNHLD.

Consequences for the SDC/Switzerland

The Swiss delegation, led by Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, could reassert the leading and bridge-building role of Switzerland in the dialogue process. It became apparent how important it is to complement the contributions to the dialogue with concrete experience from the field, and this is why the SDC will have to further enhance the exchange of information between field and global dialogue. Additionally, the strong endorsement by the UNHLD of including migration in the Post-2015 agenda will support our position and give us political leverage to influence the agenda-setting process.


The interdepartmental working group International Migration Dialogue will make an evaluation of the relevance of the UNHLD declaration for our work. At the international level, the declaration and other guiding documents derived from the UNHLD can be used to politically frame discussion and dialogue at all levels. The UNHLD also impacted on the GFMD Summit Meeting which took place in May 2014 (see below). Finally, in 2014, we will also use the biannual UN General Assembly resolution on International Migration and Development to try to ensure that there will be a third UNHLD in 4–5 years. Some governments remain sceptic about debating migration in the General Assembly; therefore, we will have to work on persuading these governments in the months to come.


Other relevant milestones in 2013

Launch of the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD)

The Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) is envisaged to be a global hub of knowledge and policy expertise on migration and development issues currently funded by the SDC and GIZ.

KNOMAD's core objectives are:

· generating and synthesising knowledge on migration issues for countries

· generating a menu of policy choices based on multidisciplinary knowledge and evidence

· providing technical assistance and capacity building to sending and receiving countries for the implementation of pilot projects, the evaluation of migration policies and data collection.


First IOM Ministerial Meeting on Diaspora

In the last two decades, policymakers from both countries of origin and destination have started to look at diasporas through the lens of 'migration & development' (M&D). Initially mainly focusing on remittances, policies have started to include the potential impact that diasporas have on facilitating trade and investment as well as on transferring knowledge and skills. Institutionally, has this led to the establishment of ministries or agencies for diasporas in various countries, aimed at mobilising 'their' diaspora for development purposes. Largely co-funded by Switzerland, IOM organised the first ministerial meeting on the diaspora, which gathered representatives of such ministries to discuss how to better engage with diasporas. The outcomes of the conference are also going to be integrated in the GPMD strategy 'Enhance migrants' contribution to development"– the concept of the SDC on the role of the diasporas', which will be finalised in the weeks to come.


Global Forum on Migration and Development

While the attention was mainly on the UNHLD, the GFMD did not put its work on hold in 2013. Because of the UNHLD, the chairmanship of Sweden was extended to 18 months to allow the Summit Meeting to be held in May 2014. In addition to the traditional preparatory process of a GFMD meeting, Sweden organised three thematic workshops. The first on policy coherence was co-organised by Switzerland. A second meeting discussed labour migration, whereas the third focused on migration as an enabler for inclusive social development. In March 2014, the Chair organised a last preparatory event, a business round table, in order to engage the private sector. As of July of this year, Turkey will take over the chairmanship. Who will follow after Turkey is still open.