Global Migration Group
The Global Migration Group (GMG) is a group consisting of fourteen UN agencies, the World Bank and the International Organisation for Migration that work in cooperation to address global migration issues. It was created in 2006 by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in order to better coordinate multilateral migration governance initiatives. The Group's primary aim is to improve the management of cross-border migration, to promote further research and to develop international norms relating to migration.
The GMG is chaired on a rotating basis of six months by a member agency, during which a thematic topic is adopted to guide the Group's activities. UNICEF chaired the Group during the first half of 2011 with a focus on youth. UNESCO Chairs the Group in the second half of 2011 on the theme of climate change and its impact on migration.
The GMG also feeds its activities into that of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, although the two are not formally affiliated.
ILO, the UN specialized agency on labour issues, began working on migration in 1919. It has pioneered international conventions to specifically protect migrant workers and to shape migration policy. All major sectors of ILO – standards, employment, social protection and social dialogue – work on labour migration within its overarching framework of 'decent work for all'. ILO adopts a rights-based approach to labour migration and promotes tripartite participation (governments, employers and workers) in migration policy. It provides advisory services to member states, promotes international standards, provides a tripartite forum for consultations, serves as a global knowledge base, and provides technical assistance and capacity-building to constituents. ILO has also developed a non-binding multilateral framework on labour migration to guide its constituents and other stakeholders in the formulation and implementation of labour migration policy.
IOM is the global intergovernmental organization solely dedicated to migration. It comprises 132 Member States, 17 Observer States and 80 global and regional partner inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations. IOM's annual operating budget is some US $1 billion for migration programming which is carried out by more than 7,000 staff members working on more than 2,360 projects in more than 460 field locations worldwide. IOM is mandated by its membership and dedicatedto promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. IOM acts with its partners to: uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants; enhance effective respect for the human rights of migrants; encourage social and economic development through migration; assist in meeting the growing operational challenges of migration management; and advance understanding of migration issues. It does these by using its long experience and world-wide presence to provide a full range of services and advice to governments and migrants, from projects and practical solutions to policy and broad strategic approaches, from data collection, research and analysis to the provision of a forum for states, intergovernmental organizations and civil society to exchange views and experiences and promote cooperation and coordination of efforts on international migration issues.
OHCHR has prioritized the promotion and protection of the human rights of all migrants in its work. OHCHR seeks to raise public awareness of the human rights of migrants, including irregular migrants, through advocacy and statements of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and in its public information materials. The Office organizes expert seminars and workshops on migrants' rights issues, offers guidance and capacity-building to states and other stakeholders including non-governmental organisations, and provides technical assistance to states in order to ensure that migrants' concerns are included in national human rights plans and policies. OHCHR country and regional offices also play a key role in advocating for the human rights of migrants at the national and regional level. OHCHR supports the mandates of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants and services the Committee on Migrant Workers, the treaty body supervising compliance with the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and members of their Families.
UNCTAD, the UN focal point for the integrated treatment of trade and development, aims, inter alia, to make migration work for development and the achievement of the MDGs. Under its three pillars (research and analysis, technical assistance and inter-governmental consensus-building), UNCTAD actively promotes coherence and global understanding by offering strategic policy analysis and practical solutions on the nexus between migration, trade and development as well as the impact of remittances on poverty in developing countries. In addition to key publications and holding related expert meetings, UNCTAD undertakes analytical work and provides advice and technical assistance to policy makers, trade negotiators, regulators and other stakeholders.
Specifically mandated areas are the contribution of migrants to development; the potential benefits and opportunities of trade, investment and developmental links between countries of origin of migrants and their communities abroad; maximizing the development gains of remittances, channeling migrant remittances to productive sectors of the economy and financial inclusion of migrants. UNCTAD also contributes to developing the knowledge base on migration, trade and development issues and trends through surveys, collecting migration-related data and information including on temporary and circular migration; gender-related migration; impact of economic crisis on migration and remittances, brain-drain and brain circulation. Specifically in the area of trade in services and its links to migration, UNCTAD's work also focuses on market access and regulatory issues, institutional frameworks to facilitate the temporary movement of natural persons at the multilateral (GATS Mode 4), regional and bilateral levels, as well as trade in labour-intensive services and fostering skills development and recognition of qualifications. UNCTAD participates in the interagency Task Force on Statistics of International Trade in Services.
UNDESA is the primary source of information on matters related to international migration and development for the General Assembly, ECOSOC and its functional commissions. UNDESA's activities in this area are part of its overall responsibilities for the analysis of development prospects globally, and aim at providing the foundation for the policy debate on maximizing the benefits of international migration for development. They include providing objective analyses of the causes and consequences of international migration; compiling, analyzing and disseminating statistics on international migration; working to improve the availability and comparability of those statistics; preparing the official United Nations estimates on global migration and, in collaboration with the Regional Commissions, monitoring national and regional policies on international migration.
UNDP's aim is to maximize the developmental benefits of migration for poor countries and people, and to mitigate any negative consequences. UNDP country offices provide capacity development support to governments that wish to develop pro-poor, pro- development and human rights-based migration strategies, as part of their broader (MDG-based) national development strategies. In follow-up to the 2009 Human Development Report on human mobility and development, particular attention is given to strengthening inter-agency cooperation at global and country levels to support governments and UN country teams in efforts to mainstream migration in national development planning processes. Within the international debate on migration, UNDP advocates for a focus on sustainable human development and protecting the rights of migrants, as well as on reducing barriers to mobility including through progress on the GATS Mode 4 negotiations on the temporary movement of labour.
UNESCO emphasizes the human face of migration and addresses the implications of the movement of people in its fields of competence. These include: the migration-education nexus and the challenges raised by the mobility of skilled professionals, student mobility, and the international recognition of qualifications; the migration- development nexus, with a particular emphasis on the development of knowledge diasporas through the use of ICTs; the impact of global environmental change on migration; social inclusion of migrants in host societies, with particular attention to the role of gender and to the balance between their cultural integration and the respect for cultural diversity; and the research-policy nexus through the creation of research networks and of innovative platforms enabling exchanges between researchers and policy-makers. It does so by cooperating with a wide range of partners, including intergovernmental organizations, civil society groups and universities.
International migration has important implications for population dynamics and thus for the core mandate of UNFPA. UNFPA's approach towards policy and programmatic interventions in this area is rights-based and culture and gender sensitive. Among issues of particular concern are the challenges of female migration, including trafficking and smuggling; migration and the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS; the provision of basic social services, including reproductive health services, in areas of destination; protection of the human rights of migrants; migration and climate change; migration and young people; and migration statistics. UNFPA seeks to improve migration data, research and institutional capacity for formulating and implementing migration policies and programmes; facilitate policy dialogue, and strengthen partnerships to enhance understanding of the complexity of migration flows and their links to development. UNFPA is strongly dedicated to providing directed policy, advocacy and technical support to ensure that international migration is recognized as an important factor in development.
In order to fulfill its mandate to protect refugees and find durable solutions for them, UNHCR is actively involved in a range of activities with a direct bearing on migration. They include contributing to the work of regional for an on migration and asylum; assisting states to address the phenomenon of mixed migratory movements; capacity-building and institutional support relating to asylum; data-collection and analysis on forced migration and secondary movements of refugees; advocacy relating to asylum, statelessness and the phenomenon of internal displacement; provision of assistance for the voluntary repatriation and reintegration of refugees and return of displaced persons; advocacy to encourage the development aid community to recognize and mitigate the development impact of hosting large numbers of refugees or receiving back large number or refugees and displaced persons.
UNICEF, guided by the Convention of the Rights of the Child, is dedicated to the realization of the rights of all children, adolescents and women affected by migration. A long-time advocate for children's rights and gender equality, UNICEF works with governments and civil societ to find practical solutions to the challenges that migration presents for children and women, to help build capacity and to promote public policies that protect children affected by migration. UNICEF monitors social and human rights indicators and trends on children affected by migration, and works with partners on a wide range of specific issues affecting children, adolescents and women in the context of migration, including: the impact of the global economic crisis on migration and remittances; the social impact of migration and remittances on children left behind; the nexus between migration, poverty and development; the role of social protection and legislative reform in supporting the realization of human rights; the relationship between migration and youth unemployment; the impact of climate change and environmental degradation; and the protection of children from abuse, violence and trafficking, especially girls and unaccompanied and separated migrant children. UNICEF also works jointly with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) on estimating the number of migrant children and on the economic and social effects of migration on children and their families.
UNITAR's mandate is to strengthen the effectiveness of the United Nations system through capacity development activities for Member States. For close to two decades, UNITAR has supported inter-agency collaboration in the field of international migration, dedicated to promoting inclusive dialogue among all relevant stakeholders in the migration process across sectors and world regions. The Institut offers a neutral platform for networking, trust building, and he exchange of information and advanced policy thinking amongst government representatives and the broader international community. Since 2006, at the United Nations (UN) in New York, it facilitates the exchange of policy deliberations relating to key inter-governmental processes, principally the Global Forum on Migration and Development and relevant UN General Assembly discussions. Further, together with its partners, UNITAR works to enhance knowledge on international migration law, and continues to offer certified training on this subject.
As guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its additional Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children and against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, the mandate of UNODC is to assist the international community to prevent and combat these crimes, prosecute the criminals who commit them, protect and assist trafficked persons and the rights of smuggled migrants, and promote cooperation to these ends. The assistance provided by UNODC focuses on the criminal justice components of combating trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, keeping in mind the need to assist and protect victims of trafficking in persons and protect the rights of smuggled migrants. UNODC technical assistance is provided in the following seven areas of work: Legislative assistance; Strategic planning and policy development; data collection and research; Criminal justice system responses; Victim-protection and support; Prevention and awareness raising; and International Cooperation.
- United Nations Regional Commissions (ECA, ECE, ECLAC, ESCAP, ESCWA) (currently represented by ESCWA)
Despite its global character and increasing inter-regional flows, international migration is a phenomenon that exhibits regional specificities. The work of the 5 United Nations Regional Commissions is dedicated to fostering incorporation of the regional perspective in the analysis of international migration and in addressing the multidimensional aspects of migration, which entails the integration of this phenomenon with development goals. Their activities include monitoring the development of regional and subregional consultative processes focusing on migration, striving to move towards interregional convergence and regional integration initiatives. As a complement to these efforts, the regional commissions are actively engaged in analysing the countries' priorities and experiences regarding labour markets, training, exchanges of human capital and portability of pension and health benefits, as well as the role of civil society.
- United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) (joined in September 2010)
UN Women represents the United Nations' renewed commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment. UN Women's Executive Director is Undersecretary-General Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile and a champion of women's rights. UN Women brings a gender equality and women's empowerment approach to international migration and human development via its work on Empowering Women Migrant Workers to Claim their Rights and Celebrate their Contribution. The entity's work at global, regional andcountry levels focuses on: gender-responsive migration governance in line with the CEDAW General Recommendation No. 26 on Women Migrant Workers, and other international human rights standards on migration.This includes: knowledge generation and management; providing technical and financial assistance to creating, implementing and monitoring gender-responsive policies, plans, programmes and budgets on migration; facilitating gender-sensitive service delivery environments; capacity-strengthening for women migrant workers and their associations to claim their rights; engaging with mainstream accountability mechanisms to uphold women migrant workers' rights; linking with practitioners on gender equality, women's economic empowerment and climate change to identify convergence areas for policy advocacy; supporting intergovernmental processes like the GFMD to prioritise the gender dimensions of migration; and playing a lead role on women's migration in UN interagency mechanisms and processes.
The World Bank's engagement on international migration focuses on the development impact of migration and remittances for developing countries. The focus to date has been largely on generating reliable data and deepening existing knowledge on the potential benefits and costs of migration at both the household and aggregate level. This work has led to a number of important global and regional reports and has improved the availability and quality of data on priority issues. Operational work to date has focused on reducing the costs of remittances and better channeling of these resources; enhancing the portability of pensions and strengthening the protection of migrant workers. The World Bank has also been actively engaged in the attempt to gain global policy coherence in the area of international migration by means of improved partnerships and coordination.
- World Health Organization (joined in September 2010)
Health of migrants and health matters associated with migration are crucial public health challenges that concern the WHO and its Member States. The work of WHO in this domain is guided by the Resolution on the Health of Migrants which was endorsed by the 61st World Health Assembly in 2008 and asks Member States to take action on migrant sensitive health policies and practices and directs WHO to promote migrant health on the international agenda, in partnership with other organizations and interregional cooperation. In 2010, a Global Consultation on migrant health reached consensus among stakeholders on priority areas for an operational framework which assists the Organization in pursuing the implementation of the Resolution. The priority areas are: monitoring migrant health, migrant sensitive health systems; policy and legal frameworks; and networks and multi country frameworks.
In addition, the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel addresses the migration of health personnel which is weakening health systems in especially developing countries. The Code, which was accepted during the 63rd World Health Assembly, promotes the ethical international recruitment of health personnel as part of strengthening health systems.
GMG Working Themes
Global environmental change and migration (July – December 2011)
The relationship between global environmental change and migration is an emerging issue on the global policy agenda. During UNESCO's chairmanship, the GMG is focusing its work on linkages between the environment, human settlement and population movement.
There is a wide range of migration-related issues associated with environmental factors, including governance, conflict, human rights and international law, gender, economic and human development, as well as public health. Environmental degradation takes place in a context marked by inequalities within and between countries in terms of development and capacities to address their consequences, thereby raising issues of global justice. Increased movement of people (including displacement and possible relocation) in this context will have real impacts for migrants and communities in countries of origin, destination and transit.
The GMG works jointly to identify the challenges inherent in the links between climate change and migration, displacement and relocation. Such challenges include the legal and normative framework applicable to environmentally induced displacement and migration. There remains a lack of clarity on issues such as the legal status of people fleeing environmental disasters, the need for better data collection and monitoring, and the consideration of migration as a de facto adaptation strategy in national climate change strategies, for example in National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs). The GMG works together to prepare inputs on these challenges for events such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held this year in Durban, South Africa from 28 November to 9 December (17th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).
Youth, Adolescents and Migration (January – June 2011)
In light of the International Year of Youth (12 Aug 2010 – 11 Aug 2011), the thematic focus aims to bring greater attention to a rights based approach to adolescent and youth issues within the discussion on international migration. These issues are considered from an equity, human development and gender perspective.
Globally, there are some 48 million international migrants under 25 years of age, representing nearly 23 per cent of the total migrant population. The issues affecting youth and adolescents in this context are multidimensional, including gender, family, health, education, employment, labour mobility, environment, urbanization, participation and sustainable human development.
While migration can provide opportunities for adolescents and youth, it can also expose them to the risk of human trafficking and increase their vulnerability to exploitation, abuse, violence and a wide range of human rights violations. Girls and young women, migrants in an irregular situation, those travelling unaccompanied, and family members that remain in the country of origin can be particularly vulnerable. As highlighted in the joint statement of the GMG Principals in September 2010, the GMG will continue to work for the promotion and protection of the human rights of all migrants—including youth and adolescents—regardless of migration status.
The GMG focuses on the medium and long-term impacts of migration on youth and adolescents. Young people are more likely to take on the risks of international migration in pursuit of its expected gains, including education. Greater equality of opportunity in communities of origin, transit and destination can ensure the wellbeing of young migrants and maximise their contributions as workers, entrepreneurs, students and members of society. Exploring issues such as looking into how best to address inequality of opportunities for adolescents and youth in countries of origin may reduce migration by necessity.
Special attention is paid to identifying common policy and programmatic approaches for enhancing cooperation among governments, agencies and relevant stakeholders. This effort aims to increase policy coherence and develop the capacity of stakeholders in data collection, analysis, evidence-based policymaking, and dissemination of best practices at country, regional and global levels.
- GMG Principals' Meeting. To be held by UNESCO as current GMG Chair, where the focus of the meeting will be on the theme of global environmental change and migration. The Principals of the different GMG member agencies are to be present (represented at Director-General or Assistant Director General level) and a Joint Statement is to be released. 15 November 2011, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France.
- GFMD Concluding Debate. The GMG will be participating in this event which focuses on the overarching theme of "Taking Action on Migration and Development - Coherence, Capacity and Cooperation". It will build on the insights drawn from the previous GFMD thematic meetings. 1–2 December 2011, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.
- UN-ESCWA upcoming Interregional Workshop on strengthening capacities to deal with international migration: "Examining development, institutional and policy aspects of migration between Africa, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean". 22–23 September 2011, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.
- GFMD Thematic Meetings
- GMG Symposium: "Migration and Youth: Harnessing Opportunities for Development". Hosted by former Chair UNICEF. 17–18 May 2011, United Nations Plaza, New York, US.
All GMG Topics
- Migration and the Economic Crisis
- Migration Data
- Migration and Development
- Labour Migration
- Migration and Human Rights
- Migration and Children
- Migration and Gender
- Migration and Climate Change
- Forced Migration
- Trafficking and Smuggling
- Migration and Health
- Migration and Governance
- Other Issues
- Newland, K. (2010) ‘The governance of international migration: mechanisms, processes and institutions’, Global Governance, 16 (3), pp.331-344.
- GMG Website.
- See Migration and Climate Change (UNESCO/Cambridge University Press 2011)
- Principals' Meeting
- GFMD Concluding Debate
- GMG Symposium