Statement, GFMD Dialogue on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

Date Publish: 
Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 16:30
Mr. William Lacy Swing, Director General, International Organization for Migration
Geneva, Switzerland


Distinguished Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is an honor and pleasure to be with you today at the GFMD dialogue on the “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.  Just six months ago, an important event took place – an event which has the potential to reshape the future of migration: the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants on the 19th of September 2016. We are all extremely grateful to the co-facilitators – the Mexican Ambassador Juan José Gómez Camacho and the Swiss Ambassador Jürg Lauber for their respective work on the New York Declaration – a miraculous achievement. The New York Declaration initiated a process of intergovernmental consultations and negotiations aimed at the adoption of a global compact on migration in 2018 – the New York Declaration also laid the foundation on which to help improve global migration governance. Further, the New York Declaration underscores the political will of world leaders to work towards a world in which migration is well-governed; a world in which the rights and well-being of migrants are protected, a world in which migration is a positive force for development – for migrants and their families, but also for the countries from which they came and the countries to which they go  and; a world in which all states demonstrate, through concrete actions, the will to share responsibility on migration matters globally. 

Migration has become a top priority in the international agenda. This is an achievement that must be attributed, in part, to the GFMD. For example, as a global platform for policy dialogue on migration, the GFMD has provided the space for states to have an open and honest discourse on migration; created bonds of trust; and has drawn attention to the positive contributions of migrants to host and origin countries alike by highlighting the concrete nexus between migration and development. The GFMD’s exchange of information and improvement of understanding of migration have substantially impacted migration governance world-wide. In effect, the GFMD has encouraged Member States to commit to developing a global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration.

I thank you for your invitation to discuss IOM’s perspective on, and involvement in, the GCM process. I would like to highlight three points:

  • IOM’s vision for the global compact on migration;
  • IOM’s role; and
  • IOM’s contribution.

IOM’s vision for the GCM

A. IOM’s vision is for a world in which first of all, migrants move as a matter of genuine choice and not desperate necessity; second, in which the rights of migrants are protected throughout the migratory cycle; and, a world in which human mobility is well-governed so that it remains a positive force for all peoples and societies which migration has always been.

IOM fully recognizes and respects the sovereign right of governments to determine which non-nationals may enter and stay within their territories, consistent with their obligations under international law.  Rather than limiting state sovereignty, the global compact on migration is expected to foster more robust collaboration and cooperation on migration-related issues.

B. Our vision for the “global compact on migration” is for it to become a unifying framework, one that will guide global migration governance through a set of common principles, commitments and understandings.  The rights, needs, capacities and contributions of migrants should be at the core of the Compact, with a view to safeguarding migrants’ safety, dignity and human rights. The Compact will seek to support all key actors to realize the development potential of migration and the consequential benefits of migration to both home and host societies.

The global compact on migration is expected to put at the disposal of States and other actors a set of actionable tools and practical solutions to govern migration effectively and humanely, to encourage regular migration, and to reduce the incidence and impacts of irregular migration. In order to achieve this, we believe the global compact on migration should:

  • Recognize that safe, orderly and regular international migration benefits both  States and migrants alike;
  • Recognize that the principles underpinning safe, orderly and regular international migration should be based on relevant international norms, principles and standards; 
  • Comprehensively address all aspects of international migration that require cooperation among States, including migration’s humanitarian, development, human rights-related and other aspects;
  • Recognize the obligations and the commitments and understandings of all parties in the field of international migration;
  • Analyze effective migration policies and practices at local, national, regional and global levels;
  • Identify ways and means of translating principles, commitments and understandings into practical, actionable objectives; identify options for the governance of mobility; encourage regular migration; address the mobility dimensions of crises; and, offer innovative and practical solutions that can be applied widely;
  • Produce practical recommendations, pointing to remaining gaps in commitments and understandings and identifying the barriers and challenges both causing those gaps and resulting from them;
  • Create a basis for parties to track and review progress.

2. IOM’s role

The modalities resolution agreed by Member States for the preparatory process of the GCM sets forth a robust role for IOM in supporting Member States and others as the leading agency on migration:

  • IOM will jointly service the full GCM process, specifically through providing its technical and policy expertise. To that end, and as one of many measures that IOM has taken to support the development of the GCM, I have seconded two IOM officials to the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on International Migration to support her work;
  • The President of the General Assembly will organize six informal thematic sessions, drawing on the expertise of IOM, in particular, and of other organizations as well, in order to inform the GCM.  I am in the process of seconding an IOM official to that team as well;
  • Supported by IOM, and drawing upon the expertise of the GMG and other relevant entities, the Secretary General is to prepare inter-agency issue-briefs for the thematic sessions;
  • The Secretary General is also to develop a work plan, in close consultation with IOM, to make use of existing processes, mechanisms and initiatives on migration. 
    • These include the convening of regional consultations with the Regional Economic Commissions and sub-regional bodies to generate regional and sub-regional experiences and priorities;
    • The convening of IOM’s International Dialogue on Migration, which in 2017 is dedicated to the GCM:  on 18 – 19 April 2017 at the UN in NY on strengthening cooperation on and governance of international migration, and 18 – 19 July at the UN in Geneva on protecting and assisting migrants in vulnerable situations;
    • The GFMD, ably chaired this year by Germany and Morocco; and
    • Drawing on the many Regional Consultative Processes (RCP) and Inter-State Consultation Mechanisms on Migration, including through the convening of the 7th Global RCP meeting by IOM on 10 – 11 October 2017 in Geneva, to bring together all regional consultative and other dedicated migration processes.
  • Finally, The Secretary General, in close consultation with IOM, will present a report as input to the zero draft of the global compact.

3. IOM’s contribution

In addition to the International Dialogue on Migration and RCP meetings just mentioned, IOM is using its global footprint, close relationships with governments and its ability to bring different actors in the migration landscape to the table to contribute to achieving a principled and practical global compact.

More than 40 IOM country offices across the globe are already in touch with their host governments on holding national multi-stakeholder consultations, bringing together at the national level multiple ministries in government working on migration or matters affecting or affected by migration, as well as critical non-governmental actors from civil society, the private sector, migrants, and diaspora organizations, amongst others.

Our organization is drafting thematic papers, derived from our thematic, technical and operational expertise, and which correspond to the majority of the elements listed in Annex II of the New York Declaration. These papers are intended to help inform the overall consultation process and will be provided to Member States and other stakeholders.

We have established ‎a regionally and thematically diverse Migration Research Leaders Syndicate to tap into the wealth of existing expertise from academia and experts to help ensure an evidence-based, and well-grounded discussion on all thematic aspects of the GCM. 

In addition, to help ensure that civil society organizations across the globe have a voice in the process, IOM has established a dedicated civil society liaison function, which is, amongst others, supporting IOM in convening five regional civil society consultations to precede and feed into the regional consultations.


The decision by Member States to develop a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration provides a once in a generation opportunity to frame and determine the way the international community governs migration. We must seize this opportunity fully, notwithstanding the challenging, anti-migrant context in which it arises.  This opportunity is unlikely to present itself again anytime soon and we must all do our utmost to ensure that it succeeds:  for the migrants and their families whose lively are directly impacted by migration, and for all of our societies – societies of origin, transit and destination.  We must stress the importance of a holistic approach to addressing the challenges and reaping the benefits of migration, pursue tangible outcomes built on robust evidence, and do so based on strong partnerships between Member States and the other critical actors on migration. The GCM presents a critical opportunity for the international community to move away from reactive approaches, to look forward to a common future in which migration is safe, orderly and regular, and to determine the concrete steps needed to realize this vision.

I look forward to listening to your views on how the GFMD can continue to play an important role in contributing to the development of the GCM and how IOM can support your efforts on this.

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