Development Account Projects
Strengthening national capacities to deal with international migration: maximizing development benefits and minimizing negative impact
As different regions of the world have experienced unprecedented changes in type and scale of their international migration flows, international labour mobility of men and women and the associated processes of family consolidation have acquired great global relevance to development. For instance, issues like intra- and inter-regional migration trends; magnitude and dynamics of remittances; participation of women and its impact on gender equality; discrimination, racism and other forms of intolerance; and migration of qualified workers—all linked to national development and poverty alleviation strategies as well as to several of the Millennium Development Goals— were considered as priority matters during the United Nations High Level Dialogue (HLD) on International Migration and Development (September, 2006).
In order to implement HLD follow-up activities, enhanced inter-agency collaboration is needed. The Global Migration Group (GMG), created by the United Nations Secretary General in early 2006 building on the pre-existing Geneva Migration Group, provides an excellent framework for facilitating such coordination. Constituted by ten organizations and agencies actively involved in migration-related activities – ILO, IOM, OHCHR, UNCTAD, UN-DESA, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNODC and the World Bank –, it was recently expanded to incorporate the five UN Regional Commissions as well as UNESCO, UNICEF and UNITAR. The GMG aims at promoting a wider application of all relevant international and regional instruments and norms relating to migration, and encouraging the adoption of more coherent, comprehensive and better coordinated approaches to the issue of international migration.
Despite its global character and increasing inter-regional flows, international migration has important regional specificities as acknowledged by the Report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. In this sense, the project aims at identifying both the commonalities of international migration across the five regions and the region-specific relevant characteristics associated to development along the lines of the objectives of the HLD.
To strengthen national capacities to incorporate international migration issues into national development strategies in order to maximize the development benefits of international migration and minimize its negative impacts.
- Increased national skills and capacities to design and implement policies and programmes which maximize the gains and minimize the challenges of international migration for development.
- Increased availability of information on international migration and its development impacts.
During 2010, the Project has increased the understanding and awareness of Governments from Latin America and the Caribbean, the Asia-Pacific region, South West Asia and Europe on existing and emerging issues related to international migration and development, especially the social cost of migration and ways to mitigate this cost, and their impact on policy-making.
These outcomes were achieved due to: i) the preparation of three regional studies which have generated new knowledge, analysis and policy recommendations to international migration issues as well as ii) the presentation and discussion of their contents with policy-makers and other key stakeholders of the academia, international institutions and civil society in the framework of five regional seminars and technical workshops. The results from evaluations surveys used in some of these technical cooperation activities have shown that most participants had acknowledged having received and benefited from new ideas, relevant policy options and exchange of experience related to international migration issues in each region and indicated that they had addressed their regional priorities as a result of the project.
In the case of ESCAP, during the Workshop on “Strengthening National Capacities to Deal with International Migration”, in April 2010 in Bangkok, participants from Indonesia indicated a keen interest in incorporating international migration in their PRSP.
In July 2010 the Russian Federation changed its policy on migrant workers, issuing licenses to migrant workers as a way to address the issue of high irregular migrants. During the workshop on "Strengthening Capacities to Deal with International Migration", held 22-24 April 2010 in Bangkok the participant from the Government of the Russian Federation indicated that the law was under change and some of the tools provided during the meeting had been useful for policy-making.
Since the project began in ESCWA region, certain Gulf countries, notably Bahrain and Kuwait, have committed to ending the kafala system a sponsorship system for hiring foreign workers. Bahrain has implemented its reform, while Kuwait is in the process of drawing up a revised labour law incorporating inputs from ESCWA. This would imply that countries in the region are using best practices.