General Assembly decision makes International Organization for Migration part of UN system

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General Assembly decision makes International Organization for Migration part of UN system

This photo from November 2014 shows IOM providing transportation assistance in South Sudan, moving vulnerable refugees on a UNHCR helicopter. Photo: IOM
This photo from November 2014 shows IOM providing transportation assistance in South Sudan, moving vulnerable refugees on a UNHCR helicopter. Photo: IOM

25 July 2016 – The United Nations General Assembly today unanimously adopted a resolution approving an agreement to make the International Organization for Migration (IOM) part of the UN system as a related organization.

“We are living in a time of much tragedy and uncertainty. This agreement shows Member States' commitment to more humane and orderly migration that benefits all, where we celebrate the human beings behind the numbers,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing in a press release.

“This is an historic day, not only for IOM and the UN, but for migrants and their families across the globe,” he added.

IOM, which assisted an estimated 20 million migrants in 2015, is an intergovernmental organization with more than 9,500 staff and 450 offices worldwide. Founded in the wake of the World War II to resettle refugees from Europe, the organization celebrates its 65th anniversary in December of this year.

The agreement outlines a closer relationship between the 65-year-old IOM and the UN to strengthen cooperation and enhance their ability to fulfil their respective mandates in the interest of migrants and Member States.

“The United Nations and the International Organization for Migration, recognizing the need to work jointly to achieve mutual objectives, and with a view to facilitating the effective exercise of their responsibilities, agree to cooperate closely within their respective mandates and to consult on matters of mutual interest and concern,” said the adopted resolution.

Through the agreement, the UN recognizes IOM as an “indispensable actor in the field of human mobility,” IOM said, adding that this includes protection of migrants and displaced people in migration-affected communities, as well as in areas of refugee resettlement and voluntary returns, and incorporates migration in country development plans.

“The General Assembly's decision to approve this Agreement shows the growing strength of the relationship between IOM and the UN,” said Mr. Swing.

“IOM has worked closely with the UN since our foundation at both operational and policy levels. IOM Member States recognize IOM as the global lead agency on migration. And now, becoming a part of the UN family will give IOM a vital voice at the UN table to advocate for migrants and their rights worldwide,” he added.

Today's action paves the way for the agreement to be signed by Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and Mr. Swing at the UN Summit for refugees and migrants on 19 September, which will bring together UN Member States to address large movements of refugees and migrants for more humane and coordinated approach.

IOM was granted Permanent Observer status to the UN General Assembly in 1992, and a cooperation agreement between IOM and the UN was signed in 1996.

Recognizing the need to establish a closer relationship between the two organizations, the General Assembly earlier this year requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take steps to conclude an agreement in that regard. The UN chief's draft agreement, which formed the basis of today's Assembly text, was approved by the Council of the IOM on 30 June.