International cooperation on migration – what’s next?

December is a time to recall that all migrants—no matter their immigration status—are entitled to the same basic human rights as everyone else. Migrants form a vital and integral part of our societies and contribute much to sustainable development. As revealed by UN DESA’s latest revision of estimates of the International Migrant Stock, the number of international migrants globally reached an estimated 272 million in 2019, an increase of 51 million since 2010. The global number of international migrants has grown faster than the world’s population. As a result, migrants comprise 3.5 per cent of the global population today, compared to 2.8 per cent in the year 2000.

On 18 December, the United Nations celebrates International Migrants’ Day, marking 29 years since the adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. One of the nine core international human rights instruments, the Convention distinguishes between the basic human rights of all migrant workers and members of their families, regardless of their immigration status, and other rights of those who are in a regular situation. After almost three decades, the resolution continues to enjoy limited buy-in: only 55 Member States have ratified it so far, none of which are major migrant-receiving countries.

But that does not mean international cooperation on migration has stalled. On the contrary, exactly one year ago, on 10 and 11 December 2018, Member States came together in Marrakech, Morocco, to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The General Assembly formally endorsed the Marrakech Compact on Migration on 19 December with an overwhelming majority of 152 Member States voting in favour.

The Compact has 10 cross-cutting and interdependent guiding principles: people-centred; international cooperation; national sovereignty; rule of law and due process; sustainable development; human rights; gender- and child-sensitive; whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach.

It includes 23 objectives covering the full migration cycle, ranging from conditions and drivers of migration in home countries, to preparations for migration, movements, border management and integration in destination countries to development impacts, return and reintegration. Each of these objectives includes a series of concrete actions Member States can take.

In 2018, the Secretary-General established the UN Network on Migrationcomprising 38 UN system entities to ensure coordinated support to Member States. A member of the Network’s Executive Committee, UN DESA co-leads the working group on data and evidence, contributes to the development of the Network’s knowledge platform and connection hub and supported the negotiations on the organizational arrangements for the international migration review forums.

In May 2019, the Network launched the start-up fund for safe, orderly and regular migration to support the implementation of the Compact. Today, the trust fund has already received pledges totalling more than $7 million.

The year 2020 will be a litmus test for international cooperation on migration as UN Regional Economic Commissions and other migration-related platforms undertake regional reviews to assess the status of implementation of the Compact. The results of these reviews will inform the first International Migration Review Forum in New York during the first half of 2022.

For more information: UN DESA’s Population Division – International migration

Photo: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

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