The GMG has achieved a measure of interdisciplinary collaboration in recent years that could not have been foreseen, or been possible, a decade ago. It has led to a more open, constructive and congenial climate for inter-agency debate and exchange on migration and development, and has encouraged the adoption of more coherent, comprehensive and better-coordinated approaches to international migration among States and their non-State partners.15

However, the stark contrasts and diversity of mandates, governance structures, funding, operations, capacities and priorities among its members continue to pose challenges to the GMG as a collective. For example, IOM is dedicated full-time and exclusively to migration and has a broadly defined core migration mandate, while ILO has a constitutional mandate to protect migrant workers that dates back to 1919. For several agencies, migration is not a major part of their work, yet relevant to their respective areas of focus. Some agencies may have a large operational footprint and provide direct assistance to governments, migrants and communities, while others are charged with normative oversight and standard-setting. Some have a wide network of field offices, and others are more “headquarters-oriented.”

Despite these challenges, GMG agencies, individually and jointly, have helped make the  critical  connections  between  migration  and  development  and  other  related areas such as human (including labour), rights, gender, children, family, employment, recognition of qualifications and skills, social protection, portability of social security benefits, climate, environment, health, education and trade and have highlighted specific aspects of migration, such as South–South migration, migrants in distress, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and diaspora.

Ad hoc coalitions among certain GMG agencies have implemented programmes directly with governments, migrants, communities and civil society, and have worked jointly on various tools and compendia of good practice.16 Large or small, all members of the GMG bring an important piece of the migration and development puzzle to the table. Since 2006, each GMG Chair has helped consolidate the GMG as a cooperative body and broaden its thematic reach and relevance for the international agenda on migration and development.

Joint publications, such as the book International Migration and Human Rights (2008),17 the GMG handbook on Mainstreaming Migration into Development Planning (2010),18 and the report Adolescents, Youth and Migration: Challenges and Opportunities (2013), represent collaborative efforts and growing consensus on key issues of concern. In addition, the GMG has delivered joint briefings and statements at the UN General Assembly, the GFMD, the IOM Council and other international forums, including the Joint Statement on the Human Rights of Migrants in an Irregular Situation in 2010,19 and the Joint Statement on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration in 2011.20  In 2010 and 2011, the GMG held thematic symposiums with Member States and a broad range of civil society stakeholders entitled “Overcoming Barriers: Building Partnerships for Migration and Human Development” and “Migration and Youth: Harnessing Opportunities for Development,” respectively.

The GMG has conducted joint surveys on migration and development-related policy research and data collection, as well as migration and development projects and activities in the context of the GFMD.21 The Group also undertook a survey of its capacity-building initiatives, identifying gaps, overlaps and potential synergies among its members in this area.22 Membership of the UN regional commissions has brought a regional perspective into the Group’s activities. It has also broadened the base of cooperation on migration, as in the case of the Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Mechanism Thematic Working Group on International Migration including Human Trafficking, which engages 15 UN and UN-related entities and IOM in joint, cross- border activities.

Over the course of their collaboration, GMG members have deepened their common understanding of the interactions between migration and development, and the need for joined-up response strategies. For example, the mainstreaming pilot programme that GMG members are conducting in four countries has brought to light synergies that exist between its activities and other interdisciplinary migration and development initiatives, such as the EC-UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) and the Migration Profiles series. JMDI has supported more than 50 transnational projects managed by civil society, migrant and diaspora organizations, which often work in tandem with local authorities, and has established a global migration and development network, M4D Net. The GMG-promoted Migration Profiles serve as national tools for migration data collection and analysis, bringing together migration data from disparate sources to facilitate evidence-based policymaking in 53 countries.23 The compilation of a common set of indicators for the Migration Profiles, prepared under the auspices of the GMG Working Group on Data and Research, is another example of how the GMG can add value to national initiatives.

The GMG is still consolidating itself. Given the long histories and diverse mandates of its member agencies, the GMG is likely to be a long-term endeavour.24 An internal review of the operating modalities of the Group, which commenced in April 2012,25 has led to further revisions, including the extension of GMG chairmanships from 6 to 12 months; setting multi-year workplans beginning 2013; creating additional thematic working groups or time-bound (ad hoc) task forces;26 establishing a small, time-bound secretariat;  and  pursuing  individual  (or  small  group)  fundraising  projects  for  the work streams of the multi-annual workplan, in consultation with UN Country Teams, as appropriate. These reflect similar reforms proposed for the GFMD by an internal assessment conducted by its Member States in 2011–2012.27

The actions taken forward in 2013 to streamline the structure and actions of the GMG reflect the behaviour of a “community” of disparate international agencies that share an interest in working coherently and effectively on common global migration and development challenges. In bringing together agencies willing to pool their expertise and resources and deliver joint outputs and results, the GMG has become an effective working mechanism for coordination, consensus-building and cooperation on migration. As such, it provides a solid basis for future work with governments and other partners to implement the outcomes of the 2013 HLD and pave the way for a migration-inclusive post-2015 development agenda.28

  • 14   This is referenced in the proposed Recommendations and Outcomes paper for the 2013 HLD compiled by the HLCP– GMG Group for the CEB. See also the report to the Secretary General by the UN System Task Team on the post-2015
  • UN development agenda, “Realizing the future we want for all,” New York, June 2012, available at
  • development/desa/policy/untaskteam_undf/untt_report.pdf.
  • 15   Visit the GMG website at For the Group’s terms of reference, see also
  • 16   See, for example: ILO, IOM and OSCE, Compendium of Good Practice Policy Elements in Bilateral Temporary Labour Arrangements,” prepared for GFMD 2008 (Manila) as a follow-up on GFMD 2007; or the round table background paper prepared by the World Bank and IOM for GFMD 2012 entitled “Supporting migrants and diaspora as agents of socioeconomic change,” which the GFMD has identified for follow-up completion as a good practice tool. http://,com_docman/Itemid,45/task,cat_view/gid,43/
  • 17   GMG, International Migration and Human Rights: Challenges and Opportunities on the Threshold of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Geneva GMG, 2008), available from uploads/documents/Int_Migration_Human_Rights.pdf.
  • 18  An electronic copy of the handbook is available for download from php?main_page=product_info&products_id=661.
  • 19   This document is available for download from
  • 20   The Joint Statement on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration was endorsed at the GMG Principals’ meeting in Fall 2011 and is accessible at
  • 21   To learn more about this survey, visit
  • 22   To learn more about GMG capacity-building activities, visit
  • 23   About 25 per cent of the Migration Profiles produced by the end of 2012 can be considered as “extended” Migration Profile exercises. (Regional overviews, the 2006 Migration Profile pilot reports for Ghana and Ecuador, and the national migration reports produced in Thailand and Viet Nam are not included in this count. For further details, visit
  • 24   The  previous  operating  modalities provided  for  six-month  chairmanships  and  workplans.  The  chairing  Troika mechanism established in 2009 was a first step towards greater continuity between chairmanships. The creation of GMG thematic working groups – on “mainstreaming migration into development planning” (co-chaired by UNDP and IOM) and on “data and research” (co-chaired by UN DESA and IOM) – marked an important advance in GMG collaboration, as these allowed for greater coherence and integration of its work. Regular meetings at the principal and technical levels helped capture and review areas of common interest and plan joint actions, where possible, also in support of the Member States in the larger GFMD.