The global discourse on migration has shifted significantly in recent years with the increase in knowledge and awareness about the multifaceted nature of human mobility and its potential to benefit development at the human, social and economic levels. The various players in the international system that are engaged in migration issues – the United Nations (UN), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN and IOM Member States, regional cooperation mechanisms (both formal and informal), civil society and other concerned stakeholders – have all contributed to this changing discourse.

Since the first UN General Assembly High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (HLD) in 2006, there has been growing consensus that migration can be beneficial for all concerned if managed in ways that facilitate safe and empowering mobility, while ensuring that migrants’ human rights are respected and protected. International cooperation and partnership are essential to promoting the development potential of migration, while addressing its negative effects. The second UN HLD, to be held in October 2013,1 will take stock of the international debate and activities around migration since 2006, and the international system underpinning these.

This book showcases the mandates and work of 28 UN organizations and related international entities engaged with international migration issues, which have supported the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB)2 in preparing for the second HLD. They comprise members of the CEB, including the 16-member Global Migration Group (GMG), which includes IOM;3  the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants; and the NGO Committee on Migration.4 For the purposes of the book, these bodies are referred to as “HLCP–GMG agencies.”

This book draws on the individual contributions that the HLCP–GMG agencies have compiled into a set of recommendations and outcomes for the 2013 HLD, as mandated by the High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) of the CEB in April 2012 and coordinated by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and IOM in collaboration with the GMG. It illustrates the significant work undertaken by the various contributors in support of migrants, their families and societies touched by migration. The agency chapters draw the attention of policymakers and practitioners to the existing tools, guides and good practices that can help create enabling migration and development policy environments.

The book also offers some unique insights into the growing coherence of action among these key international players in the area of migration. The collaboration among the agencies represented in this book reflects ongoing efforts to advance global understanding and inter-agency cooperation on migration. The book thus helps to fill a gap in knowledge about the “international system” around migration.

  • 1     The second High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (HLD) will be held during the UN General Assembly’s sixty-eighth session, from 3 to 4 October 2013. Information on the preparation for the HLD can be found at:
  • 2      The UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), chaired by the UN Secretary General is the main instrument for 29 executive heads of the UN system to coordinate their actions and policies. It's High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) advises on policy, programme and operational matters of system-wide importance and fosters inter-agency cooperation and coordination on behalf of the CEB.
  • 3      IOM is a founding member of the GMG, but it is not a UN agency and therefore also not a member of the CEB.
  • 4      The HLCP–GMG agencies that contributed to this book include: the 16 GMG members, namely, ILO, IOM, The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs (UN DESA) the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UNESCO, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNICEF, UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN regional commissions, UN Women, WHO and the World Bank; 10 non-GMG agencies, namely, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), UNAIDS, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN-Habitat, Universal Postal Union (UPU), WIPO and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants; and the NGO Committee on Migration. The Special Representative of the Secretary General for International Migration and Development (SRSG) also contributed to the recommendations and outcomes on migration reflected in this book.

Inter-agency perspectives on migration and development

The 2013 High-level Dialogue offers a timely opportunity to take stock of the mandates and work of the United Nations and its partners in the migration (and development) field since the first HLD.  It also marks an important occasion to discuss how migration may be integrated into the post-2015 United Nations development agenda.

To prepare their proposed recommendations and outcomes on migration for the 2013 HLD, as requested by the CEB, the relevant international entities were asked to complete a questionnaire covering the following areas:

Global Migration Group – towards coordination, consensus and coherence

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

The GMG and the GFMD — looking for synergies

The State-led GFMD29  has, from the outset, offered a focus and reference point for the actions of the GMG, mostly by engaging individual GMG members in thematic preparatory and follow-up work on its round tables and/or promoting partnerships on policy- and process-related issues through its Civil Society Days, Common Space panels and Platform for Partnerships. The GFMD has also challenged the capacity of the GMG to respond to migration and development issues as a group.

Looking towards the 2013 High-level Dialogue

The importance of the 2013 HLD for the Special Session of the General Assembly on  the  ICPD  beyond  2014  and  the  Post-2015  UN  Development  Agenda,  was recently underscored in the resolution “New Trends in Migration: Demographic Aspects,” adopted by the Fourty-sixth Session of the Commission on Population and Development.30 The resolution makes provision for a broad range of elements related to migration and development and calls upon the GMG and other stakeholders, within their respective mandates, to strengthen their collaboration and cooperation in the area of international migrat

Conclusion: The international system working as one

This publication draws attention to the impressive array of programmes and initiatives in the area of migration and development by UN entities, IOM and their partners, often carried out in collaboration with governments and civil society. The impetus behind the book – the call of the CEB in 2012 to UN organizations and their partners for a Recommendations and Outcomes document on migration to support the preparations for the 2013 HLD – provided a timely opportunity to both take stock of and strengthen the cooperation and coordination among key entities dealing with migration.