|This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2010)|
|Membership||156 member states and 10 observer states (over 80 global and regional IGOs and NGOs are also observers)|
|Official language||English, French and Spanish|
|Director General||William Lacy Swing|
|Budget||US$1.675 billon (2013)|
The International Organization for Migration is an intergovernmental organization. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. As of December 2013, the International Organization for Migration has 155 member states and 11 observer states.
It is the principal intergovernmental organization in the field of migration. IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.
IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, be they refugees, displaced persons or other uprooted people.
The IOM Constitution gives explicit recognition to the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development, as well as to the right of freedom of movement of persons.
IOM works in the four broad areas of migration management: migration and development, facilitating migration, regulating migration, and addressing forced migration. Cross-cutting activities include the promotion of international migration law, policy debate and guidance, protection of migrants’ rights, migration health and the gender dimension of migration.
IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners.
IOM, or as it was first known, the Provisional Intergovernmental Committee for the Movement of Migrants from Europe (PICMME), was born in 1951 out of the chaos and displacement of Western Europe following the Second World War.
Mandated to help European governments to identify resettlement countries for the estimated 11 million people uprooted by the war, it arranged transport for nearly a million migrants during the 1950s.
The Constitution of the International Organization for Migration was concluded on 19 October 1953 in Venice as the Constitution of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration. The Constitution entered into force on 30 November 1954 and the organization was formally born.
The organization underwent a succession of name changes from PICMME to the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) in 1952, to the Intergovernmental Committee for Migration (ICM) in 1980, and to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 1989; these changes reflect the organization's transition over half a century from a logistics agency to a migration agency.
While IOM's history tracks the man-made and natural disasters of the past half century—Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, Chile 1973, the Vietnamese Boat People 1975, Kuwait 1990, Kosovo and Timor 1999, and the Asian tsunami, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Pakistan earthquake of 2004/2005 and the 2010 Haiti earthquake—its credo that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society has steadily gained international acceptance.
From its roots as an operational logistics agency, it has broadened its scope to become the leading international agency working with governments and civil society to advance the understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration, and uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.
The broader scope of activities has been matched by rapid expansion from a relatively small agency into one with an annual operating budget of $1.3 billion and some 8,400 staff working in over 100 countries worldwide.
As "The Migration Agency" IOM has become the point of reference in the heated global debate on the social, economic and political implications of migration in the 21st century.
IOM's Humanitarian Emergencies Programmes cover emergency relief, return, reintegration, capacity-building and protection of the rights of disaster and war affected populations. IOM engages in programmes that support the return and reintegration of IDPs, while also helping to strengthen government capacity. Where applicable, health and psychosocial support components are integrated into the multisector response activities. IOM programmes in the post-emergency phase bridge the gap between relief and development by empowering communities to assist in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of affected areas as one of the ways to prevent forced migration.
As part of its work in complex emergencies and efforts to promote disaster preparedness and response, IOM continues to build trust and cooperation with partners by sharing information and conducting simulation exercises at the national and regional levels while developing effective response capabilities. Through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), IOM supports “collaborative responses” conducted in close cooperation with the United Nations system and other organizations and with due respect for individual mandates and expertise. Its participation in the United Nations Consolidated Appeals Process, its lead role under the cluster approach in camp coordination and camp management in natural disasters, and the fact that it is a key partner in emergency shelter, logistics, health, protection and early recovery ensure that its activities are well coordinated.
Migration for the benefit of all
Migration and Development
IOM addresses the root causes of migration by providing interventions in areas vulnerable to high rates of economically motivated migration. International migration in the development context relates both to people who have chosen to move of their own accord, and forced migrants who can ultimately end up contributing to both their country of resettlement and possibly their country of origin. In regions that have been recently affected by armed conflict, the Organization works to provide return-friendly environments for displaced persons, to create employment through income-generating activities and to harness the resources of the diaspora for socio-economic development. Recognizing that nearly half of the world’s migrants are now women, IOM also takes into account the opportunities and challenges that this presents for migration and development activities, and presents a gender-specific focus for all remittance projects.
IOM brings together governments, civil society and the private sector to establish labour migration programmes and mechanisms that balance their various interests, and address migrants’ needs through its global network of more than 440 offices. The IOM approach to international labour migration is to foster the synergies between labour migration and development, and to promote legal avenues of labour migration as an alternative to irregular migration. Moreover, IOM aims to facilitate the development of policies and programmes that are in the interest of migrants and society, providing effective protection and assistance to labour migrants and their families.
IOM takes a comprehensive approach to migrant integration in order to ensure that migrants can fully engage with their host society from a socio-economic, political, and cultural perspective. Programmes are tailored to take into account migrant characteristics such as gender, age, duration of stay, and overall economic and societal trends in the receiving country.
IOM draws from a wide variety of integration practices developed by national governments and builds on them for the benefit of other countries with similar goals. Most existing practices and models of successful integration are adapted from either European countries or traditional destination countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, although the growing importance of South-South migration provides an opportunity for the development of practices that can respond to related integration challenges. Programmes are monitored regularly and their impact and relevance evaluated.
IOM's Migrant training goes beyond simply the facts and information dispensed; it also addresses the psychosocial wellbeing of participants. This approach is now seen as an integral part of every IOM migrant training programme. Assisting migrants during periods of transition with compassion and respect significantly contributes to raising their self-esteem and reducing their levels of anxiety. Maintaining integrity throughout the training process begins and ends with the trainer. Those migrant training contributes to the orderly and dignified departure of migrants, and facilitates their successful integration, regardless of whether they be temporary or permanent migrants.
Migration and Health
IOM’s strategic objectives on migration health are derived from the 2008 World Health Assembly Resolution on the Health of Migrants that recommends action along four pillars: Monitoring migrant health; Policy and legal framework; Migrant sensitive health systems; Partnership, networks & multi-country frameworks. These four pillars have been further operationalized and agreed during the Global Consultation on the Health of Migrants organized by WHO, IOM and the Government of Spain.
Migration and Environment
IOM's involvement and interest in the field of migration and the environment is long established, but has received renewed impetus due to the increasingly irrefutable evidence surrounding climate change and its impacts. Through its activities, IOM helps to reduce vulnerability of populations exposed to environmental risk factors; assists populations on the move as a result of environmental causes; and builds the capacities of governments and other actors to face the challenge of environmental migration.
Immigration and Border Management
IOM is increasingly called upon by States to assist governments in meeting their migration's operational challenges. The Immigration and Border Management (IBM) Team, consisting of a core group of specialists with substantial technical expertise and strong border management experience, posted to strategic locations in the field as well as in IOM headquarters, has thus been established to offer guidance and expertise to governments aspiring to improve their migration and border management and operational procedures.
As many as 800,000 people may be trafficked across international borders annually, with many more trafficked within the borders of their own countries.IOM operates from the outset that trafficking in persons needs to be approached within the overall context of managing migration. Its broad range of activities is implemented in partnership with governmental institutions, NGOs and international organizations. The approach is based on three principles that govern all its counter-trafficking activities:Respect for human rights; Physical, mental and social well-being of the individual and his or her community; Sustainability through institutional capacity building of governments and civil society. IOM conducts both quantitative and qualitative research as an essential information source to improve its fight against human trafficking.
Specific areas of focus have included human trafficking routes and trends, the causes and consequences of human trafficking both for the individual trafficked person and for society as well as the structures, motivations, and modi operandi of organized criminal groups. While much of this work has been done at national level, IOM increasingly collects and analyzes data on human trafficking from a regional perspective to better support cooperation between states to combat cross-border trade. To support these efforts, IOM carries out considerable research in the areas of legislation and policy.
For more than 60 years, IOM has helped refugees to begin new lives with dignity and respect. As part of its global contribution to migration management, IOM fosters refugee integration through comprehensive resettlement services. Article 1 of the IOM Constitution mandates the Organization to “… concern itself with the organized transfer of refugees, displaced persons and other individuals in need of international migration services for whom arrangements may be made between the Organization and the States concerned, including those States undertaking to receive them.” Upon the request of governments, IOM provides the following resettlement services: Case Processing; Health Assessments and Travel Health Assistance; Pre-Departure Orientation/Integration; Movement/Travel Operations.
Migration Policy and Research
One of IOM’s strategic priorities in the area of migration policy is to contribute to increased dialogue between migration stakeholders at bilateral, regional and global levels. This strategic priority complements and enhances another of IOM’s strategic priorities, which is to strengthen governmental capacity to monitor and manage migration flows through effective policy making, policy dialogue, information sharing and cooperation. IOM also conducts research designed to guide and inform migration policy and practice. IOM’s research activities world-wide encompass several migration management topics, including migration trends and data, international migration law, migration and development, health and migration, counter-trafficking, labour migration, trade, remittances, irregular migration, integration, and return migration.
"It’s Time to Take Action and Save Lives of Migrants Caught in Crisis"
Observing International Migrants Day on 18 December 2013, the Organization’s Director General, William Lacy Swing noted that 2013 may have been the costliest year on record in terms of lives lost, for migrants seeking to cross international borders clandestinely.
“We will never know the true total, as many migrants died anonymously in deserts, in oceans or in other accidents,” stated Ambassador Swing. "However, our figures show that at least 2,360 migrants died this year while chasing the dream of a new life. These people are desperate – not even a very real fear of death prevents them from making their journey.”
Mr. Swing warned that the doors of previously-welcoming countries are increasingly being shut on the poorest, most desperate migrants. IOM has observed a direct link between tighter border controls and increases in people smuggling, which is now a US35-billion dollar a year business.
“It’s time to take action and save the lives of migrants who would otherwise die while taking desperate measures to cross increasingly restrictive borders. We are calling for measures to enable employers in countries with labour shortages to access potential migrants to work and we need to ensure that these people are not exploited or exposed to gender based violence.We need a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach in the best interests of countries, communities and people, in particular migrants themselves,” continued Mr. Swing.
IOM has conducted a worldwide campaign on the positive Contribution of Migrants. It intends to correct common misrepresentations and information deficits and make it more likely that governments, societies and migrants can reap the considerable positive potential of international migration, and increase the potential for migrants to have their rights protected and fulfilled.
It highlights the historically and overwhelmingly positive contribution migrants make to host and home country societies by focusing not on where they came from but on what they bring: “New skills. New ideas. New points of view. New progress. And what they bring can benefit everyone”. The campaign underlines the individuality of every migrant, focusing not on aggregate numbers, but on the personal story, potential and capacity that every migrant carries “in his or her suitcase” so to speak.
The campaign’s messages will be delivered through a broad range of complementary and mutually supporting media that include: outdoor posters, banners and billboards, info sheets, brochures and other print materials, a dedicated website as well as regular and intense social media presence and others.
On June 20 2013, IOM has launched a social media campaign – #MigrationMeans – to raise awareness of migration in all its forms and to highlight the positive impact of migration from the perspective of the migrants themselves.IOM is inviting migrants to tell the world what migration means for them and how migration has changed their life via social media.
With its two billion users around the world, Facebook and Twitter, the leaders in social media, have become a driver of global migration.Millions of migrants are now using them to network, to locate jobs, to figure out the best way to send remittances home or to assess the risks of irregular migration.
The campaign kicks off with IOM staff around the world inviting migrants to say what migration means to them, using the #MigrationMeans hashtag with a photo and a short caption. Each picture includes someone, or several people, holding up signs saying what migration means to them.
As of June 2014, the International Organization for Migration has 156 member states and 10 observer states.
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Costa Rica
- Côte d'Ivoire
- Czech Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Holy See
- Marshall Islands
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Republic of Korea
- Republic of Moldova
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
- Republic of Macedonia
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Kingdom
- United Republic of Tanzania
- United States
- "IOM Snapshot". International Organization for Migration. July 2014.
- "Members and Observers". International Organization for Migration. December 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
- "History". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
- "Humanitarian Emergencies". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "Migration and Development". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "Labour Migration". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "Migrant Integration". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "Migrant Training". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "Migration and Health". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "Migration and Environment". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "Immigration and Border Management". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "Counter Trafficking". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "Refugee Resettlement". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "Migration Policy and Research". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "It's Time to Take Action and Save Lives of Migrants Caught in Crisis". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "Campaign: Migrants Contribute". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "#MigrationMeans". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
- "Member States". International Organization for Migration. December 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
- "Observer States". International Organization for Migration. December 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
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