IOM vs. ILO: The battle for the “leading organisation in migration” #HLD2013

UN HLD 1Are there any concrete outcomes to be expected from the UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development? No and yes. No, because no binding resolution or the like is to be expected from this meeting. Yes, because it now becomes very obvious where the debate on the central organisation for global migration is heading to: Just now, representatives from the EU, the USA and  Sweden as the current chair of the GFMD have spoken out for IOM as “the leading organisation in migration” – a characterization that could be heard and read mantra-like from IOM representatives these past days as well. This fixation will very likely be met with reservations if not clear rejection from Migrant Civil Society:

they question the legitimacy of the IOM to speak on behalf of migrants, since the organisation is not part of the UN System but only accountable to its member states. Alexander Betts thus  characterizes the Organisation to be nearer to a private firm than a typical international organization. There is also a heated debate whether the IOM is only supporting “voluntary return programs” or involved in outright deportations. Researcher Fabiani Georgi makes the very serious accusation that IOM is ‘managing
migration to the disadvantage of refugees, migrant workers and the subaltern classes of
developing countries’.

To be fair, this is  only one side of the story. On the other side, IOM provides very valuable research and surely also does important work on the ground. But many migrant organisations favour cooperation with the ILO, which is part of the UN System and more democratic in its tripartite structure. ILO statements made during the HLD such as “We need to look beyond the  flow of remittances and provide decent jobs in a rights-based migration framework” where thus met with sympathy. Also, the ILO cenvention 189 on decent work for domestic workers is seen as a historic success for the righs of Migrant domestic workers.

But this is not where the discussion about this “turf war”, as one observer put it,  is heading to: The US representative just stated that the US “strongly, strongly supports the exclusive migration mandate for IOM”. It was praised as “the only organization with Migration at its core”. The US and Sweden therefore suggested to grant IOM a permanent co-chair in the Global Migration Group (GMG – a coordination Body for the various international agencies involved in Migration”)and/or make it its secretariat. Surely, it is a mere coincidence, then, that the ILO will be the next chair of the GMG… 😉


About Dr. Stefan Rother

Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute at the University of Freiburg -- Freelance journalist -- You can find my CV at the links below:
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4 Responses to IOM vs. ILO: The battle for the “leading organisation in migration” #HLD2013

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  4. Pingback: IOM will join UN System today – but without any rights-based mandate #UN4RefugeesMigrants | The GFMD, Migration, Development and Human Rights

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