Global Compact for Migration
On 19 September 2016, Heads of State and Government from the 193 UN Member States came together at the UN General Assembly to discuss topics related to migration and refugees at the global level. The adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants recognized the need of a comprehensive approach to migration. As a result, UN Member States agreed to cooperate in the elaboration of a global compact on safe, orderly and regular Migration, planned to be adopted at the intergovernmental conference on international migration in 2018 in Morocco. The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants also set in motion a separate negotiation process for the Global Compact on Refugees.
The Global Compact for Migration’s Six Thematic Sessions and Recommendations relevant to data issues
The global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration (GCM), intends to inter alia enhance the protection of the safety, dignity and human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status, and at all times, strengthen global governance of migration, combat xenophobia, racism and discrimination towards all migrants. Although the process of developing a global compact for migration is state-led, various stakeholders (i.e., civil society, scientific and knowledge-based institutions, parliaments, local authorities, the private sector and migrants themselves) will and have had the opportunity to contribute their views, opinions, and expertise to it.
The GCM is meant to be consistent with target 10.7 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - in which Member States committed to cooperate internationally to facilitate safe, orderly and responsible migration - and its scope is defined in Annex II of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. More specifically to international migration data, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants calls upon States to ensure that migration data are:
Disaggregated by sex and age and include information on regular and irregular flows, the economic impacts of migration and refugee movements, human trafficking, the needs of refugees, migrants and host communities and other issues.
In the UN Secretary-General’s 2016 report, “In Safety and Dignity: Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants”, there is a renewed call to improve data on migration. The report is one of many that recognize the need for better international migration data. Official statistics on international migration remain very poor, and many migrants remain “invisible” because they are not registered; some countries still do not record a person’s country of birth or citizenship in their census. Moreover, internationally comparable data on migration are relatively scarce. While it is too early to say what the GCM recommendations and follow up and review process will be, a priority should be to enhance international efforts in the collection, analysis and sharing of migration data.
Earlier this year, UN Member States agreed on the process and timeline for the GCM. Between April and October 2017, a series of six informal thematic sessions on facilitating safe, orderly and regular migration were held with the purpose of gathering substantive input and concrete recommendations for the development of the GCM.
- Thematic Session 1: Human rights of all migrants
Concrete data recommendations included: (1) improve disaggregated data collection, analysis and relevant policy making; (2) collect data on hate speech and hate crimes at the national level; and (3) use existing data, for example from National Human Rights Institutions and UN treaty bodies.
- Thematic Session 2: Drivers of migration
Concrete data recommendations included: (1) strengthen the capacities of national institutions to ensure comprehensive data gathering, disaggregation and analysis; (2) improve quality of data data to better identify migration trends and their interrelations with different drivers, particularly climate change, including by downscaling data to local and household levels and by integrating qualitative and quantitative data; (3) develop accurate and country-specific migration profiles; (4) promote data collection overtime to better understand the migration trajectory; and (5) harmonize methodologies of data collection and analysis to improve coordination and interoperability between national institutions as well as between countries.
- Thematic Session 3: International cooperation and governance of migration
Concrete data recommendations included: (1) encourage governments to consider publishing regular reports on migration data; (2) improve collection and analysis of data through sharing of collection and analysis schemes and better disaggregation to reduce disappearances; (3) integrate migration data in household surveys, census documents and reports on national development programmes; and (4) encourage States to share evidence with each other.
- Thematic Session 4: Contributions of migrants and diasporas to sustainable development
Concrete data recommendations included: (1) look at gender-disaggregated data in the context of remittances, including with regards to the use of technologies; (2) collect disaggregated and comparable data on remittances transfers, including an impact mapping linked to average the costs of the transfers; (3) collect and use relevant data for governments to map out available skills and to positively channel it for the economy.
- Thematic Session 5: Smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery
Concrete data recommendations included: (1) encourage victim protection by collecting data in a rights-based, child – and gender sensitive – manner; (2) support the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Counter Trafficking Collaborative that provides an open access data platform on human trafficking; (3) analyze the trends on social media used by migrant smugglers and human traffickers and share such information with the appropriate law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
- Thematic Session 6: Irregular migration and regular pathways, including decent work, labour mobility, recognition of skills and qualifications and other relevant measures.
Session 6 occurred in mid-October 2017 and concrete data recommendations are to be determined.
Four United Nations Regional Commissions also took place. The regional commissions discussed the thematic migration topics above, at a regional level, including Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Asia, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific.
Various data sources are relevant to the migration themes discussed in each of the six thematic sessions informing the elaboration of a GCM. Some of the main sources are:
Data sources relevant to migrant rights
Socio-economic and administrative statistics such as country-based labour force and household surveys and censuses; country-based population registries; administrative records on number of detained migrants, deaths at borders and return figures.
- Some international databases currently being used for human rights assessment include the United Nations Population Division’s Global Migration Database, the UNHCR Statistical Online Population Database, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Database on Immigrants in OECD countries.
- Events-based data sources on human rights violations and abuses include OHCHR Universal Human Rights Index, and reports by human rights experts such as the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants.
- The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey, which was completed in 2008, interviewed 23,500 migrant and ethnic minorities across the European Union, and covers topics such as discrimination, victimization, and police stops. FRA has launched the second series of this survey.
Drivers of migration
- Every year, the Gallup World Poll (GWP) conducts nationally representative surveys in over 160 countries. The annual surveys provide an indication of who is planning to migrate, which countries have the highest number of potential migrants, and which countries people would like to move to. More specifically, the GWP data provides an insight of people’s migration intentions. For more information on GWP, see GMDAC’s Data Briefing “Measuring Global Migration Potential”.
- The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), in partnership with Eurostat and the OECD, gathers data on the mobility of tertiary-level international students and doctorate holders. This database focuses on the numbers of international students at destination countries. The data is then compiled by the UIS, which uses it to estimate the number of students from a given country studying abroad.
- There are also data sources dealing with migration driven by environmental causes, such as the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, which publishes annual reports on people displaced by disasters on IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) data.
Contribution of migrants and diaspora
The primary database on remittances comes from countries’ balance of payments, estimated by central banks at the national level and compiled by the International Monetary Fund.
- Another database for global remittance flows is the Migration and Remittances Database by the World Bank, which separates data by inflows and outflows globally.
International cooperation and governance of migration
IOM’s Migration Governance Framework was created to measure and guide member states in the elaboration and improvement of their respective governance bodies dealing with migration.
- Furthermore, the 2016 Migration Governance Index (MGI) measures migration policies in 15 countries in terms of how comprehensive and coherent their policies are. For the second phase of MGI, referred to now as the Migration Governance Indicators, 14 countries will be added for analysis.
The most commonly available data on irregular migration are derived from national administrative sources measuring enforcement of migration legislation, not irregular migration per se. Data on irregular migration mainly rely on a number of indicators available from these sources, such as border apprehensions and refusal of entry into a country, applications for regularization or voluntary return programmes or sanctions incurred by employers of undocumented migrants.
- Some data sources on regional irregular migration flows include Frontex, which publishes data on “irregular border crossings” in Europe; the Organization of American States (OAS), which collects and publishes data on irregular migration within the Americas; and the Mixed Migration Hub (MHub), which provides knowledge and research on mixed migratory movements in North Africa.
Data strengths & limitations
The availability, quality and comparability of data on international migration has improved in the last years. At the global level, estimate of total stocks of migrants as well as the level of remittances can be made. However, there is still very little knowledge about the wellbeing of migrants, the reasons for migration, the skills of migrants, the scale of irregular migration, and the impact of migration policies and programmes.
It is still very difficult to estimate the number of migrants around the world in any particular year; only one in four countries provide data on international migration flows to the UN Statistics Division. Moreover, information about national migration policies is often lacking; a global comprehensive survey of national migration policies is yet to be done. Furthermore, data on migrants’ health and well-being is still not collected systematically around the world, and especially in developing countries.Back to top
Data Bulletin: Informing a global compact for migration, launched by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), aims to summarize in an accurate and accessible fashion the existing evidence on migration to support the discussions and any follow-up activities of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. The following bulletins have been issued to-date:
- Issue 1: Global Migration Trends - Nov 2017
- Issue 2: More Than Numbers: The value of migration data - Nov 2017
- Issue 3: Measuring Migration Governance - Nov 2017
Data Bulletins outline the strengths and limitations of relevant migration data, and highlight innovative data practices which are pertinent to a global compact for migration. Data Bulletins reflect the collaborative nature of a global compact for migration process by including relevant contributions from different parts of IOM as well as other agencies and migration experts. More details
|2016a||Global Compact Thematic Paper: International Migration Statistics. IOM, GMDAC, Berlin, December.|
|2016b||Improving Data on International Migration - towards Agenda 2030 and the Global Compact on Migration. Discussion Paper. IOM,GMDAC, Berlin, 1-3 December. Available from United Nations Women (UN Women)|
|2017||Towards a global compact on migration that works for migrant women. UN Women, 12 April.|
|International Organization for Migration (IOM)|
|2016a||Measuring well-governed Migration: The 2016 Migration Governance Index, A Study by the Economist Intelligence Unit. IOM and EIU.|
|2016b||Migrant Smuggling Data and Research: A global review of the emerging evidence base. IOM, Switzerland, n.d.|
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