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 for safe, orderly and regular Migration, expected to be adopted at an intergovernmental conference on international migration on 10-11 December 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 preparatory phases and recommendations relevant to data issues
The invitation to Heads of State and Governments to discuss issues related to migration and refugees at the UN General Assembly sent an important political message that migration matters. In adopting the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, the 193 UN Member States recognized the need for a comprehensive approach to human mobility and enhanced cooperation at the global level. The New York Declaration calls upon Member States to:
- protect the safety, dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status, and at all times;
- support countries rescuing, receiving and hosting large numbers of refugees and migrants;
- integrate migrants – addressing their needs and capacities as well as those of receiving communities – in humanitarian and development assistance frameworks and planning;
- combat xenophobia, racism and discrimination towards all migrants;
- develop, through a state-led process, non-binding principles and voluntary guidelines on the treatment of migrants in vulnerable situations; and
- strengthen global governance of migration, including by bringing IOM into the UN family and through the development of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.
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) have had the opportunity to contribute their views, opinions, and expertise.
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 orderly, safe 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, 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 (i.e., legal identification). All migrants, regardless of their status, could benefit from other types of identification such as civic registration (birth, marriage, death), and access cards to services (municipalities could use these).
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, follow up and review process will be, a priority should be to enhance international efforts in the collection, analysis and sharing of migration data.
In early 2017, UN Member States agreed on the process and timeline for a GCM. The elaboration of a Compact is taking place through the implementation of three phases (i.e., consultation phase, stocktaking phase, and negotiation phase).
Phase I (consultation) – Between April and December 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.
- Human rights of all migrants
- Drivers of migration
- International cooperation and governance of migration
- Contributions of migrants and diasporas to sustainable development
- Smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery
- Irregular migration and regular pathways, including decent work, labour mobility, recognition of skills and qualifications and other relevant measures
Four UN Regional Consultations also took place in 2017 to discuss the thematic migration topics above, at a regional level (i.e., Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Asia, and Asia and the Pacific). In Africa, the UN, with the support of IOM, held sub regional consultations (Southern Africa, West Africa, Central Africa and North Africa) which culminated in a regional consultation for the whole continent.
Phase II (stocktaking) – The phase II consisted of a preparatory stocktaking meeting took place in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in December 2017. The results of the stocktaking meeting were a summary prepared by the Chair, and a report by the Secretary General of the United Nations with concrete recommendations for a GCM. The two main purposes of the meeting were to (1) review and distill the wealth of information gathered in phase I – the consultation phase – and (2) engage in comprehensive analysis in order to foresee the process going forward, namely the intergovernmental negotiations in the first semester of 2018.
The six thematic areas discussed in phase I were considered in conjunction with six different dimensions: human, community, local/sub-national, national, regional, and global (see infographic above).
Phase III (intergovernmental negotiations) – The Zero Draft of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration marked the beginning of Phase III for the elaboration of a GCM. The schedule for the intergovernmental negotiations is from 5 February 2018 (with the presentation of the Zero Draft) to 13 July with the last meeting for negotiations.
Updated on 26 March 2018, Revision 1 Draft of the GCM presented 22 broad objectives to achieve safe, orderly and regular migration, under which specific actionable commitments were proposed. The importance of data for well-informed policies is repeatedly stated throughout the Revision 1 Draft, as is the necessity of the Global Migration Data Portal to maintaining and disseminating accurate and timely data. Objective 1 of the Draft advises to “Collect and utilize accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies”, thus putting data upfront in the Draft.
Specific actionable commitments related to data in the Draft include:
- Harmonize methodologies on collection, analysis and dissemination of migration-related data and indicators to achieve international compatibility.
- Develop a global programme on national capacities in data collection, analysis and dissemination to share data, address data gaps and assess key migration trends, that encourages collaboration between relevant actors at all levels, provides dedicated training for government officials, financial support and technical assistance, and leverages new data sources, including big data and as reviewed by the UN Statistical Commission on a regular basis.
- Collect, analyse and use data on the effects and benefits of migration, as well as the contributions of migrants and diasporas for sustainable development, with a view to inform the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related strategies at the national, regional and global levels.
- Provide support, evidence and updated inputs to this Portal, with a view to systematically consolidate all relevant data in a transparent, comparable and standardized manner.
- Establish and strengthen regional migration observatories to collect and analyse data in line with United Nations data standards.
- Improve national data collection, analysis and dissemination by integrating migration-relevant questions in national censuses, including country of birth, country of citizenship, and country of residence five years prior to census, most recent arrival date and reason for migrating.
- Conduct household, labour force and other post-census surveys to collect information on the social and economic integration of migrants.
- Use administrative records, such as border records, visa, resident permits and other sources, to produce migration related statistics.
- Develop country-specific migration profiles to foster evidence-based policy development through collecting and sharing data on all migration-relevant aspects.
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 migrants’ rights
- Socio-economic and administrative data sources such as labour force, household surveys and censuses; population registries; administrative records on numbers 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 migrants 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.
Data sources on ‘drivers of migration’
- The UNESCO and 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 are then compiled by the UIS, which uses them 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 country and Displacement Matrix (DTM) data.
- IOM’s DTM is a system to track and monitor the displacement and population mobility. It is designed to regularly and systematically capture, process and disseminate information to provide a better understanding of the movements and evolving needs of displaced populations, whether on site or en-route.
Contribution of migrants and diaspora
- The primary database on remittances comes from the balance of payments, estimated by central banks at the national or regional 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 guide member states in the elaboration and improvement of their respective governance bodies dealing with migration. Furthermore, the 2016 Migration Governance Index supports countries to examine their migration policies, in terms of how comprehensive and coherent they are, in 15 studied countries. A new version is being elaborated known as the Migration Governance Indicators, to which 14 countries will be added for analysis. The evolution from Index to Indicators was due to various methodological reasons, but also to ensure it constitutes an individual tool for each government to measure its own internal progress and possibly roll up the global progress; rather than a ranking tool.
The most commonly available data on irregular migration are derived from national administrative sources measuring enforcement of migration legislation, not irregular migration per se. These sources may provide data on, for example, 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 which are relevant to 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; the Mixed Migration Hub (MHub), providing knowledge and research on mixed migratory movements in North Africa; migration profiles, which present a national and/or regional overview of migratory movements and trends; and the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative, the first global data hub on human trafficking, with data contributed by counter-trafficking organizations around the world.
Data strengths & limitations
The availability, quality and comparability of data on international migration has been improving, although many limitations remain. At the global level, total stocks of migrants, as well as the level of remittances can be made. However, there is still very little knowledge about the flows of migrants, their wellbeing (of migrants), the reasons for migration, the skills of migrants, the scale of irregular migration, and the impact of migration policies and programmes as well as the impact of migration itself on countries.
It is still very difficult to estimate the number of migrants in the world in any particular year. Only one in four countries provides data on international migration flows to the UN Statistics Division. Information on national migration policies is also often lacking; a global comprehensive survey of national migration policies is yet to be carried out. Furthermore, data on migrants’ health and well-being are still not collected systematically across the globe, 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
- Issue 4: Improving data for safe, orderly and regular migration – Jan 2018
- Issue 5: Big data and migration – March 2018
|2016a||Global Compact Thematic Paper: International Migration Statistics. IOM, GMDAC, Berlin, December.|
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.|
|2005||International Agenda for Migration Management. IOM, Berne, 16-17 December.|
|Global Migration Group (GMG)|
|2017||Handbook for Improving Migration Data Development. KNOMAD and World Bank, Washington. Available from Ceriani Cernadas, P., Michele L., Liliana K.|
|2015||Human Rights Indicators for Migrants and their Families. KNOMAD, n.d.|
|European Union, Agency for Fundamental Rights|
|2009||European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey. Report, n.d. FRONTEX, European Border and Coast Guard Agency|
|FRONTEX, European Border and Coast Guard Agency|
|2017||Risk Analysis for 2017. Report, Warsaw, n.d|
|United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)|
|2003||Handbook for Registration. Handbook, September.|