Inter-State Consultation Mechanisms on Migration
Inter-State Consultation Mechanisms on migration (ISCM) are state-led, restricted, ongoing information-sharing and policy dialogue forums at the regional, inter-regional or global level for those States with an interest in promoting cooperation in the field of migration.
ISCMs originally emerged to fill a gap in policy discussion on migration which could reach across national borders. Over more than three decades, they have provided an informal, non-binding environment for States to find common ground, to exchange information and experience, and develop a collaborative approach to migration management and governance. ISCMs have contributed to shaping common approaches to national migration governance among their constituent States and to the emergence of convergent policy approaches at the regional, interregional and international levels. ISCMs have given rise to an array of effective practices and partnership models. These include policies, standards, handbooks, initiatives, collaboration frameworks and funds.
In early 2000s “regional consultative process on migration” (“RCP”) was the only term to denote any consultative process on migration even those bridging more than one region. Now “RCP” is used for only those inter-State consultative processes on migration that comprise of States from a geographic region or sub-region.
The term “interregional forum on migration” has been introduced later to denote consultative processes bridging more than 2 regions.
Given the proliferation of consultative processes on migration, the term :inter-State consultation mechanism on migration” (“ISCM”) began to be used to cover regional, interregional and global consultative processes on migration.
Created for the primary purpose of exchange and cooperation, ISCMs were given by their founding States different names: “dialogue,” “process”, “consultation(s)”, “initiative”, “conference”, “forum”; “community”, “commission”, “network”, “partnership”, and “panel”. These different names do not refer to the ISCM’s structure of type but rather come to demonstrate their advisory, consultative and networking nature. Regardless of the nomenclature, ISCMs have the same main characteristics.
Main characteristics of ISCMs
- are multilateral mechanisms led by the States.
- have advisory, consultative nature and offer forum for networking and cooperation among States.
- are dedicated to discussing migration issues only. However they can also discuss interrelation of migration with other domains, such as development, labour, crisis, etc.
- are ongoing and meet on a regular basis to discuss migration-related issues, usually from a policy-making perspective.
- aim to contribute to all phases of migration governance (agenda setting; consensus building through communication; and changes in concrete laws, policies or practices governing how migration is managed at different levels).
- may have formal associations with formal regional institutions – political and economic unions. Such formal association allows ISCMs to advise on and shape migration policies of these formal institutions.
- are valued for their rather informal and non-binding settings that encourages open discussion among the participating States. Outcome documents of ISCM meetings or other ISCM documents have advisory character and are usually are not binding on States, though States are encouraged to consider the implications of, and to incorporate these conclusions and recommendations in, their national policies, legislation and administrative frameworks.
Comprised mainly of States, ISCMs may allow participation of non-State stakeholders, e.g. intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations or other civil society representatives, as members or observers.
The interactive, participatory and continuous policy dialogue offered by ISCMs advances the understanding of the opportunities and challenges of migration, the identification and development of effective policies for addressing those challenges, and ultimately contributes to a process, which culminates in a policy decision on migration at the regional, interregional or global level and / or is translated into national migration policies.
ISCMs contribute to various phases of migration governance from agenda setting and issue definition to consensus building and to changes in concrete laws, policies and practices governing how migration is managed. To this end, they:
- provide a forum for dialogue and discussion to discuss and compare migration laws, practices and policies, often leading to policy coherence and/or the development of laws or agreements.
- create a government network and a network of relationships between the officials of different countries.
- offer technical support, training and capacity building for officials.
- contribute to the design and implementation of pilot projects or (inter-)regional initiatives;
- prepare a common, regional perspective for input into global governance processes;
- collect and analyze data on migration.
Types of ISCMs
Regional Consultative Processes on migration (RCP) are State-led, ongoing, regional information-sharing and policy dialogue meetings dedicated to discussing specific migration issue(s) in a cooperative manner among States from an agreed (usually geographical) region, and may either be officially associated with formal regional institutions, or be informal and non-binding.
Often in literature on migration all ISCMs are referred to as RCPs.
Interregional forums on migration (IRFs) are State-led, repeated, information-sharing and policy dialogue meetings on migration usually connecting two or more regions. IRFs may either be officially associated with formal interregional institutions, or be informal and non-binding.
Often any process on migration, be it regional or interregional, is referred to as an RCP. However, since the number of inter-State-consultation mechanisms and the frequency of their meetings have grown, it is important to distinguish them as regional (RCP) and interregional (IRF) processes on migration.
Global processes on migration are policy dialogue forums on migration at the global level. They may discuss overall migration governance at the global level, or be theme specific and look at the interlinkages between migration and other areas, e.g. development, labour, etc.
Currently active ISCMs (RCPs, IRFs and global processes on migration)
- 5+5 Dialogue on Migration in the Western Mediterranean
- African Union Horn of Africa Initiative on Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants (AU HoAI)
- Almaty Process on Refugee Protection and International Migration
- Arab Regional Consultative Process on Migration and Refugee Affairs (ARCP)
- Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime
- Budapest Process
- Central American Commission of Migration Directors (OCAM)
- Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative Against Trafficking (COMMIT)
- EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative (Khartoum Process)
- Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development (Rabat Process)
- Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD)
- Ibero-American Forum on Migration and Development (FIBEMYD)
- Ibero-American Network of Migration Authorities (RIAM)
- Inter-Governmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees (IGC)
- Migration Dialogue for Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Region (MID-IGAD or IGAD-RCP)
- Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA)
- Migration Dialogue for West Africa (MIDWA)
- Migration Dialogue from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Member States (MIDCOM)
- Ministerial Consultation on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labour for Countries of Origin and Destination in Asia (Abu Dhabi Dialogue)
- Pacific Immigration Development Community (PIDC)
- Pan-African Forum on migration (PAFoM)
- Prague Process
- Regional Conference on Migration (RCM or Puebla Process)
- Regional Consultative Process on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labour for Countries of Origin in Asia (Colombo Process)
- South American Conference on Migration (SACM)
An emerging ISCM is an interim inter-State policy dialogue process among committed States leading to formalization of a new ISCM.
Existing negotiations are required among States that commit to be the founding States and own the new ISCM. It can take up to several years to formally establish an ISCM and render it fully operational.
Currently the following are emerging ISCMs:
- Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC)
- Migration Dialogue for the Indian Ocean Commission Countries (MiDIOCC)
An ISCM can either complete its mission, or discontinue its activities or restructure into another entity. Such ISCMs are called “dormant” leaving the option of resuming their operations.
ISCMs that have completed their mission and have ceased existing
Asia - EU Dialogue on Labour Migration
Asia-Pacific Consultations on Refugees, Displaced Persons and Migrants (APC)
EU-South Caucasus Cluster Process
Regional Conference to Address the Problems of Refugees, Displaced Persons, other Forms of Involuntary Displacement and Returnees in the Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and Relevant Neighboring Countries (CIS Conference)
The Berne Initiative
United Nations High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (UN HLD IM)
ISCMs that have been inactive for the past several years but might resume their activities in the future
ACP-EU Dialogue on Migration and Development
Asia – Europe Meeting’s (ASEM) Conference of the Directors General of Immigration and Management of Migratory Flows (ASEM MD)
European Union – Latin America and the Caribbean Structured and Comprehensive Bi-regional Dialogue on Migration (EU-CELAC MD)
Migration Dialogue for Central African States (MIDCAS)
ISCMs that have been converted into a project
Africa-EU Partnership on Migration, Mobility and Employment (MME)
Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration, Mobility and Integrated Border Management (former Söderköping Process)
Mediterranean Transit Migration (MTM)
Tripoli Process (Joint Africa-EU Declaration on Migration and Development)
IOM’s Role in Inter-State Consultation Mechanisms on Migration
Contributing to increased dialogue between migration stakeholders at bilateral, regional and global levels is one of IOM’s strategic priorities in the area of migration policy.
IOM’s engagement in ISCMs aims at providing evidence-based technical support, informing and influencing policy-making in the field of migration governance, advancing multi-lateral understanding and action on migration issues and contributing to practical solutions to contemporary migration challenges.
IOM has been facilitating contact and exchange among ISCMs themselves as well as ISCM partnerships with other actors.
IOM has implemented numerous projects that support the activities of various ISCMs.
Research on ISCMs
IOM has conducted research and produced publications on migration processes. The most notable are the following:
- MRS 3 “The Role of Regional Consultative Processes in Managing International Migration”
- MRS 38 “An Assessment of Principal Regional Consultative Processes on Migration”
- MRS 45 “Regional Inter-State Consultation Mechanisms on Migration Approaches, Recent Activities and Implications for Global Governance of Migration”
- Advancing a common understanding of migration governance across regions. ISCM Assessment Report (2019)
IOM as a participant/member in ISCMs:
- IOM is a participant (Member Organization) in the Bali Process, Budapest Process, IGC and the Prague Process.
- IOM coordinates the Global ISCM Meetings (Meeting of Global and (Inter)Regional Consultative Processes on migration).
IOM as an observer to ISCMs:
- 5+5 Dialogue on Migration in the Western Mediterranean
- AU HoAI
- Khartoum Process
- Rabat Process
Secretariat Services to ISCMs:
IOM serves as technical secretariat for the following ISCMs:
- Almaty Process (together with UNHCR)
- AU HoAI (together with AUC and UNHCR)
- Bali Process
- Colombo Process
- as well as the Meeting of Global and (Inter)Regional Consultative Processes on migration (Global RCP ISCM Meetings).
In addition, IOM acts as the interim secretariat for the emerging ISCMs CMC and MiDIOCC.
Secretariat support is provided by IOM to the following processes having own secretariats:
- MIDCOM (in consultation with COMESA)
- MIDIGAD (in consultation with IGAD Secretariat and AUC)
- MIDWA (in consultation with ECOWAS)
- PAFOM (in consultation with the AUC)
IOM administratively hosts:
- IGC Secretariat
- RCM Secretariat and
- GFMD Support Unit.
IOM focal point for ISCMs
IOM Headquarters / International Partnerships Division (IPD) coordinates, develops and disseminates IOM’s contributions to Inter-State consultation mechanisms on migration and supports IOM’s participation to regional (RCPs), interregional (IRFs) and global consultative processes on migration as a member, partner, observer or provider of technical expertise or secretariat support according to the participating governments requests. IOM/IPD:
- conducts research and publications on ISCMs;
- maintains Online Repository of ISCM Materials;
- collects and shares information on ISCMs on the dedicated section of IOM website and in the Annual Newsletter entitled "ISCM Highlights";
- provides an overview of all important ISCM meetings through the ISCM Meetings Calendar;
- facilitates information sharing and cross-fertilization among ISCMs;
- holds the Meeting of Global and (Inter)Regional Consultative Processes on migration, known as GRCP Meetings. The GRCP facilitates formulation of collective positions, inputs and approaches by ISCMs (e.g. GRCP 4 recommendations for the 2013 UN HL, GRCP 6 recommendations on ISCMs’ contribution to attaining the SDGs, and GRCP 7 recommendations on ISCMs’ engagement in the GCM).