The International Organization for Migration has a long-standing and extensive working relationship with the United Nations (UN) at several levels. Today, there are four formal elements on which IOM's overall relationship with the United Nations is based.

  • The first is the observer status in the UN General Assembly, which IOM obtained in 1992 (GA resolution A/RES/47/4).
  • The second is IOM's inclusion by the General Assembly as a "standing invitee" in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) which also started in 1992.
  • The third element is the Cooperation Agreement between IOM and the UN, which was signed in 1996 and provides a formal basis for a closer collaboration between the two secretariats.
  • At IOM´s Special Council in June 2016, IOM Member States endorsed the move to join the United Nations. IOM and the UN signed the agreement in September. 

In practical terms, the increasing operational collaboration that has evolved over the past decade and a half between IOM and a broad range of UN entities has also resulted in more frequent ad hoc inclusion of IOM in relevant UN working groups. This was especially been the case in emergency and/or post-conflict rehabilitation situations, but also extends to a number of ongoing consultative processes, e.g., on women and gender equality.

Observer Mission to the United Nations

In addition, IOM's Permanent Observer Office in New York maintains ongoing active liaison with the United Nations Secretariat, notably the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the Department of Peace-Keeping Operations (DPKO) and the UN Department for Safety and Security (UNDSS), in order to provide information about IOM's policies and activities, and to advise on substantive matters related to the Organization's fields of expertise.

The Office of the Permanent Observer also fosters the exchange of information with New York-based United Nations bodies, such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on matters of mutual concern. Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) have been signed with many of them which govern the particular fields and details of the cooperation. The Office also represents IOM at various working groups set up by the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) and OCHA.

UN Country Teams

Since the Organization joined the United Nations System in September 2016, IOM Chiefs of Mission participate in UN Country Teams (UNCTs) as official members. Field missions maintain close working relationships with UN partners; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) being some of the most prominent among them. Cooperation includes joint organization and execution of programmes and activities, close coordination and the provision of complementary services.

Inter-Agency Standing Committee

The introduction of the "cluster approach" has incorporated IOM even more firmly in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC). It presents an opportunity for the humanitarian community to highlight the unique characteristics of each organization and capitalize on their strengths. IOM has taken on the lead role for the Camp Co-ordination/Camp Management Cluster (CCCM) in natural disasters and also plays a critical role in various other clusters including shelter and logistics.

United Nations Network on Migration

IOM serves as the Coordinator and Secretariat of the United Nations Network on Migration. The Secretariat provides support to enhance the ability of the United Nations system to deliver effective system-wide support to States and ensure greater coherence in the migration domain, specifically with regard to the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), under overall IOM coordination.

The UN Network on Migration was established in May 2018 at the request of the Secretary-General to ensure effective, timely and coordinated UN system-wide support, at country, regional and global levels, to Member States in the implementation, follow-up and review of the GCM. 

The UN Network on Migration replaced the Global Migration Group (GMG).