IOM Partnership with the Civil Society Organizations


IOM and Civil Society Organizations cooperate on broad range of migration issues at global, regional, national and local levels. 

IOM CSO partners include:

  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and networks
  • Civil society organizations (CSOs) and networks
  • Advocacy groups
  • Migrants' organizations
  • Trade unions and/or professional associations
  • Media organizations
  • Academic, research institutes & universities
  • Philanthropic foundations

IOM is committed to sustained and mutually beneficial interaction with CSOs that builds on synergies in policy and operational areas of migration for the benefit of all. CSOs often have strong ties to the communities in which they work, an aspect which complements and enhances the impact of IOM efforts in the field of migration. Where CSOs are national or local in nature, IOM-CSO cooperation can contribute to the local ownership and sustainability of IOM programming.

IOM and CSOs cooperate in joint advocacy as well as design and implementation of projects covering an array of activities, including, migrant assistance, research, awareness raising, advocacy, training and capacity building, and other forms of service delivery in humanitarian, early recovery and development settings. 

Additionally, IOM is involved with the state-led Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), which has developed a distinct civil society programme — Civil Society Days, that IOM participates in together with CSOs. 

Further, as part of the UN Country Team, IOM is involved in the Cluster Approach and other initiatives by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) to improve humanitarian assistance, which benefit from close cooperation with CSOs.

IOM has facilitated CSO’s contribution to global processes, such as the development of the Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Experiencing Conflict or Natural Disaster. 


The IOM Constitution specifies that IOM shall closely cooperate in carrying out its functions with non-governmental organizations, concerned with migration, refugees and human resources. 

The 2007 IOM Strategy specifies as one of the key activities to be undertaken in achieving the primary goal of IOM as being the facilitation of humane and orderly responses to international migration “technical cooperation and operational assistance to States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations”[1]

The Review of IOM Strategy highlights the growing and significant role of IOM in promoting multi-stakeholder cooperation on migration issues and emphasizes the need for formal and informal interaction between IOM and civil society at national, bilateral, regional, and global levels.[2] 

IOM Consultations with CSOs

To facilitate a sustained dialogue with NGOs having a mandate related to migration since 2011 IOM organizes Annual CSO Consultations

The Annual CSO Consultations have addressed various themes as follows:

  • 60 Years Advancing Migrant Rights and Migrant Protection (11 November 2011);
  • Enhancing Dialogue, Cooperation and Partnership on Migration (25 October 2012);
  • Migrants and Development (12 September 2013);
  • Follow up to the 2013 UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development (9 October 2014);
  • Protecting and Positively Impacting Migrant Lives (18 September 2015); and
  • Post – 19 September Summit (4 November 2016). 

Since 2015 IOM organizes also annual IOM NGO Humanitarian Consultations for NGOs engaged in Humanitarian aspects of migration:

  • IOM’s role and emerging policy in humanitarian response and partnership (13 June 2016)
  • Partnerships (30 June 2015)

Observer status for NGOs

As a recognition of mutually beneficial collaboration, international NGOs working in the area of migration can apply for an Observer status in accordance with standard eligibility criteria adopted by the IOM Council (having principal activity in the area of migration, refugees or human resources; organization’s aims and purposes in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles of IOM Constitution; existing history of cooperation with IOM; international or conducting work beyond the national boundaries; holding a consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council).  This status enables observer organizations to attend (with no right to vote) the sessions of IOM Council, which convene migration policymakers from IOM Member States, Observer States and Observer organizations. 


[1] MC/INF/287 IOM Strategy Document, Point 3. 
[2] MC/INF/302 Review of the IOM Strategy, Part IV, Paragraph 79.