Facebook and Twitter New Drivers of Migration, Says IOM Director General

Posted: 
06/05/12

An increasingly connected and mobile world, changing demographics,
more frequent natural and man-made disasters – all these
factors are contributing to a massive rise in migration, which must
be managed in a legal, regulated and responsible manner, IOM
Director General William Lacy Swing told 300 delegates at an
international conference on border management in Bangkok yesterday
(5th June).

Ambassador Swing’s keynote speech to the 2nd Conference on
Technical Cooperation and Capacity Building for Border Management
opened three days of discussions, deliberations and networking
among governments, international organizations, the travel
industry, technological companies and academics.

In a wide-ranging speech under the theme Travel and Reducing
Risks through Effective Pre-Departure Data Management, Mr. Swing
stressed “migration is here to stay, make no bones about
it.” He underlined that “historically, migration has
been overwhelmingly positive” in human development and
stressed the need to work – in partnership – in a
“whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach in the best
interests of countries, communities and people, in particular
migrants themselves.”

This would be ever more vital in a world where “the
multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious country will be
the norm rather than the exception,” he noted. 

Mr. Swing continued that as airline passenger movement rises
from 800 million journeys in 2009 to an expected 3.3 billion in
1014, another phenomenon is equally noteworthy: the growth of
access to the internet from 300 million in 2000 to two billion
today.

“One in three people in the world is connected,” he
told the conference. “They know where the jobs are and the
problems are. Facebook with 800 million users and Twitter with up
to 600 million users have become drivers of global migration. And
if we as IOM are not part of that dialogue then we are not doing
our job.”

The mismatch in global labour demand and supply was a trend that
would become more and more evident, Mr. Swing predicted, which
underscored the necessity of a comprehensive global approach.
“The growth in population will be in the poorest and youngest
countries which cannot produce jobs. There will be more irregular
migration and a propensity to make claims for asylum as a way to
gain entry to labour markets.”

He cautioned against an approach which concentrated only on
tighter visa regulations and closed borders which he said would
“drive people into the hands of the great criminals of our
day: the people smugglers and traffickers.”

Migration was also being influenced by natural and man-made
disasters, declining birth rates in the developed world, as well as
food, water and energy insecurity, said Mr. Swing. He cited the
example of the Horn of Africa “where it is all happening at
once. You have a scarcity of food and water, terrorism, insecurity
and poor human rights.”

While welcoming the huge advances in technology and data
management, which have allowed ever-increasing numbers of people to
pass through borders, reduced queues at border choke points and
facilitated the  interdiction of those of interest, Mr. Swing
also cautioned on the need to protect personal information.

He quoted the figure of 15 million US citizens who are victims
of identity theft every year. “Identity theft has been
characterized as the world’s fastest-growing crime and costs
Governments and taxpayers millions, if not billions, of dollars
each year.”

Following his speech Mr. Swing cut the ribbon on an exhibition
of all the latest technologies available in border management,
representing some 30 leading companies. Many of the services and
technological innovations on show will inform the discussion over
the three days of the conference, along with privacy and data
protection, best practices in pre-departure data collection and
other border management developments.

The conference is hosted by IOM, supported by the Department of
Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand,
and organized by APSCA, the Asia Pacific Smart Card Association.
Partners include ASEAN, Interpol, UNODC, the UN Counter-Terrorism
Executive Directorate and the World Customs Organization.

For more information please contact

Joe Lowry

IOM’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok

Tel. +66 81 870 8081

Email: "mailto:jlowry@iom.int">jlowry@iom.int

IOM Director General William Lacy Swing delivers a keynote speech to the second conference on technical cooperation and capacity building for border management in Bangkok on 5 June.&nbsp; <BR>&copy; IOM 2012 (Photo by Pattinya Kruttin)