IOM Chief of Staff Addresses International Metropolis Conference in Japan

Japan - IOM Chief of Staff, Ovais Sarmad yesterday (27/10) addressed the International Metropolis conference in Nagoya, Japan. The five-day conference (24-28/10), which this year has the theme Creating Trust through Wisdom on Migration and Integration, comes at a time when the world faces unprecedented migration and integration challenges.

Now in their 20th year, the International Metropolis conferences are the largest annual gathering of experts (from academia, governments, and civil society) in the fields of migration, integration and diversity.

In his remarks, Sarmad focused on “the place of migration in today’s world”, “unanswered migration questions” and some answers to some of those questions. Referring to the recent UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants, the development of a Global Compact on Migration and IOM joining the UN system, Sarmad noted that all these important developments signalled the global importance of migration and migrants while also validating the urgent need to link human mobility with related policy agendas, including humanitarian interventions, development, human rights, climate change and peace and security.

“The challenge will be to reconcile the need for generally applicable principles with the flexibility that governments require to attend to their specific and changing migratory realities. I encourage all of you to pay particular attention to the development of the process and to help shape both the form and content of the compact,” he said.

He added, “IOM has long advocated and actively supported a holistic migration policy approach: one that recognizes migration is inevitable, owing to demography and other realities; necessary, if skills are to be available, jobs filled, and nations to flourish; and, desirable, if well-managed through sensible, humane and responsible policies.”

“The logical conclusion is that migration is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be managed. IOM stands ready to work closely with all of you and to support your efforts in making migration beneficial to countries of origin, transit, and destination,” he said.

Sarmad also told the conference that IOM will support its Member States and the international community with technical and policy expertise to ensure the Global Compact on Migration:

  • is grounded in the Sustainable Development Agenda; in particular by drawing strong links with SDG 4 – education for all – in order to address the negative perception of migrants and migration at the societal level;
  • addresses migration from a holistic perspective, including in its humanitarian, development, human rights, climate change and other dimensions by putting migrants at front and center of policy dialogue and development and both humanitarian and development actions;
  • facilitates more opportunities for safe and regular migration, at all skills levels and for education and family unity and thus reducing the risks and social cost of migration;
  • reduces the incidence and impacts of unsafe and irregular migration, including trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants to prevent and eradicate human suffering; and
  • promotes genuine partnership between countries of origin, transit and destination of migrants, as well as with civil society, the private sector, migrants and diaspora groups, in a spirit to respect diversity and inclusive societies.

The conference, which is being held in Asia for the first time, is supported by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aichi Prefectural Government, Nagoya City, Kwansei Gakuin University and the Japan Association for Migration Policy Studies.

For further information please contact Benjamin Lelis at IOM HQ, Tel. +41 88 717 9421, Email: