President of UN General Assembly Gives Keynote Address at Historic IOM Council

Switzerland -  President of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Peter Thomson has stressed the increasing need for IOM and its work during the current global climate. He made the remarks yesterday (5/12) during his keynote address at the opening of IOM’s 107th Council in Geneva – the first since the agency joined the United Nations earlier this year.

The Council (5-8 December) marks the 65th anniversary of IOM’s founding on 5 December 1951. During his address, the Fijian diplomat highlighted IOM’s origins after the Second World War. “We find ourselves now at a time when we are experiencing the largest humanitarian and refugee crisis since that war. In a world of seven to nine billion people, demographic pressures mean that we are now challenged to bring order to the process so that migration takes place in a way that upholds dignity, well-bring and the fundamental human rights of human beings and of migrants,” he said.

“This challenge requires all of us to work collaboratively and compassionately. It requires us to apply the Golden Rule; to treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves. It is a challenge that IOM has been dedicated to since its inception – the steadfast dedication to humane and orderly migration benefiting all,” he added.

During the opening session of the Council, an application for IOM membership from the Kingdom of Tonga was approved. This brings the total number of IOM Members States to 166. Eighteen applications for Observer status were also approved.

The Council is the highest authority of the IOM and meets for one regular session annually. Its main functions include determining policy, reviewing reports, approving and directing the activities of the Executive Committee and the Director General, and reviewing and approving the programme, budget, expenditure and accounts of the Organization.

On IOM joining the UN, Thomson said: “I was honored in September to preside over the historic UN Summit on large movements of refugees and migrants, where the relationship was further strengthened through the signing of the UN-IOM agreement, which formally established IOM as a related organization of the UN.”

He emphasized that what needs to happen next is action. “Now we must move to implement the commitments we made under the New York Declaration. We are putting our shoulders to the wheel for an ambitious and comprehensive global compact on migration in 2018. But most critically of all we must achieve the 17 sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda, if we are to provide humanity as a whole with a sustainable future.”

The Council will also feature another keynote address by President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and three high level panels: Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration – from Process to Substance, whose distinguished panelists will include former president of Ireland and former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson, Opportunities for Policy Development to Address Climate Migration and Cross-Border Disaster Displacement, and The Grand Bargain on Humanitarian Financing.

The Council will also host the presentation of a McKinsey Global Institute report: People on the Move: Migration’s Impact on Individuals and Economies and a Migrants Voices session, featuring among others, Luis Salinas, producer of the film “The Golden Dream” (Mexico 2013).

The film will be screened as part of IOM’s Global Migration Film Festival at 18.30 on 6 December in the Auditorium Ivan Pictet, Maison de la Paix, Chemin Eugène-Rigot 2, Genève. The Global Migration Film Festival will take place 5 to 18 December with over 75 screenings all over the world.

You can view the President of the General Assembly’s keynote address here. Edited highlights will be shared throughout the four days via IOM’s YouTube Channel and social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat – search UN Migration).

For further information please contact IOM HQ. Azzouz Samri, Tel: +41 22 717 94 68, Email:  or Leonard Doyle, Tel: + 41 79 285 71 23, Email: