UN Migration Agency Supports COMESA to Host Regional Consultative Process for Member States

Capacity Building, Global Compact on Migration, International and Regional Cooperation

Lusaka – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat this week jointly organized the first Regional Consultative Process (RCP) meeting for COMESA Member States, Migration Dialogue COMESA (MIDCOM).

In an era of unprecedented human mobility, there is global recognition of the need for migration governance as reflected within the framework of the UN General Assembly and the proposed Global Compact on Migration.

COMESA recognizes the great importance of migration in the context of free trade, noting that for regional integration to be fully realized, citizens of its member states must be allowed to move freely to provide and enhance services, tourism, labour and cultural activities, among other aspects of the COMESA integration agenda.

The meeting – Enhancing Regional Cooperation and Mobility through Effective Governance Mechanisms, Data and Dialogue – represents an important step to join other regions with established RCPs in Africa, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA), the Migration Dialogue for West Africa (MIDWA) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which were established to provide a platform for dialogue on migration governance in a comprehensive and effective manner.

The MIDCOM dialogue serves to facilitate information exchange, cooperation among states and ultimately establish a regional and holistic approach for addressing migration. The MIDCOM also provides a forum for Member States to engage in non-binding dialogue.

Speaking at the same event, COMESA Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Dr. Kipyego Cheluget emphasized that there is urgent need to encourage more cooperation and less border controls to facilitate free movement of bona fide persons within the COMESA regions. He appealed to COMESA member states to ensure that the RCP is an annual event and called upon the member states to promote the speedy signature and ratification of the Free Movement Protocol. 

"Migration is part and parcel of  human development and COMESA will not achieve regional integration without free movement of people. We must therefore generate information to allay fears on migration and promote the positive contribution of migrants so that our people can appreciate that co-existing  in our countries is fundamental in what we want to achieve in terms of sustainable development," said Zambia’s Minister of Home Affair, Hon. Stephen Kampyongo (MP).

"IOM supports over 15 of such RCPs globally including all Regional Dialogues and RCPs in Africa, and COMESA will not be a exception," added Charles Kwenin, IOM’s Regional Director for Southern Africa. Kwenin further stated that IOM has provided support to 11 COMESA member states to develop Migration Profiles, which serve to provide a comprehensive overview of migratory dynamic and realities and can provide the necessary information to inform evidence based policing. 

The MIDCOM meeting in July 2017 was preceded by the 10th Meeting of the COMESA Chief of Immigration Officers. During the latter meeting, progress was made towards ratification of COMESA’s Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Labour, Services, Right of Establishment and Residence (otherwise known as the Free Movement Protocol).

During this event, a flagship training and awareness-raising programme was held for COMESA member states. It was funded by the IOM Development Fund, for the Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The launch of the training, held on 27 July, included provision of awareness-raising materials on COMESA Protocol, and training tools on Free Movement of Persons in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

For more information, please contact IOM Zambia. Bertha Kalyocha Nguvulu, Tel: +260 211 254 055, Mobile: +260 975 766 486; Email: bnguvulu@iom.int