UN Migration Agency Welcomes UN Secretary General’s Report – Making Migration Work for All

UN Secretary-General António Guterres joined a UN and IOM relief distribution in eastern Dominica. File photo: IOM 2017


New York – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, welcomed Thursday (11/01) the release of the UN Secretary General’s report, Making Migration Work for All. The Report comes at a crucial time in the process to develop a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, and will serve as an important contribution to global discourse on international migration.

Making Migration Work for All provides a forward-looking analysis and vision, and a principled approach to thinking about contemporary challenges around migration, and how to address them,” said Michele Klein Solomon, IOM Director for the Global Compact for Migration.

Making Migration Work for All recognizes the need to address the factors that compel people to leave their homes in search of safer, better lives. Strong emphasis is rightly placed on whole of government and whole of society approaches at the local, national, regional and global levels, with genuine partnerships not only between governments but with employers, unions, civil society entities and migrants themselves, amongst others, to manage migration.  

The Report makes note of the fact that most of the world’s 258 million international migrants already move through safe, orderly and regular means, and that they bring significant benefits to their destination and origin countries.

The report notes, for example: migrants spend, on average, some 85 per cent of their earnings in their host countries, thereby not only addressing skills and labour shortages there, but also contributing directly to economic growth through consumption of goods and services locally.  Moreover, migrants remit homeward 15 per cent of their earnings – in 2017 some USD 600 billion, per World Bank estimates – to the benefit of their families and communities in sender countries which, for many, is a lifeline.  

Nonetheless, many countries today confront significant challenges surrounding migration governance.

With migration an expanding global reality, the Report brings a fresh coherence to the migration narrative. It challenges governments to put in place comprehensive national systems to manage migration, based on the rule of law.  It places rightful emphasis on the need to maximize the benefits that migration offers.

IOM particularly commends the Report’s commitment to the notion that migration should be a matter of choice, not necessity, as well as the importance it attaches to protecting the rights of all migrants. IOM shares the UN Secretary General’s concern about migrants in vulnerable situations, including those in large and mixed flows and those affected by the growing effects of environmental degradation and climate change. The emphasis of the Report on addressing irregular migration is also particularly welcome.

“The best way to end the stigma of illegality and abuse around migrants is, in fact, for governments to put in place more legal pathways for migration,” said UN SG Antonio Guterres. “This will remove incentives for individuals to break the rules, while better meeting the needs of markets for foreign labour.”

Echoing discussion during the consultations phase of the global compact process, the Report places a priority on ensuring adequate regular pathways for migrants to access labour market opportunities at all skills levels. These pathways should be based on labour market and demographic assessments in countries of destination, not only for today but for decades to come.

This is but one of the measures the Report proposes to reduce both the incidence and risks of irregular migration and informal employment of migrants.  Partnerships for skills development are one innovative proposal for addressing skills deficits in destination countries while benefiting countries of origin through training of their labour force.  Another would be cross-border ethical recruitment initiatives that are rightly identified as promising for reducing both the costs and risks to migrants. 

At the same time, Making Migration Work for All clearly recognizes that governments retain the authority to determine the conditions of entry and stay of migrants, consistent with international standards, and recognizes countries’ legitimate security concerns as well. The Report stresses that migration is not, per se, a threat and emphasizes the importance of ensuring cooperative approaches to human, state and public security, including on border management and returns. 

Importantly, the Report places the migration narrative in a positive light, putting people at its centre. Making Migration Work for All recognizes the positive contributions of migrants and migration to inclusive growth, sustainable development and reducing inequalities within and between states over the long term. 

IOM supports the call to Member States to put in place a follow-up and review mechanism for the compact to ensure continued yet flexible progress, and notes the Secretary General’s intention to look at how the UN, including IOM, can best organize itself to support Member State implementation of whatever commitments they make in the compact.

As the Report stresses, this needs to be consistent with his overall reform efforts as well as SDG follow-up and implementation. 

The UN Migration Agency looks forward to continuing to engage closely with all partners as the process to develop a global compact for migration progresses. IOM believes that the development of a global compact for migration presents an historic opportunity to improve the lives and dignity of migrants as well as the ability of governments to manage migration.

The full report can be accessed here.

For further information please contact, Joel Millman at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email: