Regional Consultative Processes on Migration
Regional consultative processes on migration (RCPs) are state-led, ongoing, regional information-sharing and policy dialogues dedicated to discussing specific migration issue(s) in a cooperative manner among States from an agreed (usually geographical) region, and may either be officially associated with formal regional institutions, or be informal and non-binding. RCPs are Inter-State consultation mechanisms on migration (ISCMs) at the regional level.
RCPs are composed of member states; they can have also observer states and / or observer organizations. RCPs are usually chaired by a country (on rotation or permanent basis) and supported by Secretariats. Upon RCP Member States’ requests the Secretariat functions can be provided by an international or regional organization, e.g. IOM, International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), League of Arab States, etc.
RCPs can have Steering Committees, working groups, expert groups. RCPs hold regular meetings at the Expert, Senior Officials’ and Ministerial levels; they may also hold seminars, roundtables, trainings and workshops. These events are usually open only to the membership of the given RCP.
The majority of RCPs address a wide range of issues, such as protection of migrants’ rights, migration and development, labour migration, migration and health, counter migrant smuggling, counter human trafficking, etc. These diverse agendas reflect governments’ growing recognition that migration significantly affects other major public policy areas, and vice versa.
RCPs have acted as “laboratories” to pilot regional migration initiatives; they have enabled the collation of data on migration and built capacities of their participating states on various aspects of migration.
RCPs have contributed to shaping national migration policies and to the emergence of convergent policy approaches at the regional level by encouraging migration-related ministries and agencies to coordinate their activity and to develop plans, policies and practices on migration in a joined-up approach.
RCPs have increased the international community’s appreciation of migration issues and challenges. Thus, RCPs are specifically referred to in the 2015 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (paragraphs 54 and 55) and the Modalities Resolution of the Global compact for migration (and paragraph 23(b) as valid existing mechanisms to contribute to the preparatory process and negotiations towards the Global compact for migration and for facilitating migration in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The main achievements of RCPs include:
- Confidence Building
Through their role in identifying the shared interests of their members, allowing States to better understand each other’s perspectives and needs, RCPs serve to build confidence in inter-State dialogue, information sharing, cooperation and exploration of collaborative approaches on migration issues.
RCPs facilitate the development of practical networks among officials from different governments, and these networks create an environment conducive to bilateral and regional operational cooperation – such cooperation often takes place outside of, and is sustained independent of, the RCP process. RCPs also facilitate the development of networks among officials from different ministries of the same government who may not otherwise meet, and these networks lay the foundation for better cooperation, coordination and coherence on a national basis.
- Policy impact
While RCPs are usually non-binding and not intended to have a normative impact, there is evidence of the contribution of RCPs to migration policy. For example, as a result of their participation in RCPs, certain states have reviewed, created and/or amended migration-related legislation. In several cases, participation in RCPs has also led to regional coherence in migration policy.
IOM's Role in RCPs
IOM support to RCPs includes: technical expertise, policy guidance, research, capacity building and targeted project initiatives.
IOM is an observer to 6 RCPs. Pursuant to the participating governments’ requests, it serves as a technical secretariat to 5 RCPs and manages secretariat support projects for another 6 RCPs.
To foster exchanges and synergies among ISCMs (including RCPs) on various migration topics and contribute to improved policy coherence at the regional, interregional and global levels IOM has been facilitating Global RCP Meetings since 2005.
The International Partnerships Division (IPD) in IOM Headquarters coordinates IOM’s participation to all ISCMs (including RCPs) as a member, partner, observer or provider of technical expertise or secretariat support according to the participating governments requests, and coordinates the Global RCP Meetings.
Other international or regional organizations, such as International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), League of Arab States, European Commission, African Union Commission have been providing technical advice to individual RCPs upon their request.
RCPs by Region
African Union – Horn of Africa Initiative on Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling (AU HoAI)
Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Regional Consultative Process on Migration (IGAD-RCP)
Migration Dialogue from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Member States (MIDCOM)
Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA)
Migration Dialogue for West Africa (MIDWA)
Asia and Pacific
Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT Process)
Pacific Immigration Directors’ Conference (PIDC)
Regional Consultative Process on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labour for Countries of Origin in Asia (Colombo Process)
Regional Conference on Migration (RCM or Puebla Process)
South American Conference on Migration (SACM)
Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC)
Central American Commission of Migration Directors (OCAM)