Promoting Regional Migration Partnerships
Madame Council Chair,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour To be invited to the 37th Plenary Session
of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of CIS Member States. And what
a joy to be back in the beautiful, historic city of St. Petersburg;
and I know, Madame Council Chair, of your role in maintaining its
It is a particular privilege to have this opportunity to greet,
once again, the distinguished Parliamentarians of the Commonwealth
of Independent States.
It is my good fortune to have had the opportunity to make
remarks at your 35th Plenary Session in 2010 in these historic
On that occasion, I also participated in the CIS International
Parliamentary Conference Dedicated to the OSCE Chairmanship of the
Republic of Kazakhstan. Today's conference, if my memory is
correct, falls on the 20th anniversary of the IPA CIS agreement in
1992 – so congratulations to you all.
Since my last visit, I have traveled to several of your
countries, including Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Tajikistan. In
recent months, my Deputy has visited Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and
other of my senior staff have traveled to all of your nine
The International Organization for Migration is proud to have
worked in the CIS region for more than 15 years. We are proud to be
your partner, and you can count on us for the long-term. During
these two decades, we have worked closely with the governments and
communities you represent to assist migrants, refugees, displaced
persons and others in need.
I will have the honor later today to sign a cooperation
agreement with the IPA CIS Council Chair, Her Excellency Valentina
Matvienko. This is eloquent testimony to the close cooperation and
warm relations we enjoy.
In addition to thanking you for your active engagement and
support, I have three main points that I would like to address in
my remarks today.
I. The Migration "Mega-trend"
My first point: migration is a significant long-term trend
– one of the "megatrends" of the 21st Century.
Neither the current global economic downturn nor increasingly
restrictive visa, security and border policies in many parts of the
world can halt, or even slow down, the greatest human mobility in
Demographic trends; labour market demands; and widening
North-South disparities constitute push-pull factors that make mass
migration inevitable. And this is a reality that is unlikely to
change for several decades.
To complicate matters, global phenomena such as climate change;
drastically declining birth-rates in the industrialized world, and
food, water and energy insecurity; and natural disasters –
all are coming together; coalescing like never before to push and
pull the world’s population in new directions. Instant
information, the communications revolution, and cheap flights add
to the acceleration of human movement within and across
Migration is extremely important in this region – a region
that is home to one of the world’s largest migration
corridors – that of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other
countries of the CIS. The issue that stands before us all is how to
manage migration in a manner that accomplishes three objectives:
(a) respects national sovereignty; (2) advances development; and
(3) upholds migrants’ legitimate aspirations, dignity and
How do we do this?
II. The Regional Approach
Part of the answer to that question, brings me to my next point
– that migration is a cross-border phenomenon; as such,
migration should be placed in a broader context of regional
cooperation and regional policy developments.
CIS countries deserve recognition and congratulations for their
concerted progress towards a single economic space through the
Customs Union of the three EurAsEc countries (Belarus, Kazakhstan,
Russia). It would be beneficial now to also establish a
complementary harmonization of migration legislation and policies
in order to create a single space for migration across the CIS.
Regional cooperation and partnership are fundamental to
realizing the full benefits of human mobility. This is why IOM is
presently supporting some 15 regional dialogues on migration
worldwide, all geared towards creating broader consensus on
migration management issues.
While each regional arrangement is unique, all share some
characteristics in common, for example:
- All of these regional groupings are state-owned;
- They share similar values and views on migration;
- They are informal arrangements, open, non-binding and
transparent consultation and cooperation; and
- Finally, the best performing regional consultative mechanisms
have had small, active secretariats – usually IOM –
that help to facilitate communication. The low-profile secretariats
do not drive the process; they assist it and ensure continuity
between formal sessions.
Here in the CIS, IOM is proud of its partnership with the CIS
and EurAsEc Councils of the Heads of Migration Agencies. This
partnership has proven to be an excellent vehicle for information
sharing and coordination and we wish to build further of this
III. The "Whole of Society" Approach
One of the many roles of partners is to think creatively
together about how their combined efforts can improve the lives of
those they are mandated to assist.
This brings me to my third point – the importance of our
work together pursuing a "whole-of-society" approach, which
involves the entire spectrum of civil society, including the
private sector, labour unions, advocacy groups, service providers,
migrants’ associations, academia and the media.
Many of our partners are here today and we thank you. We must
all do more together — and we must work in partnerships
within a regional framework as the best means to achieve even
greater synergies in our efforts.
In conclusion, let me summarize my points:
First, migration is here to stay. The question
confronting Governments is how to manage the migration process in a
legal, regulated and responsible manner — in the best
interests of countries, communities and people, including migrants
Second, migration is a cross-border phenomenon
and as such, we need to continue to promote balanced reforms that
facilitate regional trade in goods and services and the benefits of
associated human mobility. This is best pursued in partnerships
within a comprehensive regional framework.
Third, a "whole of society" approach builds
consensus among all interested parties to ensure that
migration remains a force for good.