Last week was the first International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), held at the United Nations in New York City.
Its purpose was to gather member States of the UN to review progress against the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) that was agreed to in 2018 as a mechanism for directing global cooperation on improvements to migration management.
We at HOST believe it is important to be involved in these events in order to ensure that the voices of migrants are reflected in international policy instruments, and that States are held accountable to structural disadvantages in the migration system.
Aims of the IMRF
The GCM has 23 broad objectives aimed at improving access to human rights and services for migrants globally. It acknowledges that migration is inevitable and has shared benefits for sending and receiving countries.
It also encourages collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders including NGOs, faith-based organisations, unions, media and the private sector.
Many of these stakeholders were represented in the IMRF last week in New York.
The work of HOST International is particularly relevant to the following objectives:
(5) Enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration
(7) Address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration
(10) Prevent, combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration
(12) Strengthen certainty and predictability in migration procedures for appropriate screening, assessment and referral
(13) Use migration detention only as a measure of last resort and work towards alternatives
(15) Provide access to basic services for migrants
(16) Empower migrants and societies to realise full inclusion and social cohesion
In particular, the CEO of HOST has been a member of the UN Network on Migration Working Group on Alternatives to Detention which was tasked with advancing objective 13.
Alternatives to Detention in Thailand - a HOST showcase
As part of this working group, HOST assisted in facilitating global online learning platforms over the last two years in order to share ATD strategies and to encourage States to adopt alternatives to detention in migration, especially for children.
Our work on practical ATD programs in Thailand has been specifically showcased, and it included direct participation of some refugee women in Bangkok who are part of the program.
HOST was also a stakeholder lead in the Asia Pacific Regional Review of the GCM in 2021, which was essentially a mini IMRF in the Asia Pacific Region.
This role was undertaken in conjunction with HOST's role as a member of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN).
It is also important to our work that we ensure that the experiences of migrants are accurately reflected in these global and regional forums.
Sometimes this is done through HOST representing those experiences and where possible we facilitate direct participation.
Unfortunately, there were very few opportunities for direct participation at the IMRF, but we have been working with migrant groups to change this at subsequent forums.
As a result of this work, HOST International obtained special accreditation to attend the IMRF in New York last week.
The event included a series of meetings between UN member States where progress reports were provided and pledges were encouraged.
Unfortunately, there was seemed to be little progress in making real change for migrant rights. This was especially the case for irregular or undocumented migrants which includes refugees and trafficked persons.
As part of our attendance, HOST prepared a public statement to the IMRF which outlines key areas that we feel still need attention.
HOST will use the connections and learning from this forum to continue to ensure that governments in the Asia Pacific Region continue to honour their commitments to the GCM.
We will also continue to provide opportunities for migrants to participate in future regional and global forums, and continue to engage with APRRN on these issues.