Civic Space and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration

Incorporating Protection of Civic Freedom and Civic Space into the GCM


The first International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) represents a crucial opportunity to ensure that a rights-respecting interpretation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) is solidified into practice. Currently, there is a gap in the GCM relating to the protection and promotion of migrants’ rights and the rights of civil society organizations that provide voice, humanitarian or other services to migrants. Additionally, the GCM’s 23 objectives neglect to specifically address issues of migrants’ civic freedoms—particularly, their right to freedom of association, assembly, and expression. Likewise, the GCM contains no language encouraging the creation of a conducive environment for civil society cooperation, nor does it explain how human rights principles will be used during the IMRF periodic reviews to inform the evaluation of State progress.

This ICNL White Paper explains why the GCM’s failure to meaningfully include considerations of migrants’ civic freedoms and civic space is a critical omission that threatens the fulfillment of its objectives. The paper also explores how stakeholders can use the IMRF as an opening to incorporate considerations of migrant civic freedoms under GCM Objective 16 and ensure that States are evaluated on whether their implementation methods promote and protect migrant rights and civic space.