IMRF 2022: Global Civil Society Priorities

12 Key Ways for States to Get Back on Track

Published: November 2021

In May 2022 the first International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) will take place. This is of crucial importance as a starting point in addressing and reviewing how States and societies respond to international migration as it examines implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).

The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated many of the challenges that the GCM was designed to address, often exacerbating the institutionalized and persistent vulnerabilities faced by migrants and communities. At the same time, we are witnessing developments across the world that go against the spirit as well as the letter of the GCM. This is why global civil society urgently calls upon governments and stakeholders to accelerate the implementation of the GCM under its guiding principles, and to communicate and cooperate openly in this coming IMRF.

This report looks at current problems facing migrants and explores twelve key ways for states to get back on track. Please find the full report from The Civil Society Action Committee here.

12 Key Ways for States to Get Back on Track

1. Pandemic Recover

Permanently and universally incorporate changes temporarily introduced by some States’ good practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic through national emergency measures. These would also uphold the spirit of the guiding principles and objectives of the GCM by addressing the institutionalized and persistent vulnerabilities faced by migrants, which were exacerbated during the pandemic.

2. Climate Change

Address growing climate change impacts as adverse drivers of migration and sources of vulnerability of migrants; improve support, protection and assistance to people migrating in the context of climate change, and create new, flexible and rights-respecting regular pathways adequate to the magnitude of current and future climate change and environmental impacts, along lines agreed in the GCM. Such initiatives should plan for the long-term impacts of climate change, not just respond to the acute crises.

3. Race, Xenophobia, Gender, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Rights violations based on race, xenophobia, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity, are deeply rooted in migration policies and practices, and are often profoundly interrelated. All of these should be thoroughly addressed in an intersectional manner with urgency, in order to effectively implement GCM objectives.

4. Migrant Workers’ Rights

As demonstrated dramatically both in the pandemic and in the massive labor shortages that are suddenly stalling economies and development worldwide, migrants are essential not only in the labor and services they provide to the communities and countries where they work, but also in the earnings and (social and financial) remittances they return to their families and communities, both in the countries where they are living as well as in their countries of origin. Migrant workers are (and always have been) essential workers, at all skill and wage levels, and States and societies owe them GCM implementation should promote and protect migrant workers’ rights.

5. Regular Pathways and Regularization

Rights-respecting regular pathways are a keystone for solutions that reinforce safe, orderly and regular migration, protection of all migrants, and the rebuilding of employment and economies. Too many migrants today remain limited in their options to migrate safely through the constraints associated with their training, skill level, and the sector(s) in which they seek or are offered employment, or discrimination related to their national origin, race or gender. States should therefore commit to broaden the availability of regular pathways across a wider spectrum of sectors, and with more flexible options to remain, leave and return, to be joined by family members, and to be able to use migration to respond to their real-life situations, dangers, and hopes.

6. Protection at Borders

We express concern that some States have used “safe, orderly and regular migration” as a justification for exclusionary, restrictive and security-centered migration policies at border regions, going against the spirit of the GCM. We call for the demilitarization of border enforcement against migrants, halting and reversing border externalization, and the decriminalization of migration.

7. Detention

Take concrete steps to work towards ending immigration detention.

8. Deportation / Return

Ensure due process rights and the principle of non-refoulement, including cases where climate change impacts in country of origin would present a risk of irreparable harm, and giving due consideration to family ties, including the rights of the child. Greater regulation, independent monitoring, and scrutiny are essential to protect the rights and safety of returnees.

9. Children in Migration

To achieve explicit SDG objectives and GCM commitments.

10. Access to Services

Adopt practical strategies and measures, including effective firewalls, to enable migrants, regardless of status and in situations where they lace official identity documents, to access public health services, education, labor rights protection mechanisms and justice, without fear of deportation, assuring that they will not be charged for public health services like those adopted for identification, treatment and control of the COVID-10 virus, or arrested whilst accessing public institutions (SDG 16, and GCM objectives 7 and 15). In addition, ensure the accessibility to services for children, including for early childhood education (ref. GCM objective 9.d).

11. Migrants Agency and Voice

Migrant communities’ ability to organize and to speak for their own interests is crucial to achieving meaningful advancement in migrant rights and is thus a pre-condition to the fulfilment of all GCM objectives. States should pro-actively center migrant voices and support migrant communities in exercising their individual and collective agency through their rights to free association, assembly, expression, and access to information.

12. Civil Society Engagement

Although the GCM dictates that it is to be implemented in cooperation and partnership with civil society as well as other stakeholders, the rights of civil society groups who work with or assist migrants (migrant-allied CSOs and trade unions) are increasingly under threat. Migrant-allied CSOs and human rights defenders have been criminalized for their humanitarian work or face onerous administrative or financial burdens in our operations. These obstacles complicate our ability to carry out our works, which is crucial to the accomplishment of GCM objectives.