The International Organization for Migration (IOM) was originally founded in 1951 to address the widespread displacement of people following the devastation of World War II. During the early years of the organization, it focused primarily on how to return people to their homes, assisting with every step of the process. However, as it grew, its scope expanded to work closely with governments to develop sustainable and humane policies on migration. However, the General Assembly in 2016 issued the New York Declaration, which not only brought the IOM formally into the UN System, but also started the process of developing the Global Compact for Migration, a landmark international treaty outlining the rights and responsibilities of states and migrants.
Topic A: Irregular Maritime Migration
Irregular migration refers to the movement of persons outside the accepted legal standards of exit, transit, and entry. It is a pressing issue of cross-border urgency that has grown increasingly prevalent as crises have driven new migration flows in West and North Africa, Central and North America, and Europe. The International Organization for Migration specifically defines ‘irregular migration’ as the ‘movement of persons that takes place outside the laws, regulations, or international agreements governing the entry into or exit from the State of origin, transit or destination.’ One of the most common and rapidly growing forms of Irregular Migration is known as Migrant Smuggling, which the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime refers to as the ‘procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident.’ Migrants frequently cross national borders to escape conflict, poverty, and natural disasters or for various other reasons beyond their control. In the absence of legal routes, migrants’ perilous journeys are classified as irregular and face no shortage of additional challenges, such as smuggling operations and legal consequences. Unfortunately, the search for better living conditions has resulted in the deaths of thousands, mostly along sea smuggling routes. In 2017, of the total migrant deaths reported, 3,597 (58%) were related to drowning or presumed drowning. The International Organization on Migration (IOM) recognizes the need for strong legal migration options, the protection of migrants, the prosecution of smugglers, and the need for durable solutions to the dangers and costs of irregular forms of maritime migration.
Topic B: Protecting the Rights and Safety of Migrant Laborers
Global migration is primarily driven by a search for economic advancement, employment, or flight from extreme poverty. In 2017, 59% of migrants migrated to seek better living conditions and opportunities. The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines migrant workers as ‘…all international migrants who are currently employed or unemployed and seeking employment in their present country of residence.’ Migrant workers who leave their country of origin in search of better living conditions are often subjected to inadequate social protections and violations of rights. They are often denied civil and political rights and have to face arbitrary detention, torture, or a lack of due process. They are frequently subjected to the denial of economic, social, and cultural rights, such as the right to education, health, or housing. According to global assessments, a considerable amount of migrant laborers end up falling victim to human trafficking, forced labor, and other threats in the workplace. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) builds capacity in labor migration management by offering policy advice to governments, supporting policy development, facilitating safe migration practices, facilitating the recruitment of workers, and helping migrants integrate into their new workplaces and communities. This topic should be discussed with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in mind, as it touches on decent working conditions for labor migrants and strives to reduce inequalities for marginalized groups. Protecting the rights of migrant laborers can also help ensure responsible consumption and production by promoting ethical working conditions.