Last month, the International Organisation for Migration published its latest set of statistics. Their Missing Migrants Project (MMP) reported that 6,142 deaths and disappearances were recorded during migration globally last year, the third consecutive year that more than 6,000 fatalities were recorded by the project. IOM’s Director General, William Lacy Swing, has stressed that “not all deaths and disappearances during migration are reported – in many remote regions of the world, bodies may never be found, and many migrants may never be identified.”
In the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, adopted in September 2016, the General Assembly initiated the development of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in an urgent attempt to reduce these numbers. The UN describes the global compact as "a significant opportunity to improve the governance on migration, to address the challenges associated with today’s migration, and to strengthen the contribution of migrants and migration to sustainable development."
The Open University has fed into the development of this global compact, led by OU academic, Dr Tendayi Bloom, Lecturer in Politics & International Studies. Along with Tendayi, a team of academic specialists from The Open University, including Professor Parvati Raghuram and Dr Avi Boukli, attended a number of thematic sessions.
In July of last year, Professor Parvati Raghuram and Dr Tendayi Bloom attended the fourth of the thematic sessions at the UN Headquarters in New York. Professor Raghuram spoke on the importance of student migration (1:20:54); Dr Bloom on the importance of considering the needs of stateless persons and the risk of statelessness in the context of migration (2:41:00).
In September, Dr Avi Boukli and Dr Tendayi Bloom, then participated in the thematic meetings relating to smuggling and trafficking of persons at the UN in Vienna. They gave a spoken intervention on behalf of The Open University, based on research into private sector migration management. This session was titled 'Smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, including appropriate identification, protection and assistance to migrants and trafficking victims’ and was the fifth of six thematic sessions that will form part of the process towards the creation of the first ever global compact on migration.
The session focused on processes of identification of trafficking victims, on tackling contemporary forms of smuggling and slavery, and on building comprehensive responses to trafficking and smuggling.
The migration compact is scheduled to be launched later this year. To find out more about the global compact, Frank Laczko, the director of the IOM's Global Migration Data Analysis Centre in Berlin, explains why and how it came about.