Geneva – The 108th IOM Council kicked off yesterday (27/11) at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland. Some 596 delegates representing IOM Member States and Observers, as well as new applicants for membership and observership, UN representatives, academia, private sector, migrants and civil society are attending the event.
Yesterday’s Council highlights included the IOM Director General’s report, the keynote presentation by Miroslav Lajčák, the President of the 72nd General Assembly on the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) and a statement from Louise Arbour, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for International Migration (SRSG).
In his report, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing referred to IOM’s response to the many challenges faced by migrants and internally displaced people today. “Since our last Council meeting a year ago, there has been a series of global developments that have accounted for the use of much of our time and energy and your resources,” said DG Swing. “We now have eight level-three humanitarian emergencies - the highest emergency level of the UN, including IOM’s role in the Rohingya crisis, the cholera outbreak in Yemen and nine armed conflicts from West Africa to the Himalayas,” he added.
Speaking of IOM’s new role as the UN Migration Agency, DG Swing highlighted the renewed interest of the media and the public in the Organization’s work, with journalists citing IOM more than ever before. “We have a seat at the table, a voice in the dialogue, and access to information and funding which we did not have before,” said DG Swing.
During her address, SRSG Arbour stressed that the GCM, which will be negotiated next year, is not the end point, but a living document, forward looking, flexible and adaptable that will be judged on its ability to deliver results.
Today (29/11), panellists are discussing, among other topics, collaboration through innovative partnerships on promoting migrant integration and social cohesion. This panel will be moderated by IOM Deputy Director General Laura Thompson, and will include a presentation from Canadian journalist and author, Doug Saunders, writer of Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World.
As part of the closing activities on Friday, the Migrants’ Voices session will feature testimonies from migrants who have returned to their countries of origin with assistance from IOM. Fabiola from Brazil and Augustine from Nigeria will speak about their experiences and share their success stories.
The Council is the highest authority of IOM, the UN Migration Agency which meets in regular session once a year and in special sessions at the request of one third of its members, the Director General or the Chairman of the Council in urgent circumstances.
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