Caribbean Migrations Consultations (CMC): a platform for Caribbean countries to discuss and coordinate on migration-related issues.
In January 2016, the Government of Belize, with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), hosted the Preparatory Meeting for a Caribbean Regional Consultative Process, which led to the establishment of the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC). The meeting gathered representatives from eight Caribbean Governments.
Delegates “underscored that coordinated policies were required at the regional level to ensure consistent approaches to common problems and that a regional dialogue on these issues was not only desirable but essential”, among these lines, the CMC will serve as a Caribbean tailored forum providing a platform for Caribbean countries to discuss and coordinate on migration-related issues.
The priority themes identified by delegations for further discussion within the framework of an RCP in 2016 were the following:
- Data collection, intelligence, security, and analysis on migration-related issues.
- Systematic Migration Policy Consultations.
- Best practices in the field of refugees and vulnerable migrants (such as victims of trafficking).
It was agreed during this gathering held in Belize that the first meeting of the Caribbean Migration Consultations would take place in Trinidad and Tobago during the second half of 2016. Along these lines, the First Technical Workshop of Caribbean Countries took place in Port-of-Spain in December 2016, from Monday 5th until Thursday 8th as a back to back event organized by the Ministry of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago - with the support of UNHCR and IOM.
During the opening event Ms. Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews, Chief Immigration Officer of the Ministry of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago emphasized that regional collaboration is important to develop common approaches and achieve results to the benefit of all in the Caribbean. And Robert Natiello, Coordinator for the Caribbean of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) explained that “by identifying shared interests of their members and enabling states to better understand each other’s perspectives, RCPs promote inter-state dialogue, information-sharing and collaborative migration approaches.”
The two days’ workshop hosted by IOM gathered the officials responsible for Border Management (director or sub-director levels) and was attended by thirty-one representatives, 16 from Caribbean countries, including representatives from Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Cuba. Also present were officials from the Netherlands and the USA, two of the four continental countries with territory among the islands, missing the UK and France. The participation of CARICOM IMPACS (Implementing Agency for Crime and Security), and the Regional Conference of Migrations were also welcomed.
During the workshop, the States highlighted the need to develop and/or improve Standard Operating Procedures, the importance of information sharing between the countries, and the necessity of spaces of communication such as the one provided by the CMC. IOM also presented several best practices on BM including the Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) which is a border management software program developed by IOM which allows States to collect, process and record information for the purpose of identification of travelers, data collection, and analysis.
Additionally the strategy for the creation of the CMC was shared at this First Technical Workshop of Caribbean Countries. This strategy aims to consolidate this process by creating thematic specialized working groups to address the main challenges and opportunities of migration in the Caribbean region. The working groups will interact as specialized networks to identify priorities, developing a work plan, sharing knowledge, exchanging experiences and discussing solutions to thematic migration challenges. By this workshop the two first networks of the strategy were launched; one focused on protection of refugees among the region (led by UNHCR), and the other one focused on Border Management (BM) to review current challenges, opportunities and possible ways forward (led by IOM).
IOM took the opportunity also to share the online platform developed that aims to invigorate the process and support interaction among participants. It was very well received and approved by country representatives to be used for these purposes.
As a next step, participants agreed on the importance of consolidating another Regional Technical Network on migrant smuggling, to exchange information on early warnings related to migration flows and to develop national and regional protocols on smuggling. This new Regional Technical Network, among other activities identified by the Caribbean countries such as the need to improve data collection on migration, will continue to cement the path towards the consolidation of the CMC.