9 keys for effective Migration Governance in the Caribbean

Migratory Governance - Caribbean states


The Caribbean has witnessed numerous waves of migration throughout history. Region wide economic stagnation; limited job opportunities; natural disasters such as floods, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and earthquakes; have been important push and pull factors in the Caribbean, able to cause large and unforeseen migration flows.

Even though governments and international organizations such as the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), have contributed to the promotion of regular and safe migration, the needs for capacity-building, knowledge -sharing and data collection on migration ̶  just to name just a few ̶   remain a challenge. The region shares several common migration issues, therefore, the success in overcoming these problems will depend on government’s consistency in working in collaboration to improve such challenges in the Caribbean region.

To assist in this endeavor and with the clear purpose of empowering governments as well as their existing migration governance capacities and policies, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), under the PACTA project and funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration; developed the Regional Report on Migration Governance in the Island States of the Commonwealth Caribbean. A report that presents a background of ten countries of the region, through concrete evidence and data, combined with the inputs of regional stakeholders to provide a larger perspective on opportunities for improvement in regional governance and cooperation. Furthermore, it offers actionable recommendations on how to best minimize the potential risks of migration, while maximizing its economic and development benefits.

The study revealed that in order to implement effective migration governance practices in these ten countries of the region, governments need to:

  1. Collect data on the growing trends of intraregional migration, as well as data on migrant populations, both regular and irregular.
  2. Implement a comprehensive migration approach, aligned with international standards and national development strategies.
  3. Strengthen coastal surveillance to manage irregular migration appropriately, improving application of strategies in the areas of border management, national security and the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations.
  4. Collect data on the impact of mobility regimes and programs to obtain citizenship through investment schemes. 
  5. Enhance collective action on disaster management and development of more comprehensive mechanisms to mitigate and manage the consequences of environmental hazards.
  6. Strengthen legislation and protocols related to the fight against trafficking and improving the capacity to generate effective responses, as none of the ten countries has yet ratified all the nine-core international human rights treaties. Countries would benefit from adjusting their legislation to consistently reflect the core principles of international instruments, and from strengthening regional coordination efforts, including the standardization of protocols and practices to address various migration-related issues.  
  7. Adopt mechanisms to guarantee migrants' access to medical care and improvement of detection protocols in Border Crossing Points (BCPs).
  8. Collect data on circular migration (repetitive and temporal migration between two places) and labour mobility, as well as the effect of migration on labour supply and demand.
  9. Review of legislation to guarantee universal access to education for migrant children of compulsory school age.

In the process of addressing these gaps, it is important that governments, not only make efforts to improve governance systems for migration, but also that the international community recognizes the complexities of the subregion and understands the need to adapt the guidelines and frameworks to the realities of each of these States. The IOM looks forward to working with the Caribbean region to address capacity limitations and realize the potential highlighted in this report.

The Regional Report on Migration Governance in the Island States of the Commonwealth Caribbean is now published in the Caribbean Migration portal of the CMC in the following link: http://cpmg.iom.int/migration-data-and-analysis 

For further information please contact Brendan Tarnay, CMC Project Coordinator: btarnay@iom.int / Estela Aragón, Research Coordinator: earagon@iom.int


Sofía Cortes is the Digital Content Manager for the Caribbean Migration Consultations initiative. She has more than 5 years of experience in the areas of communication and marketing. Previously she has worked for advertising agencies such as Havas Tribu and for United Nations organizations such as University for Peace, as Communications Officer. She is a public relations graduate of the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica and candidate for a Master's Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing from the Latin American University of Science and Technology.

Multilateral cooperation, a key for migration governance

Categoria: Migration Governance
Autor: Guest Contributor

Migratory movements in Central and North America have been determined by diverse political, economic, environmental, social and cultural factors. Due to their complexity, migration processes at national and regional levels reveal a great number of challenges, so cooperation and dialogue between countries and agencies is essential to address them properly.

Inter-state consultation mechanisms on migration (ISCM) are forums run by States in which information is exchanged and policy dialogues are held for States interested in promoting cooperation in the field of migration. These mechanisms can be regional (regional consultative processes on migration or RPCs), interregional (interregional forums on migration or IRFs) or global (global processes on migration).

There are 15 Regional Consultative Processes on migration active in the world, but few as consolidated and with as much experience as the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), created in 1996.

The RCM is a regional consultative process on migration to exchange experiences and good practices in ​​migration at a technical-political level. The coordination of policies and actions is carried out by its eleven member states: Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

Created at the first Tuxtla Summit, the RCM is governed by the following objectives:

• Promote the exchange of information, experiences and best practices.

• Encourage cooperation and regional efforts in migration matters.

• Strengthen the integrity of immigration laws, borders and security.

This poses a great challenge, since it involves the balance of security issues at each country’s level as well as at a regional level, the search for national prosperity and economic improvement, and the rights of migrants in accordance with international agreements and conventions.

 "The issue of migration has many challenges, and among them is public opinion. Sometimes the issue of immigration is not so popular, if it is not addressed in an appropriate manner. There is a lot of misinformation about migration issues, and countries’ efforts are not always recognized," said Luis Alonso Serrano, coordinator of RCM’s Technical Secretariat.

The RCM works with three different liaison networks: the fight against trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, consular protection, and the protection of migrant children and adolescents. This year, the RCM is going through a re-launch process, led by Guatemala as Presidency Pro-Tempore, to innovate and be at the forefront in meeting regional objectives. The RCM is a dynamic process and evolution is one of its main characteristics.

Among its achievements is the establishment of different assistance projects for the return of vulnerable migrants, training workshops and seminars on migration issues, and technical and institutional assistance to the migration authorities of RCM’s member states.

The RCM has also published a comparative analysis of the legislation of Member States on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, which is periodically updated, as well as a series of guidelines and manuals for migration governance.

However, of all its achievements, the most important achievement of the RCM is teamwork: the commitment of continuous dialogue between countries characterized by different economic, socio-cultural and migratory realities. This regional consultation process provides a space for equal representation and participation to government delegates, facilitating the identification of matters of common interest, as well as needs, objectives and areas of action.

The efforts of the RCM are complemented by the work of other regional entities interested in migration governance, such as the Central American Integration System (SICA). Currently, SICA and IOM are developing a study on the causes and consequences of migration in the region, to develop a regional action plan to address the phenomenon.

As Serrano explains: "The immigration issue does not belong to a single country on its own. Through the exchange of experiences and good practices, a dialogue between peers is created to share challenges. You not only learn from the good, but also from the opportunities for improvement, in order to strengthen migration governance and ultimately reach the target population: the migrant population, whom we owe our work to. "

For more information about the RCM and access to documents and publications, visit: http://portal.crmsv.org/