Four opportunities to strengthen OCAM’s outreach

Four opportunities to strengthen OCAM’s outreach


On November 15, the 45th Ordinary Meeting of the Central American Commission of Migration Directors (OCAM) was held in Guatemala City. OCAM has joined the Central American Integration System (SICA), which was created in October 1990, in San José, Costa Rica, at the request of the Central American Presidents within the framework of the Central American Economic Action Plan (PAECA). PAECA brings the migration authorities of the region together, including Panama, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

In the meeting, key migration issues in the region were discussed. I was positively struck by the fact that such a broad spectrum of forms of migrations was covered. From irregular migration, trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, to the free movement of people, innovation and the creation of opportunities in places of expulsion and the voluntary return of migrants, among others.

In opening speech, Guatemala’s Vice President, Jafeth Cabrera Franco, underlined the challenge posed by the gangs in the region, as well as the need to continue working on implementing the Partnership Plan for Prosperity of the Northern Triangle Countries. In her closing remarks, Mrs. Gilda Patricia Marroquín de Morales, 1st Lady of Guatemala, highlighted the need to work in places of expulsion of migrants. The presence of such high authorities at the event reveals the importance of the migration issue for the Guatemalan Government.

I would like to highlight four of OCAM’s opportunities for regional and continental projection:

1. A Comprehensive Migration Policy in the region. At the regional level, I want to point out the approval of the Integral Regional Migration Policy, which will include guidelines on protection and assistance during migration crises. A topic that complements a base of guidelines that form a comprehensive vision and that will allow to manage migration at different levels. This could become the migration road map for the countries of the region. We hope that this Regional Migration Policy will be approved at the Summit of Presidents that is scheduled for the end of this year.

2. Mechanisms of interaction between the OCAM and the RIAM. A second achievement that will facilitate the construction of a continental migration agenda is the definition of interaction mechanisms between OCAM and the Ibero-American Network of Migration Authorities (RIAM). The Pro-Tempore Presidency was recently transferred from Panama to Peru, where the next encounter will be held in 2018. In its 5th edition, the RIAM has generated an interesting exchange of good practices. However, RIAM must advance in the area of identification and coordination of actions on specific issues. Topics of continental interest such as the smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and the humanitarian protection of migrants in emergency situations, to name a few. 

3. Participation in the construction of the Global Compact on Migration. OCAM has raised the need to appropriate and participate actively in the construction of the global agenda on migration through the Global Compact on Migration (GCM). Regarding the GCM, I would like to highlight the participation of the migration authorities of the national consultations in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. The results of these consultations will be sent to the ambassadors’, Luis Arbor’s office, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for the GCM.

Next year we will be facing the challenge of working with OCAM on the formulation of the documents and agreements that will give life to the GCM, which will be approved in September 2018 by the General Assembly of the UN. Without a doubt, the GCM is the most important tool for us to ensure adequate governance of migration, strengthened cooperation among countries and respect for the human rights of migrants, irrespective of their migratory status.

4. Global development through the SDGs. The Sustainable Development Goals or "the 2030 Agenda" are currently the most relevant tool for building a fairer and more inclusive society as well as for achieving prosperity while protecting the planet. Migration is a transversal theme in many of the 17 objectives, their targets and indicators. Goal 10 is particularly important: "Reduction of inequalities", with its Goal 10.7: " Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies " This goal includes indicator 10.7.2: "Number of countries that have implemented well-managed migration policies.”

In this sense, the SDGs offer the countries in the region and OCAM the opportunity to connect to development through a global perspective. This can only be achieved through an adequate follow-up of the 2030 Agenda, in which migration authorities of the region are called to gather and provide high quality data that will guide the creation of relevant policies and programs. Additionally, institutional systems and sub-systems that ensure adequate coordination at central and local level, including actors such as the civil society, academia and the private sector are crucial to ensuring success. For its part, IOM reinstates its commitment to continue providing support in these processes by providing tools such as the Migration Governance Index for example, that allow evaluating processes in favor of better migration governance.

This year’s OCAM meeting was a great success. There are many challenges and opportunities lying ahead, which only motivates us to continue our work to ensure that migration becomes the result of a voluntary decision, that the migration process can be regular and that migration becomes an active driver for development in the region.



   About the author:

Marcelo Pisani is the Regional Director of IOM for Central America, North America and the Caribbean. Mr. Pisani has 18 years of experience in project management, development of public policies, and in other areas related to fight poverty and the care of vulnerable populations in emergency situations. Previously he served as IOM's Chief of Mission in Colombia and Zimbabwe, and worked for the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). He is an architect of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. 



How will COVID-19 affect the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda?

How will COVID-19 affect the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda?
Categoria: Migration Governance
Autor: Laura Thompson


There is no doubt that the current pandemic has a broad humanitarian, social and economic impact in the short, medium and long term, which in turn may affect or delay the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at different levels and in various ways.

The most evident impact, obviously, is on Goal 3, which seeks to guarantee a healthy life and promote well-being. The pandemic has put enormous pressures on health systems not only in relation to the treatment and management of the virus, but also affecting the ability to care for patients who have other diseases and increasing the risk of complications in populations with compromised health states. The pandemic has given greater visibility to the importance of universal access to health systems regardless of people's migratory status. However, the pandemic will also have implications for other aspects of the 2030 Agenda.


Impacts beyond health

COVID-19 is also having a negative impact on the employment, economic and social situation of many households around the world, and on their ability to meet their needs, even the most basic ones. The economic crisis that the countries of the region are facing and the growing unemployment will be decisive in this regard, since apart from the pandemic, Latin America and the Caribbean reached an unemployment rate of 8.1% at the end of 2019, according to the International Labor Organization. And according to ECLAC projections, labor unemployment will rise to 11.5% in the same region, as a result of the contraction of economic activity by COVID-19.

Unemployment and the loss of purchasing power affect more severely migrant populations, since they are very often employed in the informal sector of the economy and have more precarious contractual working conditions, particularly women migrant workers. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, informal work engages around 50% of the total number of people employed. The increase in unemployment will impact the scope of Goal 8 (on full and productive employment and decent work for all), but also Goal 1 (the fight against poverty), Goal 2 (the eradication of hunger, food security and better nutrition), Goal 5 (gender equality and empowerment of women and girls), and targets 5.2, 8.7 and 16.2, on trafficking and exploitation of people. ECLAC also emphasizes that Latin America and the Caribbean is already suffering a fall of -5.3% in GDP, the worst in its history.

Likewise, this pandemic could accentuate existing inequalities in societies, as well as the vulnerabilities of certain population groups, and consequently delay the achievement of Goal 10, which seeks to reduce inequalities between and within countries. In this context, migrants are one of those vulnerable groups that have been particularly affected by the pandemic and that are often left behind or forgotten in social protection and economic relaunch plans, or have limited access to them, either because of language barriers or because of their immigration status. All of this despite the enormous contribution that migrant workers make to the operation of essential basic services in many countries, as has become evident during this crisis.

Additionally, a decrease in the amount of international remittances is projected, which, according to the World Bank, would be reduced between 10% and 19.3% by 2020. Remittances are a fundamental component in the economy of some countries in the region, where they can amount to between 5% and 20% of the national Gross Domestic Product. A significant reduction in remittances would jeopardize the ability of many households in those countries to meet their most basic needs and their ability to invest in improving nutrition, education, and reducing child labor, among others, further emphasizing existing inequalities.

Finally, at the state level, due to the economic slowdown we are experiencing and urgent health needs, it is very likely that there will be a decrease in social spending or a reorientation of available resources, potentially at the expense of the more comprehensive vision contained in the Sustainable Development Goals, again affecting the scope of the transversal objectives of the 2030 Agenda.


Recovery and SDGs: the same path

But this should not lead us to pessimism and to think that we have lost the fight to achieve the SDGs. On the contrary, it is essential at this time to work together and forcefully to identify the additional difficulties that the current pandemic presents in achieving the 2030 Agenda. We must redouble our commitment and our efforts to ensure that the impact of the pandemic is incorporated into national plans and international assistance, as well as that the different realities and vulnerabilities of some specific groups are incorporated.

For this we must work from now on to ensure the universal attention of the health and education systems; in reducing remittance transfer costs (a topic included in Goal 10), as El Salvador is already doing, creating more resilient and inclusive cities in line with Goal 11 or strengthening forms of regular migration for migrant workers and decent working conditions (Goal 8).

The time is now: all organizations, governments and individuals have an important role in ensuring that the efforts for our Latin American region and the world to recover from the serious effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are aligned with the 2030 Agenda and that we make sure we do not leave anyone behind.