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/