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GCM Commentary: Objective 19: Create conditions for migrants and diasporas to fully contribute to sustainable development in all countries

last modified Jan 15, 2019 11:51 AM

Blog post written by Nicola Piper (University of Sydney), Udan Fernando (Centre for Poverty Analysis Colombo) and Sanushka Mudaliar (Human Rights Council of Australia) and forms part of a series of blog posts analysing the final draft (objective by objective) of the UN’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.


Objective 19 concerns the creation of conditions for migrants and members of diasporas “to fully contribute to sustainable development in all countries”. In order to achieve this objective, the intention is “to empower migrants and diasporas to catalyse their development contributions, and to harness the benefits of migration as a source of sustainable development”. This objective endorses the full and effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda by “fostering and facilitating the positive effects of migration for the realization of all Sustainable Development Goals” (action a). More specifically, Objective 19 points to the following priorities, emphasising the need:


1) to provide greater policy coherence and enhanced institutional capacities for migrant and diaspora contributions: this includes the integration of “migration into development planning and sectoral policies at local, national, regional and global levels” (action b) as well as institutional infrastructure, including dedicated diaspora offices or focal points, diaspora policy advisory boards and dedicated diaspora focal points in diplomatic or consular missions (action d);

2) to research the non-financial contributions of migrants and diasporas as to create a sound evidence-base for policy-making, i.e. to “invest in research on the impact of non-financial contributions of migrants and diasporas to sustainable development in countries of origin and destination, such as knowledge and skills transfer, social and civic engagement, and cultural exchange” (action c);

3) to expand government reach-out or liaison initiatives, such as “targeted support programmes and financial products that facilitate migrant and diaspora investments and entrepreneurship, including by providing administrative and legal support in business creation, granting seed capital-matching, establish diaspora bonds and diaspora development funds, and organize dedicated trade fairs” (action e); the provision of “easily accessible information and guidance, including through digital platforms” (action f); and building of “partnerships between local authorities, local communities, the private sector, diasporas, hometown associations and migrant organizations to promote knowledge and skills transfer between their countries of origin and countries of destination” (action j);

4) to enhance migrants’ political participation in, and engagement with, countries of origin, “including in peace and reconciliation processes, in elections and political reforms, such as by establishing voting registries for citizens abroad, and by parliamentary representation, in accordance with national legislation” (action g);

5) to promote migrants’ mobility via the facilitation of “flexible modalities to travel, work and invest with minimal administrative burdens, including by reviewing and revising visa, residency and citizenship regulations” (action h), as means to maintain the link between diasporas and their country of origin.


This is a very ambitious list of action points. There are a number of countries which have made considerable advances in addressing or fulfilling a number of the actions listed above – such as in the case of Mexico, India, Sri Lanka and China – but to our knowledge, there is not a single country which has achieved the full gamut of actions listed in all areas and regards. A key impediment constitutes institutional capacity, hence the reach-out to migrants and diasporas tends to be patchy and policies not consistent across countries of destination and groups of migrants. Also, there is the danger to focus on immigrants and the higher skilled to the detriment of temporary contract migrants who typically labour in the lower skilled, low wage sectors. We would, therefore, argue for an approach which transcends ‘diasporas’ in place of focusing on ‘return migration’, and thus, for policies to cater for all types of migrants in all migration corridors (South-North, South-South).


Full blog post here



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