The role of data in the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration
On December 10th 2018, 164 countries signed the first ever internationally negotiated agreement on migration. It is now time to look at the question of its effective implementation. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is framed consistent with target 10.7 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which goal is to “facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and well managed migration policies”.
The Global Compact’s scope is defined in Annex II of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants which requests from States to ensure that migration data are: “Disaggregated by sex and age and include information on regular and irregular flows, the economic impacts of migration and refugee movements, human trafficking, needs of refugees, migrants and host communities and other issues.“
The Global Compact reflects the fact that migration is a complex, cross-disciplinary and multi-layered issue. In order to reach the goals of the Global Compact, a planned approach to migration including a comprehensive and practical perception of migration governance and developing well-defined, quantifiable indicators to gauge the effectivity of a migration policy is needed. For an effective migration governance, a State should gather, examine and use reliable data and information on cross-border movements, internal displacement and labour needs, for example. Based on this set of data, the State should develop migration policies taking into account the links between migration and other issues such as climate change or the national and regional security context.
The starting point is to have a common understanding of the notions of migration governance and migration policy as they are central to the implementation of the Global Compact. IOM gives the following definition of governance:
“The combined frameworks of legal norms, laws and regulations, policies and traditions as well as organizational structures (sub-national, national, regional and international) and the relevant processes that shape and regulate States’ approaches with regard to migration in all its forms, addressing rights and responsibilities and promoting international cooperation.”
Linked to migration governance is migration policy, which can be defined as “a government’s statements of what it intends to do or not do (including laws, regulations, decisions or orders) in regards to the selection, admission, settlement and deportation of foreign citizens residing in the country”. In 2015, IOM developed a Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF) to help outline what “well-managed migration policy” might look like at the national level and defines migration policy more concisely as the law and policy affecting the movement of people. The Migration Governance Indicators (MGI) were established to embody the MiGOF. The MGI is built on the six dimensions of good migration namely: migrants’ rights; whole of government approach; partnerships; well-being of migrants; mobility dimensions of crises and; safe, orderly and dignified migration.
One of the main issues today is the clear lack of data related to migration, which can be an obstacle to the effective implementation of the Global Compact. There is still insufficient data about the flows of migrants, migrants' wellbeing or the reasons for migration, as well as the impact of migration policies and programmes and the impact of migration itself on countries. There is also a clear need for States to enhance their ability to produce appropriate, consistent, and comparable data on migration to support policy makers in developing evidence-based policies.
Accordingly, the United Nations in 2016 underlined the importance to progress data collection on migration in the report "In Safety and Dignity: Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants". According to Bjerre et al. few migration policy indices already exist and more are under development. For example, Determinants of International Migration (DEMIG) Policy looks at over 6,500 migration policy developments that took place in 45 countries between 1945 and 2013 and the World Population Policies Database (UN DESA) provides information on the views and policy priorities of 196 countries.
The MGI improves the dialog on migration policy data because it contrasts with the currently used databases in many aspects. Unlike the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), for example, which analysis only policies related to immigration integration, the MGI looks at migration policies in general. Moreover, it comprises data that is pertinent for sending and receiving countries whereas in current databases the information is usually one sided.
Additionally, the MGI takes into account the level of administrative capacity of each country when analysing their migration governance levels and existing migration policies. The MGI is an enabling tool that provides decision-makers with practical ideas and insights to help them designing and implementing efficient and wide-ranging migration policies. By doing so, the MGI will also support the data gathering required by target 10.7 of the SDGs and offer a basis for the monitoring of their efforts towards the implementation of the Global Compact on Migration.
Further research taking a holistic approach of migration is needed and more efforts should be put towards gathering relevant data for them to be easily used by policy makers to ease evidence-based decisions making and strategic planning.
Author: Dr. Fanny Tittel-Mosser