Civil Society Days GFMD 2016

Civil Society Days GFMD 2016

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) 2016 was held in Bangladesh from 8 to 12 December.

Working closely with the Civil Society International Steering Committee (ISC), the GFMD Civil Society Coordinating Office of ICMC’s MADE has organized the Civil Society Days of the GFMD, and also the GFMD Common Space, together with Bangladesh, the government 2016 GFMD Chair. The Civil Society Days has taken place in Dhaka 8- 9 December, and Common Space on the 10th.



Read the Civil Society Report given by the 2016 Chair Colin Rajah, at the Government Days Opening Ceremony of the GFMD (English) and listen to its delivery during the Opening Ceremony of the Government Days of the GFMD (at 0:33:30).

Watch the Opening Ceremony and Closing Ceremony of the 2016 GFMD Civil Society Days. 

See also the Opening of Common Space of this year's GFMD, with 2015 civil society Chair for the GFMD Ignacio Packer making an intervention.

View the official Photo Album of the GFMD Civil Society Days and Common Space

See other important documents, including the 2016 programme, concept and working session Action Papers in the GFMD Documents section.


Civil Society Concept note

The timing of this GFMD is momentous. It takes place:

  • just three months after the UN General Assembly holds an extraordinary “High-level Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants” 19 September in New York
  • only months after the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is expected to formally join the UN system as a related agency—after 65 years outside the UN
  • with the completion of year 1 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs) and
  • as year 3 finishes of the ‘5-year 8-point plan, which civil society launched at the High Level Dialogue in 2013 for collaboration with governments in migration and development
  • little more than 9 months ahead of the next GFMD, anticipated for September in Berlin, with the subsequent GFMD already committed for 2018 in Morocco, followed by the third UN High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in 2019

Beginning with recommendations that civil society participants made at last year’s GFMD in Turkey, the Coordinating office and ISC gathered civil society priorities for discussion and action into a concept paper for civil society’s own GFMD programme this year.

Under the title: “Time for Action: Doing rights-based governance of migration and development in our communities and across borders” the GFMD Civil Society Days looked at how we actually implement people-centered, needs-first, rights-based policies in both migration and human development in work we do as civil society and together with governments, agencies and increasingly the private sector. Implementation was the focus this year: internationally and across borders, but also regionally, and locally, within our communities.

As in the past two years, this year’s Civil Society Days programme took forward the central issues of the ‘5-year 8-point Plan’, building directly on Maastricht University’s independent assessment of progress during the Plan’s first two years (the Movement Report)  and civil society’s outcomes in the GFMD 2015. These include issues of protection of forced and other migrants, including safe migration and children on the move; rights-based reform of recruitment practices and working conditions for migrants; making the new sustainable development goals work for migrants, refugees and other displaced people; and the rising role—and recognition—of migrant diaspora everywhere.

The 2016 GFMD Civil Society programme and preparations were structured around a mix of plenary debates, four tracks with a total of eight parallel working sessions, a set of special sessions and small regional and thematic tables for direct interaction with governments.  

Read the Concept Paper in English, French and Spanish.


GFMD Government Days

UPDATE: At the start of December, the government published its programme for the GFMD, and an overview of the government leads for the different government roundtables.


CSO input to the Concept Paper for the Governments’ GFMD programme

As in prior years, the government Chair of the GFMD (this year Bangladesh), invited civil society feedback as it drafted the concept paper for the governments’ GFMD programme.   In October and November, ICMC’s Civil Society Coordinating Office circulated and discussed that draft with 38 leaders and networks around the world active in the International Steering Committee of civil society for the GFMD. Feedback was then consolidated and submitted to the Chair as a civil society perspective on the “Elements of Concept Note”.  Working with the Chair’s second draft and additional ISC input, the Coordinating Office further emphasized civil society perspectives at meetings directly with the Chair and with governments and agencies in the Friends of the Forum beween January and March 2016. 

Government Concept Paper

At the end of March, the government GFMD Chair, Bangladesh, released its final revision of the Concept Paper, with the overall theme for this year’s government programme of the GFMD “Migration that Works for Sustainable Development of All: a transformative migration agenda”. As described, the aim is to take forward an “SDG Plus” approach, understanding migration as an integral component of human life, livelihood and development. The government concept paper specifically emphasizes multi-stakeholder partnerships, including with civil society but also with a new "interactive business mechanism" to get the private sector more involved in the GFMD. The government concept paper also proposes the organization of three thematic preparatory workshops throughout the year, in different locations around the world.

Civil society proposal to increase participation in the government days of the GFMD

Civil society space in the week of GFMD meetings has slowly increased since they began in 2007, first from one day to two days and now also in 4 hours of “common space” with all governments. What has not changed is that civil society is still not permitted to participate in government roundtables.

For each of the past three years, ICMC and the ISC have asked the governments to invite representatives of civil society to those roundtables.

Following the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Turkey last October 2015, about half of the civil society delegates participated in an assessment conducted by ICMC’s GFMD Civil Society Coordinating Office. One of the strongest recommendations was for more and better interaction between governments and civil society in GFMD meetings.

In February 2016, ICMC’s Coordinating Office and the ISC sent a letter to the current GFMD government chair, Bangladesh, asking for a meeting to discuss this proposal. It was signed and submitted by members of the ISC, later joined by  151 civil society organizations around the world.

ICMC’s Coordinating Office presented the letter and proposal to the Chair, and at his invitation, directly to the extended “Troika” of current, past and next government Chairs of the GFMD. There was further discussion in the “Steering Group” of governments most active in the GFMD. Unfortunately, a small number of governments indicated that they were not yet open to the proposal.