E.g., 09/24/2023
E.g., 09/24/2023
Towards a Global Compact for Migration: A Development Perspective

Towards a Global Compact for Migration: A Development Perspective

(Photo: United Nations)

The link between migration and development policies has become increasingly prominent in global policy debates. Migration is understood to be an important factor in propelling development, and policymakers have come to recognize development as an important force in shaping migration flows. Two major policy documents have articulated this relationship in authoritative ways: The United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), explicitly recognizes the potential of migration to promote development, as does the New York Declaration, in which UN Member States committed themselves to negotiate a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, adopted in December 2018.

The exact ways in which international cooperation will shape migration and development practice remain a subject of intense debate, however. For development policymakers, it seems clear that cooperation should focus on promoting the development potential of migration rather than reaching for development as a way of reducing migration. But governments, under pressure from concerned publics, are increasingly portraying development as a “cure” for migration. The global compact negotiations and discussions on the implementation of the SDGs presented opportunities to shift the policy debate toward a more informed and development-sensitive approach to international cooperation on migration.

A two-year collaboration between MPI and the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ), supported by the German Ministry for Development Cooperation (BMZ), sought to inform global compact deliberations and ongoing debates on SDG implementation. The core research questions included: (1) How should migration policies be designed to have development benefits? (2) How can development policies be adapted to better respond to and capitalize on the impact of migration flows? (3) What is the role of multilateral cooperation—specifically on the terms of the SDGs and the global compact—in achieving these goals?

A series of issue briefs explores core issues for the Global Compact for Migration, such as legal migration pathways, return migration and reintegration policies, skills partnerships, the impact of development interventions on migration, and international migration governance. The briefs are offered here:

The Global Compact for Migration: How Does Development Fit In?
This brief examines the evolving relationship between the migration and development policy areas, and considers what a global compact has to offer, if well designed.

Moving Beyond “Root Causes:” The Complicated Relationship between Development and Migration
Development assistance may be a blunt tool for reshaping migration patterns—and indeed one that could increase flows over the short term. Shifting the focus away from increasing individuals’ skills and assets toward investments in the broader economic or governance structures that are a prerequisite for growth and stability may offer more alternatives to emigration in the long run.

Welcome to Work? Legal Migration Pathways for Low-Skilled Workers
Although in many countries immigrants fill labor gaps in fields such as agriculture and construction, few legal migration pathways exist for low-skilled workers. As states meet to negotiate the Global Compact, this policy brief takes stock of the channels available for such workers to move legally and take up work abroad, highlighting promising practices and policy gaps.

Mind the Gap: Bringing Migration into Development Partnerships and Vice Versa
As policymakers look for ways to address the drivers of illegal immigration, many have called for migration aims to be incorporated into development work and development tools into migration partnerships. This policy brief analyzes the benefits and risks of heightened cooperation between actors in these fields, and identifies areas where joint initiatives may prove fruitful.

Reimagining Skilled Migration Partnerships to Support Development
While partnerships to facilitate skilled migration have had mixed success in the past, the Global Compact for Migration is advancing a new approach that may change this. This policy brief compares this new partnership model with the traditional one, highlighting the questions policymakers will need to answer if they are to encourage mobility, sustain employer engagement, and see development benefits in countries of origin.

Balancing Acts: Policy Frameworks for Migrant Return and Reintegration
In recent years, questions of whether, when, and how to return failed asylum seekers and other migrants to their origin countries have dominated migration debates in many countries. These issues were also taken up in the negotiation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. This policy brief outlines how states might more constructively work together on returns and reintegration programs.

Strengthening Refugee Protection in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Development actors are well positioned to help close the gap in refugee protection system capacity that exists between high-income countries and those that have fewer resources. With 85 percent of the world's refugees in low- or middle-income countries that lack the means to support them fully, strengthening protection systems would benefit from new thinking and tapping the expertise of well-placed actors to assure a more comprehensive approach.

Global Governance of International Migration 2.0: What Lies Ahead?
The vast majority of UN Member States in December 2018 adopted the first-ever international agreement to cooperate on migration. This policy brief traces the trajectory of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration's negotiation and endorsement. It also explores the factors that will determine whether the compact lives up to its aim of improving how states cooperate on international migration.  

Migration, Development, and Global Governance: From Crisis toward Consolidation
Migration and development policy discussions have edged closer to each other on the international stage. The adoption of the Global Compact for Migration in December 2018 marks an important milestone. As all eyes turn toward the compact’s implementation, this brief examines some of the key topics states have pledged to work more closely on—from labor migration and migrants’ rights, to returns and reintegration.