National Consultation on Bangladesh’s migration policy priorities


Date Publish: 
Thursday, October 26, 2017

Dhaka– High-level government officials and civil society representatives from Bangladesh gathered in Dhaka today for a National Consultation on how to ensure the global debate on the future of migration governance reflects Bangladesh’s interests, in particular on respect towards migrant’s basic rights.Mr. Shahidul Haque, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh (GoB), talked about the need for the compact to be conceptualized as a ‘‘legal instrument comprising of laws, norms, mechanisms, provisions and practices aimed at assisting states and other stakeholders in governing migration, ensuring rights of migrants and for the benefit of all.”

Mr. Haque emphasized that migration should be safe, orderly, regular, as well as responsible. He mentioned that the compact is intended as an internationally negotiated framework, which should consider the normative framework in protecting the human rights of migrants. He summarized his statement by highlighting the need to include civil society in the development of the compact and that there should be a legally binding aspect to the compact.

H.E. Mr. René Holenstein, Ambassador of Switzerland, shared that migration is a complex process. “In order to be effective, we must make political choices about it. Our three priority choices are labour mobility, trafficking and migrants’ contribution to development – all of these issues can’t be discussed in isolation,” he said, adding that governance is key in achieving the process of migration and there must be a political will to implement the process.

During the National Consultation, participants were asked to contribute to by providing concrete recommendations to develop a national position on managing migration. Once the Bangladesh position has been set, it will be further communicated into the agenda setting process of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). The secretariat of the GCM is aiming to finalize the approach for the General Assembly in September 2018.

The development of the Global Compact on Migration is a Member States-led effort for governing migration, by paying attention to ways of protecting the safety, dignity and human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status. Given the complex and political nature of migration, this has traditionally been a challenging task.

However, the need to have a set of guiding principles on migration has been on the forefront of policymaker’s agenda for the past few years, in particular because of the European migration crisis. The European crisis has been a “perfect storm” of mixed human movement where asylum seekers, climate migrants and economic migrants have all come together trying to find safety, stability and a future in Europe.  While there are clear conventions guiding the rights of refugees, such rules do not yet apply to migrants, whether economic or climate induced, which leads to a fragmented approach where different states take very diverging approaches to migration management.

The National Consultation brought at the forefront the need to ensure fundamental rights of migrants through an equity based legislation and a transparent mechanism for managing migration. The representatives discussed that the compact could comprise of non-binding and binding elements.

All the key points emerging from the consultation with government and non-government stakeholders will be summarized into an outcome document titled ‘Bangladesh Perspective to the GCM’ to inform the regional GCM Consultation to be held at Bangkok in November 2017. The paper is expected to highlight key issues and actionable recommendations that should be instrumental in shaping the GCM.

The daylong consultation, held at the Bangabandhu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Dhaka, was led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and organized in collaboration with International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Migration Agency, and International Labour Organization (ILO) with the support from the Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation (SDC).

Secretary in charge for the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, GoB, Dr. Nomita Halder, NDC, Chair of the Parliamentarians Caucus on Migration and Development, Bangladesh, Mr. Md. Israfil Alam, MP, and Chief of Mission, IOM Bangladesh, Mr. Sarat Dash, among others, graced the occasion.

The national consultation brought together representatives from the government authorities including relevant ministries, departments and agencies, members of NGOs, CSOs, academics, researchers, UN Agencies, development partners, and private sector. The consultation was structured into five thematic sessions, mirroring the thematic priorities identified in the GCM modality.

The thematic sessions included: 1) Addressing drivers of migration, including adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters and human-made crises, through protection and assistance, sustainable development, poverty eradication, conflict prevention and resolution and Contributions of migrants and diasporas to all dimensions of sustainable development, including remittances and portability of earned benefits; 2) Smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, including appropriate identification, protection and assistance to migrants and trafficking victims; 3) Human rights of all migrants, social inclusion, cohesion and all forms of discrimination, including racism, xenophobia and intolerance; 4) Irregular migration and regular pathways; including decent work, labour mobility, recognition of skills and qualifications and other relevant; and 5) International cooperation and governance of migration in all its dimensions, including at borders, on transit, entry, return, readmission, integration and reintegration.

For more information, please contact Shirin Akhter in Dhaka, Tel: +8801711187499, Email: