IOM Member States endorse move to join United Nations System

Date Publish: 
Friday, July 1, 2016

JUNE 30 2016

GENEVA, Switzerland—Member states of the International Organisation for Migration, meeting at its Special Council in Geneva earlier today, unanimously  approved IOM’s entry into the United Nations system.  A resolution adopted unanimously by the IOM Council approves the IOM-UN relationship agreement paving the way for IOM’s entry into the United Nations system as a related organization. This decision, which was taken unanimously by IOM membership saw and overwhelming majority recognize IOM’s operational efficiency, flexibility and cost effectiveness.

IOM Director General William Swing will now communicate this decision to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who will in turn submit the agreement to the General Assembly (GA) for approval. Upon approval which is expected on 19 September 2016, it will be signed by the Director General and Secretary General and enter into force.

"Today has been a watershed moment in the life of this 65 year-old organisation," said IOM Director General William‎ Lacy Swing. "The member states have approved a motion by which we will join the United Nations system. We expect soon to have a seat at the UN table and a voice in the dialogue. As you know migration is a mega trend of our time and will be for the remainder of this century. We soon expect to be officially a member of the United Nations system. We expect to be able to deepen and broaden our partnerships. And we expect the UN will soon have a truly migration agency."

Also at the Special Council the People's Republic of China became a member of IOM, bringing to 165 the number of IOM member states. China’s membership comes as two more new member states—Tuvalu and Solomon Islands—join IOM, which this year is celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Organisation’s founding.

The IOM Special Council decision to join the UN system as a related organisation comes as more of the world’s people are on the move than ever before. IOM points out that one in every seven persons on the planet is a migrant, and 65 million of these are refugees and other forced migrants.

China is home to the world’s largest population of internal migrants and its people have for centuries been migrating abroad adding to the rich tapestry of the world’s migration story.

“We welcome China,Tuvalu and Solomon Islands membership of IOM at this crucial time,” said Director General William Lacy Swing

He added: “Migrants and refugees are increasingly the focus of global debate and their enormous contribution to the societies they join should be celebrated. China‘s experience in particular in managing migration has a lot to offer. “

Migration governance and the protection of refugees are principles deeply embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. Managed migration is a process of facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people through planned and well managed migration policies.

“The global significance and universality of IOM is greatly enhanced by China’s membership,” said IOM’s DG Swing, welcoming the decision.

The President of the UN General Assembly has convened a high level meeting on Refugees and Migrants on 19 September, at a time when global perceptions of migrants and refugees are under pressure and growing increasingly negative. This event will focus the world’s attention on the essential fact that the challenges faced by refugees and migrants are not problems to be solved but realities to be managed.

Many millions of migrants leave home to find employment, education or to otherwise improve their lives. They may be responding to labor and skill shortages that make their contribution essential for the wellbeing of those societies. Others migrants are forced to leave, however. Record-breaking numbers of refugees and migrants are moving across international borders, fleeing conflict, persecution, poverty, climate change, natural disasters and environmental degradation.

IOM, which assisted an estimated 20 million migrants and refugees last year, is an intergovernmental organisation with over 9,500 employees and 450 offices worldwide.

Watch LIVE: Director General William Lacy Swing reacts to the decision on IOM’s Facebook channel:

PHOTOS: From the IOM Council Special Session & Reception at the Palais des Nations

For further information please contact:
IOM Geneva: Leonard Doyle, Tel: + 41 79 285 7123, Email: or
Joel Millman, Tel: +41.22.717.9486 – Mobile: +, Email: