IOM Sudan Chief of Mission Remarks on the Positive Impact of Becoming a UN Related Organization

Monday, October 3, 2016

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) approved a resolution and formal agreement signed at the last UNGA’s September 19 High Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants between UN Secretary  General Ban-Ki Moon and IOM Director General William Lacy Swing confirming IOM becoming a related agency of the United Nations System. This is an important milestone in the history of migration, as well as a turning point in the relationship between IOM and the United Nations. This is the first time Heads of States have come together to address migration and refugee issues.

The key question now is how IOM’s new status in the United Nations System will affect the Organization, migrants and our member states. The ultimate answer lies in how the IOM Administration manages the transition. In Council Resolution No. 1309 of 24 November 2015, we undertook a number of commitments related to maintaining the essential characteristics of the Organization which had been identified by the Member States. These essential characteristics include independence, flexibility, cost-effectiveness and responsiveness.

“With this new relationship, IOM will have a seat at the UN table; a voice in dialogue; an open door to key policymaking bodies such as the Chief Executives Board for Coordination and its High-level Committee on Programmes and High-level Committee on Management; access to information and funding; and a greater opportunity to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and to help migrants and Member States.”

IOM will have higher visibility in the United Nations system. We can look forward to closer cooperation with other agencies, and that may require revisions to some of our memorandums of understanding.

For IOM’s mission in Sudan, this new relationship will also have a notable positive impact on the lives of migrants in and outside the country through the greater influence in political discussions within the UN system as well as the organization’s full membership in global- and field-level coordination forums. This includes greater involvement and recognition within the UN system on international and regional policy discussions on migration.

Practically, the change will allow IOM to legally be part of the UN Country Teams (UNCTs). IOM has been party to UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF) and now IOM can participate in these and other coordination mechanisms (e.g. Interagency Standing Committee-IASC) as a full member, and not merely on an ad-hoc basis.

The ultimate decision to join the United Nations system was thus entirely strategic in nature – and its gestation period goes back many years, in fact even as far back as the inception of IOM in 1951. Over the decades, IOM always worked closely with the United Nations, subscribing to a large number of its policies and procedures (e.g. staff salaries and grading systems, security system, retirement plans and cluster systems).

With these changes in mind, daily operational work of IOM’s mission in Sudan will remain the same. In practice, we are already part of the United Nations System. We handle migration issues in United Nations country teams. There will be no change to the IOM name, constitution, flag or logo. As before, trust and respect must be earned and maintained on a daily basis – and can be lost in an instant. Being in the United Nations system changes none of this.

IOM as a related organization to the UN System allows us to retain operational flexibility and independence.  This is the model IOM member states ultimately agreed to and it’s a status similar to that of the World Trade Organization. Like other UN agencies, IOM was and will remain a public international organization. The change therefore should not have operational impact on its work and projects. IOM will retain its separate governance structure, projectized structure and field presence.  IOM Staff have been operating on the UN Joint Pension Fund for a number of years, and participate in the UNDSS – all of this will remain the same. 

For Arabic version click here

Interview with IOM Sudan Chief of Mission Mr. Mario Lito Malanca in October 1st 2016