Global Issues: Austria & Czech Republic/Case Reports/ICMPD

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Overview[edit]

The International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) is located in Austria's capitol city of Vienna. ICMPD was founded in 1993, upon the initiative of Austria and Switzerland. ICMPD's mission statement is rooted in making our increasingly interdenpendt world more navigable in terms of the flow of individulas across the globe's many borders. Thus, the ICMPD strives to improve and facilitate regional and international co-operation in the field of migration policy and migration management. Acting as somewhat of a facilitator amongst its member states the ICMPD seeks to create contact and dialogue among countries of origin, transit and destination and to support ICMPD Member States in achieving their priorities and migration policy goals. The following states are members of the organisation: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland. In addition to facilitating dialagoue amongst member states ICMPD is dedicated to promoting innovative, comprehensive and sustainable migration policies and to function as a service exchange mechanism for governments and organizations. Migrations challenges in today's world are significant and to better approach this challenge ICMPD adheres to a philosophy based upon the conviction that the complexities of migration challenges can only be met by working in partnership with governments, research institutes, international organizations and civil society and its organizations. The organization was created to serve as a support mechanism for informal consultations, and to provide expertise and efficient services in the newly emerging landscape of multilateral co-operation on migration and asylum issues. ICMPD today is an international organization with sixty staff members at its Vienna Headquarters, a mission in Brussels and regional offices and representatives throughout Europe, CIS, Northern Africa and the Middle East. In addition to its internationl promenince the ICMPD holds UN observer status.

History/Timeline[edit]

Faced with the growing challenges of migration, an asylum crisis and the need to reform the European refugee reception system a small circle of European government representatives, gathered at the initiative of Switzerland, in the autumn of 1992 to launch the ICMPD. Moreover, migration from and through the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe was on the rise in addition to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina led to mass displacement, requiring international burden-sharing and thus the birth of ICMPD. At the global level, it was recognized that growing Global North- Gloabl South migration pressure will be a major issue on the political agenda for the next millennium.

Prior to the ICMPD the typical form of dealing with migration in a European context was through an ad hoc approach by the Council of Europe, OECD, ICEM/IOM and UNHCR. Informal consultations (now IGC) were created by Sweden and some like-minded countries in 1985. It worked together with the UNHCR to tackle the emerging asylum crisis. An EC/EU co-operation on immigration and asylum was initiated in 1986 in response to the new internal market system and establishment of external EU borders. The EFTA (European Free Trade Association) countries also initiated a move to make immigration co-operation level with that of the EC. Radical changes in Central and Eastern Europe gave birth in 1991 to the Vienna process (incorporated by the Council of Europe in 1994) and the Berlin process, which later became the Budapest Process. Existing institutions, such as those mentioned above, worked to upgrade migration-related activities.

The founding countries of ICMPD felt a support mechanism was needed to provide a platform for informal consultations and efficient services in this newly emerging landscape of multilateral immigration and asylum co-operation. They also wanted to ensure that co-operation with Central and Eastern Europe be given a prominent role, taking into account the need to incorporate the new democracies into the European migration regime and to act against the risk of growing illegal migration. In light of this, it was clear at the Budapest Ministerial Conference in 1993 that ICMPD would become Secretariat to the Budapest process.

Local Significance[edit]

In May 1993 the basic agreement on the establishment of ICMPD entered into force, the initial signatories was in Vienna between Austria and Switzerland. The following July the first Steering Group meeting took place. Under an arrangement with Sweden the late Jonas Widgren was appointed director in August 1993. A presentation letter to all the responsible ministers of 24 governments, signed by the Swiss Minister of Justice and the Austrian Federal Minister of Interior, was dispatched in September 1993. ICMPD's head office, originally at Möllwaldplatz in Vienna's fourth district, was officially opened in November 1993.

Global Impact/Significance[edit]

ICMPD’s work centers around three core pillars: Intergovernmental dialogues: with the aim to foster governmental discussion and enhance inter-state dialogue in the current debate on international migration, ICMPD acts as Secretariat to the consultative Budapest Process (50 European and Eurasian states), and to the Dialogue on Mediterranean Transit Migration, which brings together European as well as Mediterranean Arab states.

Capacity building: with the aim to contribute to good migration governance and to strengthen national and regional capacities in order to deal with the current challenges in various fields of migration, ICMPD develops and organizes training and capacity building programs, facilitates international and interagency co-operation, and supports governmental and administrative bodies in their institution building efforts and legal reform in areas such as asylum, visa, human trafficking and integrated border management.

Research and documentation: with the aim to facilitate co-operation and synergy within and beyond the research community and to respond to an increased demand for a more policy relevant research, ICMPD conducts policy oriented, empirical research with a comparative, interdisciplinary and international approach. The ICMPD library offers one of the largest collections of migration-specific literature in Austria.

Together with profound understanding of our partners' working environment ICMPD provides cutting-edge expertise, sound and policy-oriented research, proficiency in establishing information exchange mechanisms, strong programs development and implementation skills and wide-ranging international networking capacities.