The International Organization for Migration (IOM) was originally founded in 1951 to address the widespread displacement of people following the devastation of World War II. During the early years of the organization, it focused primarily on how to return people to their homes, assisting with every step of the process. However, as it grew, its scope expanded to work closely with governments to develop sustainable and humane policies on migration. However, the General Assembly in 2016 issued the New York Declaration, which not only brought the IOM formally into the UN System, but also started the process of developing the Global Compact for Migration, a landmark international treaty outlining the rights and responsibilities of states and migrants.
Topic A: Standards of Protection for People Displaced by Climate Disasters
According to a report released by the European Parliament in 2019, an average of 26 million people have been displaced by natural disasters each year since 2008. Forward estimates suggest that as many as 143 million people could be displaced by 2050. However, despite the increasing influence of climate driven displacement throughout the world, there is currently no international framework that specifically identifies the rights of those seeking refuge due to environmental challenges. In reality, no individual has ever been recognized as a refugee under the official argument of fleeing from negative consequences of climate conditions. However, as displacement numbers grow due to immediate climate disasters (such as floods and earthquakes) or gradual changes (such as desertification or diminishing natural resources), there has been consistently growing pressure and international efforts to create protection protocols that include disaster and climate refugees. Without legal guarantees recognized by the international community, those who seek asylum because of climate conditions do not have a series of protections and rights that asylum seekers have, such as the right to not be sent back due to possible risks, resettlement and international protection. It is therefore crucial that the IOM succeeds in developing management policies that address the needs of those displaced by disasters and climate change in order to prevent another refugee and humanitarian crisis.
Topic B: Standards for the Detention of Arriving Immigrants and Asylum Seekers
Many countries consider the detention of immigrants a necessary part of their migration management processes. Over the last decade, there have been over two thousand detention centers used for immigration related purposes across almost one hundred countries. However, even though immigrant detention is supposed to be used administratively to ensure safe and legal entry into a country, the process often works without regulation or clear legal boundaries. This leaves migrants with no means to contest abuses or arbitrary detention, especially in countries where immigrants can be criminally prosecuted for irregular entry. These challenges weigh most heavily on the most vulnerable individuals, such as the 330,000 children who were detained for reasons related to migration in 2019. Victims of human trafficking, who are involuntarily smuggled across borders, are also often left with few options even when in the case of law enforcement authorities. Apart from the legal uncertainty, detention centers can be overcrowded, susceptible to health crises and severely limit immigrants’ privacy. As the leading organization regarding international migrants, it is crucial that the IOM works towards ensuring that migrants’ rights are respected and that human migration control measures are adopted in order to ensure that means to contest abuses are guaranteed and that immigrants are not detained unnecessarily.