Committee Overview

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 brought the IOM formally into the UN System and 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: Migrant Abuse at International Borders

There are very few international standards regarding the treatment of immigrants at borders. There are treaties about refugees, but countries can implement those treaties as they wish. Unfortunately, this means that migrants are often victims of abuse at international borders. Such abuse may include physical violence, discrimination, imprisonment, and even more dangerous outcomes. For example, migrants traveling by sea have reported that vigilantes and border agents have forced them from their boats and left them on flimsy rafts. There are many stories of gruesome, deadly consequences after the border agents leave. If these incidents are not addressed, border areas will continue to be a hotspot of human rights violations. This crisis is a shared, global responsibility. It does not affect any one country or region. Therefore, there must be cooperation and partnership when considering solutions. The IOM must create better standards for border management to ensure that all migrants are treated fairly under the law.

Topic B: Protecting Unaccompanied Child Migrants

In 2019, 33 million international migrants were children, many of whom were not traveling with a parent or guardian. Worse, the number seems to be growing rapidly. There were five times as many children traveling along in 2015 as there were in 2010. Migration journeys are already fraught with peril, and not having a parent puts children in even more danger. Unaccompanied child migrants are exposed to greater risks of exploitation and abuse during transit and at borders. Between 2014 and 2020, the IOM estimates that 2,300 children died or went missing just during their migration journey. The abuse they experience includes sexual exploitation, trafficking, and physical violence. Even if these children reach their destination, countless more children are captured, exploited, and abused. However, these abuses are preventable. Some countries have found that resettlement shelters, safe migration routes, and better record-keeping at border crossings lead to better outcomes for children. The IOM’s mandate is to protect all migrants. However, considering how vulnerable children are, especially unaccompanied children, the IOM has a special responsibility to assist them. Delegates in this committee will be asked to find new and creative solutions to ensure children’s human rights are respected.