Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD)

What is the GFMD?  The Global Forum on Migration and Development, or GFMD, is an intergovernmental forum (a meeting of governments) that takes place every year to discuss migration and development issues. It is an informal, voluntary, state-led and non-binding forum that seeks to address the multi-dimensional aspects, opportunities and challenges related to migration and development and to foster action-oriented outcomes. The GFMD came out of the recommendations of the United Nations High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development held on September 14-15 2006. The first GFMD took place in Brussels, Belgium on 10-11 July 2007. The second GFMD was hosted by the Philippine government and was held in Manila from 27-30 October 2008.

Every year after the annual Global Forum on Migration & Development (GFMD) was organized in: 2009: Athens, Greece, 2010: Mexico City, Mexico 2011: Geneva, Switzerland 2012: Accra, Ghana, 2013: New York City, USA, 2014: Stockholm, Zweden, 2015: Istanbul, Turkey, 2016:Dhaka, Bangladesh.


In 2017 and 2018, Germany and Morocco will assume the Co-Chairmanship of GFMD. In Germany it will take place in

from 28 – 30 June 2017 at the Federal Foreign Office, Berlin. In 2018 in will take place in Marakkech in December. For more information and documents, see the websites for GFMD can be accessed from the portal: The GFMD have seen the organization of an annual meeting, following more or less the same format, although each meeting has included its own distinctive and innovative elements. Generally the annual GFMD meetings had two components:

  • The Civil Society Days (CSD) meeting which preceded the government meeting. In Belgium, it lasted one day, while in the Philippines, Greece and Mexico the CSD were organized for two days. It provides a platform for discussion among representatives of Civil Society, representatives of NGOs, migrant associations, diaspora organizations, and representatives of trade unions and the private sector that are associated with, or interested in migration and development issues.
  • The Government Meeting, which is open to all UN Member States and Observers. In general, participants in the Government Meeting are high-level policy makers and practitioners on the ground, who can discuss informally the complex issues relating to migration and development.

Both the civil society and the government meetings produce a set of outcomes and recommendations each year. The CSD report is usually submitted at the opening of the government meeting, to signal the issues that civil society deem most important for the governments to discuss. Joint meetings (interface) between representatives of Civil Society and government delegates since Manila GFMD have also served as a means of converging both events. The purpose of the interface is to discuss the outcomes of the CSD meetings with government representatives.

What is Civil Society Days (CSD)?  Civil Society Days (CSD) is the non-governments’ parties component of the GFMD. The purpose of the CSD is to bring NGOs and other civil society organizations together to exchange ideas and experiences in the field of migration and development with an aim to contribute to the Forum a civil society perspective on migration issues. The CSD recommendations and proposals are presented to the government representatives during the 2-day intergovernmental meetings.

What will be discussed at the GFMD?  This Tenth Global Forum on Migration and Development – Germany 2017 Overarching Theme: “Towards a Global Social Contract on Migration and Development”. Debate will be structured around the following three sub-themes, spread over six roundtables:


Theme 1 Migration and Development through National Strategies: Enhancing the Effectiveness of Domestic Policies
Roundtable 1.1: Tools and Safeguards for Policy Coherence – Finding the right policy mix to balance different interests and objectives
Roundtable 1.2: From Global Agreement to Implementation – National Action Plans for migration-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Theme 2 Migration and Development through Multilateral and Bilateral Partnerships: Creating Perspectives for Inclusive Development

Roundtable 2.1: Moving beyond emergencies – Creating development solutions to the mutual benefit of host communities and displaced persons
Roundtable 2.2: Fostering the development impact of return migrants

Theme 3 Migration and Development: Finding strategies beyond the State

Roundtable 3.1: Raising the Global Talent Pool – Harnessing the Potential of the Private Sector for Global Skills Partnerships
Roundtable 3.2: Strengthening Cooperation – Enabling Civil Society Contributions in Migrant and Refugee Integration

Why is the GFMD important?  The GFMD has become one of the principal international spaces in which government discuss migration and development policy. International discourse and thought on migration policy and its relationship to development – and migrants’ rights – is being developed there. Further, bilateral agreements on migration are frequently being negotiated during the GFMD. Prior to GFMD, there was no single forum that brings governments together to discuss migration and development.

Why are migrants’ rights organizations concerned about the GFMD?  GFMD is a concern for migrants’ organizations and civil society organizations because there is no assurance that Civil Society Organizations’ (CSOs) participation will be a permanent and integral feature of the forum. In fact, several governments strongly oppose the idea of civil society involvement at the GFMD. As a result, there is neither a model established for CSO participation nor a permanent structure for the CSO Fora. Given this uncertainty, it is feared that the forum will continue to evolve without substantive consideration for migrants’ rights and of the fundamental issues that underlie the so-called pursuit of development, and that migrants who are the real actors in this debate will remain unheard.

As in the past, the GFMD is taking the course of examining migration policy only through the lens of economic development, without concern for the impact policies have on migrants. It has so far been very resistant to the integration of international human rights framework and principles to protect migrants. It has also been very restrictive to the participation of civil society.

What are the windows for engagement?  You may participate through the following channels:

  1. Official Forum
  2. Parallel Event
    Given the restrictive nature of the GFMD to the participation of civil society, CSOs that have been part of the past GFMDs will be organizing a parallel event dubbed as thePeoples’ Global Actionthat would provide essential space for groups from around the world to share information, dialogue, strengthen their analysis and develop joint positions on current and emerging issues on migration. Activities in the parallel event also pave the way for capacity building and establishment of networks. Activities would include workshops, public actions and demonstrations.

Discussions are centered on human rights as the basis for development and explores from a rights-based perspective, the full range of issues involved in migration, including the underlying problems of poverty and injustice, and how CSOs can decisively address these.