The International Organization for Migration
is an intergovernmental organization. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
It is the principal intergovernmental organization in the field of migration. IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.
IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, be they refugees, displaced persons or other uprooted people.
The IOM Constitution gives explicit recognition to the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development, as well as to the right of freedom of movement of persons.
IOM works in the four broad areas of migration management: migration and development, facilitating migration, regulating migration, and addressing forced migration
Forced migration refers to the coerced movement of a person or persons away from their home or home region...
. Cross-cutting activities include the promotion of international migration law, policy debate and guidance, protection of migrants’ rights, migration health and the gender dimension of migration.
In addition, IOM has often organized elections for refugees out of their home country, as was the case in the 2004 Afghan elections and the 2005 Iraqi elections. These elections were directed by Peter Erben
Peter Erben is a senior electoral manager with global experience in directing, advising and supporting complex elections in post-conflict, transitional and developing countries usually working for or alongside with the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe , the...
supported by senior electoral managers such as Craig Jenness, Richard Atwood and Stuart Poucher
Stuart Poucher, a retired British colonel, is today an international electoral expert. He served in numerous electoral missions in developing countries, usually in the context of United Nations or European Union operations....
IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners.
IOM, or as it was first known, the Provisional Intergovernmental Committee for the Movement of Migrants from Europe (PICMME), was born in 1951 out of the chaos and displacement of Western Europe following the Second World War.
Mandated to help European governments to identify resettlement countries for the estimated 11 million people uprooted by the war, it arranged transport for nearly a million migrants during the 1950s.
A succession of name changes from PICMME to the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) in 1952, to the Intergovernmental Committee for Migration (ICM) in 1980 to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 1989, reflects the organization's transition over half a century from logistics agency to migration agency.
While IOM's history tracks the man-made and natural disasters of the past half century—Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968
Czechoslovakia 1968 is a 1969 short documentary film about the "Prague Spring", the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. The film was produced by the United States Information Agency under the direction of Robert M...
, Chile 1973
The 1973 Chilean coup d'état was a watershed event of the Cold War and the history of Chile. Following an extended period of political unrest between the conservative-dominated Congress of Chile and the socialist-leaning President Salvador Allende, discontent culminated in the latter's downfall in...
, the Vietnamese Boat People
Boat people is a term that usually refers to refugees, illegal immigrants or asylum seekers who emigrate in numbers in boats that are sometimes old and crudely made...
1975, Kuwait 1990
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...
and Timor 1999, and the Asian tsunami, Pakistan earthquake
The 2005 Kashmir earthquake was a major earthquake centered in Pakistan-administered Kashmir known as Azad Kashmir, near the city of Muzaffarabad, affecting Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It occurred at 08:52:37 Pakistan Standard Time on 8 October 2005...
of 2004/2005 and the 2010 Haiti earthquake
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, approximately west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks...
—its credo that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society has steadily gained international acceptance.
From its roots as an operational logistics agency, it has broadened its scope to become the leading international agency working with governments and civil society to advance the understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration, and uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.
The broader scope of activities has been matched by rapid expansion from a relatively small agency into one with an annual operating budget of close to $1 billion and some 5,400 staff working in over 100 countries worldwide.
As "The International Migration Agency" IOM has become the point of reference in the heated global debate on the social, economic and political implications of migration in the 21st century.