Written by Chawaratt Chawarangkul and Min Yamada Park

In mid-March 2021, IDC was able to take part in  the first Regional Review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM) in the Asia Pacific. The Regional Review, which took place both virtually and in Bangkok from 10 to 12 March, was organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Regional UN Network on Migration for Asia and the Pacific. The event brought together over 200 government representatives, UN agencies, civil society stakeholders and people with lived experience and provided an ample space for participants to discuss concrete steps to align migration governance with sustainable development goals and respect for human rights, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The GCM is an important inter-governmental framework for improved migration governance grounded in international human rights law and reaffirms States’ commitment to respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights for all migrants. The first GCM Regional Review in Asia-Pacific offered an opportunity for participants to share promising practices and learnings from the countries in the region and enhance collective actions under the framework. As IDC is working on the human rights of all migrants with a specific focus on ending immigration detention through the implementation of ATD, we have prioritised the people-centered framework and human rights-based approach provided by the GCM and therefore support the Regional Review.

IDC’s key interventions at the Regional Review were threefold. On 11 March, the IDC’s Executive Director Carolina Gottardo delivered her speech at the roundtable on ‘Protecting Migrants Through Rights-Based Border Governance and Border Management Measures.’ She highlighted the criminalisation of the migrants and refugees and child immigration detention as major human rights challenges the region is facing: “Let’s leave no doubt: there is no good practice for detaining children. Children do not belong in immigration detention”.  She also stressed the need for scaling up the implementation of the community-based alternatives to detention, noting that the solution to these challenges shouldn’t end at releasing migrants and refugees from detention: “Releases are welcome but are not enough. They need to be accompanied by casework and by access to services and rights, so migrants are not left in destitution. …The leadership of people with lived experience of detention is crucial. Their voices need to be at the heart of the effective implementation of GCM and of developing rights-based ATDs”. The event details and audio recording can be found here.

IDC’s Executive Director Carolina Gottardo delivered her speech at the roundtable on ‘Protecting Migrants Through Rights-Based Border Governance and Border Management Measures.’

IDC also co-organised a virtual roundtable ‘Child Rights and Migration in Asia’ with Save the Children, the Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts, UNICEF and the UN Mayor Group  on Children and Youth: “Child Rights and Migration in Asia”. The outcomes of the event were reflected in this joint communique: Putting children’s rights at the heart of the Global Compact for Migration’s implementation in Asia Pacific.

Additionally, on 12 March, IDC also co-organised a virtual side-event on ‘Implementing Alternatives to Detention: Lessons Learned from the Global Pandemic’s at the Regional Review, alongside the Thai government (Department of International Organisations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand), Bonigi Monitoring, and the UN Major Group on Children and Youth (UNMGCY). This side event covered Objective 13 of the GCM, which focuses on the commitment of States to use detention only as a last resort and work towards alternatives. Panelists from government, civil society, and people with lived experience of detention came together to explore the core purpose, opportunities, and framework of ATDs as well as the critical relevance of ATDs in the era of COVID-19. Link to the side-event details and audio recording.