Fields of Expertise

International migration has many facets and affects societies in numerous and diverse ways. In order to structure information and knowledge on the various aspects of the migration phenomenon, ICMPD has defined the following “fields of expertise”:

Forced displacement, mixed migration flows and ensuring access to international protection and safe pathways pose significant challenges to national asylum systems and international protection mechanisms. In this context, ICMPD offers its assistance to governments and other stakeholders at the national and international level, in reconciling national, regional and global migration governance concerns with international protection concerns. Moreover, ICMPD strives to support the creation of a resilient and effective European asylum system by supporting its partners in the search of better policy options and by continuously engaging in the European debate on asylum and protection, all with the aim to develop innovative policy recommendations and to advance the discussion.

For almost three decades, ICMPD has engaged in numerous national, bilateral and EU-level initiatives in the field of border management. Thus, ICMPD has focused on the concept of Integrated Border Management (IBM), developed by the European Union to promote trade facilitation and mobility, while at the same time increasing border security. The overall IBM objective of open, but secure borders is achieved through full coordination and cooperation of all relevant stakeholders, especially border police and customs services, but also veterinary and phytosanitary inspections. Over the years, ICMPD's Border Management Programme has implemented border management programmes, projects and activities in many regions of the world, including the European Union, Western Balkans, South East Europe, Southern Caucasus, Central Asia, Africa, South America and South East Asia.

ICMPD capacity building aims to contribute to good migration governance and the strengthening of national and regional capacities to deal with challenges and seize opportunities in various fields of migration. Specifically, through its capacity building programmes, ICMPD develops and organises training programmes, facilitates international and interagency cooperation and supports governmental and administrative bodies in their institution building, policy formulation and legal reform efforts. Considering the importance of regional perspectives in international migration, ICMPD has adopted a regional approach in its work and is fostering close relationships with regions that connect with Europe. The aim is to create efficient cooperation and partnerships along migration routes. ICMPD conducts its capacity building activities in the following focus regions: Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Western Balkans and Turkey, European and Global Initiatives.

Promoting diaspora engagement is a major part of ICMPD’s work in the area of migration and development but has also become a core pillar for the enhancement of the effectiveness of migration governance systems through the development of diaspora engagement policies. In terms of operations, the former has taken the form of policy and strategy reflections, programming notes and training, and the latter can be further divided into diaspora policy development, support for diaspora outreach activities and empowering diaspora organisations. In the framework of MIEUX, a joint EU-ICMPD initiative on a migration experts’ facility established in 2009, the strengthening of diaspora engagement policies and practices has become a field of growing demand by governments (or joint-diaspora-government requests) and a main focus of many ongoing and new actions in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

The private sector plays an increasingly important role as a key partner in achieving development goals and in managing migration-related policies and processes. Traditionally assuming the role of a donor, the private sector has meanwhile become an indispensable actor in initiatives that focus on economic aspects when seizing opportunities or addressing challenges linked to migration. Labour migration strategies, talent partnerships or intelligent return and reintegration policies all depend on structural and far-reaching inclusion of the private sector. ICMPD promotes this inclusion in many initiatives and projects. The EU-funded Mobility Partnership Facility (MPF) seeks to build bridges between public and private sectors in the development of Talent partnerships. The project SUPREM supports the sustainable return of migrants through private-public multi-stakeholder partnerships. In close cooperation with many partners from the private sector, the College of Practical Skills and Start-up Centre in Nigeria trains young people, aims to create jobs and starts up new businesses, all.

Migration governance refers to the institutions, structures and processes that are needed to govern migration at the national, regional and global level. ICMPD’s work aims to contribute to the further development and implementation of balanced migration governance and targeted migration policies, taking into account the drivers and dynamics of migration, the various stakeholders’ interests and priorities, as well as the migration-related benefits and challenges. ICMPD supports its partners in the development of multi-level policy making and sustainable partnership approaches, along with results-oriented monitoring, evaluation and analysis of migration governance frameworks and systems.

Integration policies try to make sure that immigrants acquire the necessary means to participate in the economic, cultural and social life of the receiving societies, benefit from equal access to rights and opportunities and are subject to the same duties as the domestic population. Successful integration requires the involvement of both immigrants and the resident population and is closely linked to other policy areas, such as labour market policies, policies on education, health, housing or anti-discrimination. ICMPD supports the development and implementation of integration policies by conducting comparative research on integration realities and policy impacts, supporting partner countries in building administrative capacities, and facilitating the collection and exchange of data, experience and Good Practices.

Preventing irregular migration, as it poses challenges to both states and migrants, is an intrinsic part of comprehensive migration policies. The forces driving irregular migration, such as the disparities in the level of prosperity, human rights and security, are complex, powerful and difficult to modify. Responses have to go beyond migration control and include measures on economic and development cooperation, fostering good governance and creating pathways for legal migration. Thus, they must emphasize partnership between countries of origin, transit and destination, with a strong focus on facilitating dialogue between the various stakeholders at the national, regional and international level. ICMPD addresses the issue from a research, policy and operational aspect. It strives to develop solutions for all stages of the irregular migration process that are firmly embedded in migration dialogues and other regional and international cooperation frameworks.

The development of functioning, transparent and comprehensive policies in the fields of legal and labour migration, working for the benefit of migrants and receiving countries alike, is one of the main challenges for migration management. ICMPD assists governments in promoting and successfully managing legal and labour migration through the provision of direct capacity building support, the development and implementation of strategic policy documents, cooperation in regional frameworks and communication activities. Moreover, ICMPD strives to enhance the institutional capacities of partners to monitor and evaluate labour migration policy implementation through policy-relevant research and analysis with a comparative, interdisciplinary, and international approach.

Migration dialogues are successful tools to foster governmental discussions and enhance inter-state dialogue in the debate on migration policy issues. They contribute to the reinforcement of international migration cooperation, which facilitates the development of regional and global concepts and systems for more manageable migration. In various forms, ICMPD is tasked with support and secretariat functions for several migration dialogues, connecting Europe, its Eastern neighbours and Asia (Budapest Process and Prague Process on the one hand, and Europe, Africa and the Middle East (MTM Dialogue, EUROMED Migration IV, Rabat Process and Khartoum Process) on the other. Each migration dialogue has its own operative framework, agenda and thematic priorities, as well as geographic coverage and participation.

Recognising the migration-development (M&D) nexus and its policy implications is a precondition for pursuing comprehensive, sustainable and future-oriented migration governance. Migration policy needs to understand how it impacts development in both countries of origin and destination, but also how development processes influence migrants and migration. ICMPD works with governments worldwide to develop policies and programmes that foster sustainable and comprehensive governance of migration and mobility for the benefit of migrants, and countries of origin and destination. In support of various policy dialogues and expert networks, ICMPD has also worked on topics such as addressing environmentally induced migration, facilitating migrant remittances, and fostering investments and public-private partnerships.

In recent years, environmentally induced migration has gained increasing attention from researchers, policy-makers and the media. While there is a broad consensus that environmental factors play an important role in relation to human mobility, and are likely to increase in urgency and magnitude in the future, there has been no agreement on how environmental factors influence migration, forced migration and displacement. Against this backdrop, ICMPD strives to expand its research on the impact of environmental factors and climate change on migration dynamics and further promote the discussion on related policy responses in regional migration dialogues and other cooperation frameworks.

Around the world, refugees and undocumented migrants are at risk of being excluded from elementary healthcare services. This poses a risk to their health and that of their families, but also negatively affects public health and public health expenditures, i.e. through the potential spread of infectious diseases or the increase of emergency care provision. The COVID-19 pandemic put national health care systems under immense pressures. It also revealed that migrants are disproportionally often affected by crowded living and working conditions that facilitate the spread of infectious diseases. ICMPD conducts research on the health situation of vulnerable migrant groups, their access to healthcare and policy options to address the issue. In operational terms, ICMPD supports its partners in developing tools for that provide effective and coordinated assistance to migrants in large migration flows and health-related crises.

The successful development and implementation of migration policies largely depend on public support and acceptance. Thus, the extent to which the public supports and accepts these policies is based on perceptions of migration as such and of the political responses to the phenomenon rather than on pure facts. Migration continues to be a major public concern, however, the public neither feels well-informed about migration issues nor sufficiently heard in migration discourses and decision-making processes. ICMPD strives to address the public information and communication needs in various ways. The Centre continuously participates in the global migration debate at political, expert and public levels; communicates findings, facts and figures in easily accessible formats; reaches out to media and journalists, constantly expands its social media presence, and conducts targeted training for migration communicators and media representatives.

Migration policies are deliberate systems of principles that guide the decisions of competent actors and should achieve rational outcomes. ICMPD’s work aims to contribute to the further development and implementation of targeted migration policies, taking into account the drivers and dynamics of migration, the various stakeholders’ interests and priorities, as well as the migration-related benefits and challenges. ICMPD supports its partners in the development of multi-level policy making and sustainable partnership approaches, along with results-oriented monitoring, evaluation and analysis of migration governance frameworks and systems.

Research at ICMPD aims to further knowledge on migration-related issues, to facilitate cooperation and synergy within and beyond the research community and to respond to an increased demand for a more policy-relevant research. It wants to act as a “transmitter” between policy and academic communities, both within ICMPD and beyond. It applies a stakeholder-centred approach, involving governmental and non-governmental actors, migrants and non-migrants, academia and research networks, civil society organizations, trade unions and the media. This work is policy-oriented and empirical with an interdisciplinary and international approach.

A credible, functioning and human rights based policy on return of foreign nationals who do not - or no longer - fulfil the legal conditions for entry to, presence in or residence on the territory of a state is a crucial element of migration management and control. ICMPD works according to the principle, that an effective return policy encompasses both voluntary and forced return, with a clear preference for the voluntary return option. Thus, return policies must be based on the principles of partnership and close cooperation between sending and receiving countries and, most importantly, centre around measures that ensure sustainable and dignified return and reintegration of migrants themselves. ICMPD’s activities in the area of return and reintegration cover a broad field, ranging from post-arrival and reintegration assistance, return monitoring, capacity building, training and strategy development to research, evaluation and analysis.

Addressing the issue of trafficking in human beings is one of ICMPD's core competences, and has been since the beginning of the millennium. ICMPD's Anti-Trafficking Programme aims to support countries at the national and regional level by assisting the development of comprehensive anti-trafficking responses in accordance with international and European standards. Working closely with governments, international organisations and civil society groups, the Anti-Trafficking Programme applies a multi-disciplinary and human rights-based approach and follows ICMPD’s three pillar approach of Policy and Research, Capacity Building and Dialogues and Partnership. The Anti-Trafficking Programme, which started its activities in South-Eastern Europe and in the EU, has gradually expanded to other areas of the world including the Mediterranean and Middle East, Silk Routes countries, West Africa (ECOWAS) and Brazil.