Expert Voice

Capacity building - an enabler of transformations: Ten lessons learnt from 10 years of MIEUX

21 June 2018

In 2018, the Joint EU-ICMPD “Migration EU Expertise” (MIEUX) Initiative celebrates its 10th anniversary. MIEUX, as a veritable pioneering capacity development global Initiative, has tremendously evolved since its inception, becoming a remarkable EU peer-to-peer expert facility with worldwide recognition. MIEUX’s transformation resonates with the opportunities and challenges that the EU and its partner countries share and corresponds to the shifts in migration governance, discourses, policies and institutions all over the globe. The 2017 Annual Report reflects this evolution by illustrating how the programme contributes to enhancing migration governance, furthering EU strategic priorities, and acting as a catalyst for knowledge exchange between migration experts. To mark the launch of the 2017 Annual Report, Oleg Chirita, Programme Coordinator of Global Initiatives, shares ten lessons learnt and their significance for the future of capacity building in the field of migration. 

By Oleg Chirita

10 years ago: the pioneering EU migration capacity building facility is created

Lesson 1: Grasping the context and challenges ahead

The MIEUX Initiative was set up in 2008 and it became operational at the beginning of 2009. Back then, migration governance was confronting a wide range of challenges. Firstly, there was limited knowledge of how migration should form an integral part of development plans or on the inter-play between migration and other public policies. Secondly, multi-stakeholder coordination during policy-making and implementation was rare and only sporadic consultations were taking place between governmental and non-governmental actors. Thirdly, there was great reluctance to commit fully to the principle of international cooperation in the area of migration. Finally, many countries were not in possession of sufficient knowledge, information, understanding, capacities, institutions and resources to deal with the various facets of migration.

It was against this backdrop that MIEUX was set up by the EU and ICMPD and aligned with the EU policies as, from the EU’s perspective, capacity building was - and continues to be - an important form of cooperation with partner countries. In particular, the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility identified capacity building and exchanges of experts as ways to open up dialogue and operational cooperation between the EU and partner countries.  

10 years later: an X-ray of migration governance  

Lesson 2: Concerted efforts to create common opportunities ahead 

In recent years, migration has become a global complex reality and it has risen to the top of the political agenda at national, regional and international level. Much progress has been achieved in the past few years: the establishment of various regional and international fora prompted and intensified debates, new ways of thinking, increased dialogue, and joint identification of solutions. More governments have started putting in place governance structures, designing comprehensive and sectoral migration policy frameworks, understanding better migration and its impacts; as well as becoming more willing to discuss and cooperate within the framework of various processes. The inclusion of migration under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the ongoing negotiations of the Global Compacts attest to this fact. Additionally, new forms of partnerships have been forged and multi-stakeholder collaborative approaches taken, including with non-state actors, local authorities, migrants associations and the private sector. The full potential of partnerships is still to be explored. Institutionally, more and more states have set up dedicated migration units or agencies, inter-agency migration coordination structures, migration observatories, and untraditional actors have been attached to the process, such as ministries of planning, departments of statistics.

Lesson 3: Migration is development

The majority of governments are keen on finding pragmatic ways and solutions to harness the nexus of migration and development in the most beneficial manner. It is encouraging that more states are in the process of conceiving migration and development policies. Yet more remains to be done, namely through capacity development, mainstreaming of migration into development planning at central and local levels, and understanding the impact of migration on development.

Lesson 4: Asking the right questions

Owing to various global and regional processes and initiatives, governments have put migration on their domestic agendas and initiated debates on what migration means to them. As such, the question why migration is important has been largely addressed. However, more determined efforts, creativity, assistance, commitment and boldness are needed to delve into other questions: what more is to be done to make migration better; how could governments transform their actions so as to optimise migration and its outcomes; when shall governments take action; where to take action - in terms of both which sectors (both those impacted and impacting migration), and  which levels of administration and governance; and who shall be involved in diverse processes.

A leap forward: why and how to deliver more effective capacity building

Lesson 5: Capacity building as a catalyst

MIEUX’s experiences, tested approaches and modalities lead to a clear conclusion: capacity building cannot be static and of a purely technical nature. It must be transformative, spearheading diverse purposes and inter-institutional changes by building trust and mutual support. It should be associated with complex reform processes, consider diverse entry points and multiple tools and toolboxes, benefit from political engagement and bring together various actors in order to foster collective and organisational learning and trigger long-term systemic transformations. 

Lesson 6: Capacity building as a multidimensional process

Capacity building, as a process, shall be embedded within existing and would-be governmental structures to ensure sustainability and efficiency and framed as a support mechanism to other important processes led by governments – e.g. policy formulation, analysis, implementation, data collection, coordination, consultations, policy and institutional coherence, etc.

Lesson 7: Capacity building as a means to deal with the complexity of migration

More targeted capacity building is yet to be provided given the fact that migration requires complex approaches (local, national, regional, sub-regional and international levels) and policy arenas involving an increasing number of (new) actors. There is therefore a need, in the years to come, to shift capacity building towards implementing the SDGs and other international commitments; defining objectives of national migration policy frameworks; ensuring effective functioning of governance systems; creating coherence among diverse policies and actors with divergent interests and expectations; facilitating migration; better understanding of the determinants, impacts and outcomes of migration; understanding how migration can complement other public policies and vice-versa; data management, monitoring and evaluation; and building trust and mutual understanding, altering the public discourse on migration and migrants.  

Lesson 8: Create, relate, and innovate

It is imperative to provide capacity building in various thematic migration fields, but also in relation to good governance, public administration, strategic management, policy cycle management, etc. with a view to boosting and strengthening the quality of the public administration exercise. This can be achieved by using technology and tailored capacity building techniques that fully involve and support existing or emerging public training institutions. The capacity building process needs to be anchored in suitable institutional structures. This approach is expected to yield more sustainable results; cultivate a stronger spirit of exchange among peers; and create and replicate best practices, thus subsequently feeding multiple organisational and policy processes.

MIEUX at 10: not only a significant milestone, but also a laboratory of knowledge

Lesson 9: From pioneer to major player

MIEUX is more than a technical assistance programme - over the years it has turned into a solid platform spearheading dialogue and cooperation, a catalyser for multi-stakeholder and diversified partnerships, a laboratory of knowledge and practices, a promoter of innovative working methodologies, and a reference when it comes to the collaboration between the EU and partner countries. With its significant portfolio on four continents and more than 100 Actions, the Initiative moved beyond the classical exchanges of know-how by producing innovative practices grounded in national contexts, establishing policy and institutional coherence, creating local ownership, home-grown solutions and promoting the benefits of migration for human and sustainable development.  

Lesson 10: 2018 is an opportunity for reflection

Ten years of implementation is undeniably a tremendous opportunity to reflect upon MIEUX’s progress in order to celebrate its achievements and to further consolidate a wide range of good practices established. As such, throughout 2018, MIEUX is analysing the evolution of the Initiative from the perspective of impact and results; extracting and promoting practices on a wide array of topics and constituents of migration governance; reflecting upon the contribution of MIEUX to capacity building, and further exploring the intrinsic link between MIEUX’s results and the development of policy and institutional landscapes.

To this avail, MIEUX is organising a series of regional peer-to-peer events in Africa, Asia, the EU Neighbourhood and Latin America and the Caribbean to bring together the partner countries and experts who will discuss what MIEUX means to them and what it has achieved in specific contexts.

A dedicated paper on the role of ICMPD in delivering capacity building is in preparation; it will collect good practices at institutional level, including from MIEUX.

The 2017 MIEUX Annual Report depicts a set of good practices generated in the previous months and gives a voice to MIEUX’s partners and experts who explain how the capacity building provided via the Initiative brought about changes in their institutions and countries.


Oleg Chirita is Programme Coordinator for Global Initiatives at ICMPD. 


Discussing MIEUX good practices in Asia: Regional Round-table in Bangkok