The GFMD and Civil Society

Owing to its state-led nature, the primary purpose of the Forum is to facilitate a constructive dialogue between governments. However, another important objective of the Forum is to enhance coherence in policy making and institution building – at the national, regional and international levels – and civil society actors are considered as important contributors and partners in achieving this goal. Civil society input to discussion, and dialogue between governments and civil society, is thus recognized as a vital part of the GFMD’s activities.



GFMD Civil Society Days (CSD)

The most significant involvement of civil society in the GFMD is through the annual GFMD Civil Society Days. Since the creation of the GFMD, each year the Civil Society Days have been organized back-to-back with the GFMD Summit Meeting of governments.

The CSD meeting feeds into the GFMD Summit in two important ways. Firstly, each year the CSD produce a statement containing messages and recommendations which is presented during the opening of the Summit Meeting. Further, since 2010 the Summit has included a “Common Space” session open to both government and civil society representatives, which includes both a traditional plenary meeting and more focused breakout panels. Since 2016, the private sector has also been invited to participate in the Common Space.

GFMD Civil Society Coordinating Office

In 2011, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) was invited by the GFMD Chair to establish a GFMD Civil Society Coordinating Office, and ICMC has since then coordinated the organization of the CSD and their link to the government GFMD process. ICMC works closely with an International Civil Society Steering Committee comprised of some 25 civil society leaders from around the world to develop, implement and monitor GFMD activities.

Since 2014, the CSD have in particular taken forward the central issues of the ‘5-year 8-point Action Plan’, launched by civil society at the UN General Assembly High Level Dialogue (HLD) in 2013, which seeks to facilitate collaboration with governments with regards to migration and development. In December 2018, a joint civil society message to Member States, which emerged from the CSD discussions, was released at the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Migration.

Over the past years, GFMD Civil Society participation has continued to build a global network of migrant rights and development leaders advocating for and contributing to the implementation and review of GFMD recommendations. However, despite close coordination with other GFMD activities, Civil Society activities remain independent from the government-led GFMD process.

For more information, please visit the GFMD Civil Society website or download the brochure.

Previous Civil Society Days (CSD) Meetings

To find out more about the outcomes of the past Civil Society Days meetings, please explore the documents from each year below:

The Civil Society Days (19 and 20 November 2012) in Port Louis were organized in cooperation with the International Advisory Committee and Caritas’ field office in Mauritius around the overarching theme “Operationalizing Protection and Human Development in International Migration.” It emphasized the need to produce real-world mechanisms and benchmarks based on the recommendations of both government and civil society at previous GFMD summits. It gathered together some 140 civil society delegates, 60 government and international organization delegates, 30 special guests and media representatives. Noteworthy is the fact that the largest number of African civil society delegates and diaspora participated in Port Louis CS Days since the GFMD began in 2007.

In Geneva, the Civil Society Days were organized by the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) upon the invitation of the Swiss GFMD Chair. The ICMC took responsibility for coordinating the civil society process in its entirety, working together on the themes and outlines for the civil society activities with an International Advisory Committee of 15 civil society leaders and consulting with over 200 diverse individuals and organizations. The GFMD 2011 Civil Society Days held on 29 and 30 November were attended by 186 civil society delegates, representing 61 different nationalities, 45 observers from regional and international organizations, 43 special guests, 18 media representatives and 71 government delegates from 35 countries.

In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the Civil Society Days were organized by the Fundación BBVA Bancomer. More than 400 delegates and observers from 80 countries, representing migrants and a wide range of other civil society actors, international organizations and 33 governments, met during the Civil Society Days held on 8-9 November 2010.

In Athens, the Civil Society Days were organized by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation. Like in Manila, there were two days of civil society consultations and an interface with the governments on the last day. 225 delegates met during the Civil Society Days held on 2-3 November 2009.

In Manila, two Civil Society Days were organized by the Ayala Foundation on the same Roundtable themes of the government meeting. The Manila GFMD Civil Society days provided a more extensive interface of the civil society actors with governments, an expansion of the range of stakeholders or sectoral representation, with special emphasis on the private sector, and a year-long consultation process at the national level. On 8-9 October 2008 220 delegates from non-state organizations and bodies all over the world met to consider the rights and protection of migrants, the expansion of legal avenues for migration and the challenge of policy coherence within states and across borders.

In Brussels a Civil Society Day was convened on 9 July 2007 by the King Baudouin Foundation before the start of the government meeting. More than 200 representatives of development, migration, and human rights NGOs, diaspora organizations, private sector actors, including money transfer associations, academics, and trade unions participated in the Civil Society Day. They discussed the government Roundtable themes and submitted their report at the closing plenary session of the Government meeting.