Owing to its state-led nature, the primary purpose of the Forum is to facilitate a constructive dialogue among governments. Yet another important objective is to enhance coherence in policy making and institution building – at the national, regional and international levels - where civil society actors are considered as contributors and partners. Civil society input to GFMD activities and dialogue between governments and civil society is thus recognized as both useful and necessary.

Over the past seven years, the Civil Society Days of the GFMD have been organized immediately prior to the GFMD meeting of Governments. Each year a statement with messages and recommendations from civil society has been presented during the opening of the Government Meeting (read the statement on the 2016 CSD here and the highlights and recommendations on the 2016 CSD here).The opening has also featured a 3-hour “Common Space” engaging both government and civil society representatives. In 2016 the business sector was also represented in the Common Space. To further encourage open dialogue, simultaneous breakout panels have been organized in addition to the traditional plenary meeting. It also broadened the participation of civil society, private sector and diaspora.

Since 2014, the CSDs have, in particular, taken forward the central issues of the ‘5-year 8-point Action Plan’, which civil society launched at the UN General Assembly High Level Dialogue (HLD) in 2013, for collaboration with governments in migration and development. At this HLD, member states adopted a consensus Declaration on a range of migration and development issues, strongly affirming the value of the GFMD and civil society’s role in it.

Encouraged by Mexico, the GFMD 2010 Chair, and appointed each year since then by subsequent GFMD Chairs Switzerland, Mauritius, Sweden, Turkey, Bangladesh, Morocco and Germany, the International Catholic Migration Commission established and has managed a GFMD Civil Society Coordinating Office since 2011. ICMC works closely with an International Civil Society Steering Committee of some 30 civil society leaders from around the world to develop, implement and monitor GFMD activities.

In 2014, the coordination of GFMD civil society activities gave birth to the Migration and Development Civil Society (MADE) Network. MADE expands opportunities for civil society to prepare for and follow up on GFMD meetings and recommendations through national and regional meetings and advocacy actions, to ensure that changes for migrants, migrants’ rights and human development are actually implemented on the ground.

For more information, please visit the GFMD Civil Society Days Website www.madenetwork.org/gfmd

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.