Remembering Mr. Peter Sutherland, 
Founding Father of the GFMD

Statement of the GFMD Co-Chairs on the Death of Mr. Peter Sutherland (1946-2018)
It is with a profound sense of loss that we hereby inform you of the death of our much beloved Sir Peter Sutherland, former UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for International Migration (SRSG), and the founding father of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). (Read the announcement from his family here.)

The GFMD Co-Chairs, Morocco and Germany, together with the GFMD Support Unit, extend condolences to the bereaved family and to all others touched by his death. 

As we have lost an important pillar in the global migration community, let us honor and look back at Mr. Sutherland’s tremendous contribution to the Global Forum since its inception in 2007.

Mr. Sutherland was appointed in 2006 as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for International Migration by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. In this function, Mr. Sutherland engineered the establishment of the GFMD in 2007 as an independent Forum for Member States to foster a global dialogue and cooperation on migration. Since then, until September 2016 when he fell ill, Mr. Sutherland had offered strategic advice and support to the rotating GFMD Chairmanships. 

Serving as the link between the GFMD and the UN, Mr. Sutherland accompanied the evolution of the Global Forum process. He helped galvanize support from participating Member States to ensure the sustainability of the GFMD process, promote greater cooperation between and among the Global Migration Group member agencies, and strengthen the engagement of the GFMD with other vital stakeholders, notably the civil society and the private sector. Mr. Sutherland’s tireless efforts bore fruition in 2013, when the Second High Level Dialogue on international migration firmly recognized the many achievements of the Global Forum in building trust and promoting practical solutions and cooperation on migration challenges. 

Deeply moved by the 2015 migration crises in the Andaman Sea and the Mediterranean, Mr. Sutherland strongly urged the global community to address the complex challenges of mixed migration. He championed the cause of protecting the human rights of both migrants and refugees, as he emphasized the need for responsibility-sharing between and among Member States, international organizations and other concerned stakeholders. He called for the inclusion of migration-related targets in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and recognized the potential role that the GFMD could play in the implementation and follow-up of migration commitments in the 2030 Agenda. 

In 2016, he provided the inspiration and crucial support for the organization of the UN High Level Summit on Large Movements of Member States and advocated for IOM to become part of the UN in order to deal with migration issues from a global cooperation angle. He also came out with a landmark report known as the “Sutherland Report,” which makes recommendations for the better management of migration through international cooperation, and proposes ways of strengthening the engagement of the United Nations on migration. In this report, he proposed that “in the immediate future, the Global Forum will serve to support consensus-building on an ambitious global compact on migration and advance the implementation of the migration-related commitments in the 2030 Agenda.” The Sutherland report is a key reference for the 54-page Thematic Recollection 2007-2017 of the GFMD which constituted the Global Forum’s contribution to the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) process.  

As 2018 will be a crucial year for the adoption of the first ever Global Compact, the GFMD will continue to find inspiration from Mr. Sutherland’s work and vision for international migration. May we always honor and remember the life of service he has shared with the GFMD and the global community.



For those who wish to express their appreciation for Mr. Sutherland's work and offer their condolences to his family and friends, we invite you to write on the online memorial page created by the GFMD

Please click this link.

Your messages will be communicated to his family in due course.

Peter Sutherland


GFMD 2016 Logo


Mr. Götz Schmidt-Bremme

Ambassador for the 2017-2018 

GFMD Co-Chairmanship

German Federal Foreign Office

Mr. El Habib Nadir

Ministry Delegate in charge of Moroccans 

living abroad and migration affairs

GFMD Co-Chairmanship