Migration processes are multidimensional and represent significant opportunities and challenges for countries. In this sense, IOM aims at highlighting the economic, social and cultural contributions of migrants to the sustainable development of societies. 

To this end, IOM cooperates with States in the region and provides assistance to migrants and communities through its Regional Strategy, whose vision is based on three pillars: resilience, mobility and governance.  

The regional strategy underscores the crucial task undertaken by IOM in emergency situations, the development of resilience of communities and populations on the move, particularly those in situations of vulnerability, building, at the same time, capacity within governments to manage all forms and impacts of mobility.  

It is executed through thematic areas based on a migrant human rights approach: border management, labour migration and development, migration and health, migrant protection and assistance, emergencies, mental health and psychosocial support.  

IOM is present in ten South American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay y Venezuela. Its Regional Office (RO) is located in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  

Regional Strategy

IOM maintains that safe, orderly and regular migration benefits both migrants and societies.

From a holistic approach, focused on the human rights of migrants, IOM cooperates with the States in the region to ensure that migration constitutes an opportunity for migrants and their families to achieve greater well-being and better life prospects. 

For this purpose, IOM’s Regional Office (RO) for South America guides its actions according to the IOM global Strategic Vision, the Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

This Strategy provides tools for the promotion of resilience, mobility and effective governance within the region to help address the diverse socioeconomic challenges in South America that have had an impact on migration dynamics and flows. 

In the region, IOM provides technical cooperation and support to governments and assistance to migrants and communities through the development of actions in the following areas: assistance and protection of migrants; migration and climate change; migration and health; labour migration, immigration and border management; migration data and research; and strategic communication. 

Download the Regional Strategy here.

Strategic Priorities in the Region

The IOM Strategic Vision is based on these three pillars: resilience, mobility and governance. 

Regarding resilience, IOM in South America has set four regional strategic priorities:

(a) Facilitate distinctive assistance and protection to migrants throughout the migration process, prioritizing the most vulnerable people.

(b) Address adverse factors that may trigger disordered, insecure or irregular migration.

(c) Implement stabilization, transition and peace-building actions in accordance with the principles, objectives and goals of sustainable development.

(d) Facilitate channels through which migrants can support sustainable development in origin and host communities. 

The priorities under mobility are as follows:

(a) Promote more efficient and secure migration administration systems, with a focus on the protection of migrants’ human rights. 

(b) Foster sustainable solutions for documentation and regularization. 

(c) Offer alternatives that will enable to harmonize labour market requirements with the needs of migrant workers and their host communities.

(d) Ensure the continuity of medical attention and health responses to emergent needs related to human mobility.

Under governance, the main priorities are:

(a) Mobilise partners and capacities in support of States for the development of the migration dimension, in line with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

(b) Promote the sustainable development and human rights approaches in regional spaces, factoring in the migration variable.

(c) Facilitate the inclusion of migrant persons and the migration dimension in the planning and management of territories.

(d) Improve partners’ capacities to produce, employ and share information, and increase awareness of migration (and its various processes) and of migrant persons themselves.

IOM Engagement with United Nations Bodies in the Region 

In South America, IOM is strongly involved with United Nations bodies at the national and regional levels. Several areas of regional cooperation and specific experiences relating to migration contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This is achieved through data collection and policy repositories; capacity-building and regional initiatives to coordinate guidelines and policy responses; and analysis of the links between migration and development.

Promoting data collection and systematisation helps to support evidence-based governance and policies and, in turn, combat negative narratives about migrants.

Within the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, country-level United Nations migration networks are essential platforms for providing a coherent United Nations response to help address countries’ migration priorities based on the work of the Global Compact, IOM and other United Nations agencies, with governments supporting the implementation of actions to promote good migration governance in the countries of the region.

At the regional level, IOM and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), with the participation of other United Nations entities, lead the regional review process of the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration. This process represents a major stepping stone for Member States to advance implementation of the Global Compact for Migration. Since the incorporation of IOM into the United Nations system, it has been bolstering coordination with different regional institutions in the system by progressively taking part in, for example, the United Nations country teams (UNCTs) and by participating in the United Nations Sustainable Development Group for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNSDG LAC), with a leadership role in migration.

IOM Engagement in Regional Mechanisms 

Given the importance of regional dialogue mechanisms and their proven effectiveness in confronting regional migration challenges, IOM considers the strengthening of these dialogue mechanisms to be key. The Organisation will expand the advances achieved in building anchored institutional discourse on good migration governance in the region, based on the principles and objectives included in the IOM Strategic Results Framework.

In addition, IOM has been working closely with the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), focusing on specialised programming with some of its migration-related mechanisms. IOM also provides technical assistance to the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Pacific Alliance. 

IOM, moreover, has strong ties with the South American Conference on Migration (SACM) and the Ibero-American Network of Migration Authorities (RIAM), forums where IOM serves as Technical Secretariat.

IOM, alongside other United Nations organizations, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), have supported the Quito Process, a cooperation mechanism developed by governments of 11 South and Central American countries to manage the humanitarian and migration challenges linked to the Venezuela crisis. It represents an informal group that has agreed on 18 points of action and has called for increased spending on assistance for Venezuelan migrants and refugees by the participating countries themselves, with support from the United Nations and other “specialised international organizations.”

IOM, alongside UNHCR and other UN agencies, have supported the implementation of these action points through technical assistance, specifically in the areas of humanitarian assistance, documentation and economic integration, among others. 

Strategic Partnerships

The major partners of IOM in South America include governments, intergovernmental institutions (regional consultative processes, regional integration mechanisms and regional forums), United Nations agencies, international organisations, academia (universities and research centres) and civil society (workers’ and business unions, migrants’ associations and migrants’ rights organisations, among others). 

The growing relevance of migration has greatly increased the number of actors, including various United Nations agencies that are developing actions in the field in specific areas closely linked with migration.

In addition to current partners, the approach for the private sector and organisations that represent their interests, such as the International Organization of Employers, is extended.

The field of environmental migration has also enabled IOM to build collaborative relationships with actors, such as the Platform on Disaster Displacement

Lastly, the Organisation, in accordance with the whole-of-society approach, increasingly promotes the involvement of civil society organizations (CSOs) in regional spaces as an important area of migration governance, as well as in the Global Compact for Migration and other frameworks, where Member States and other stakeholders could benefit from the experience of CSOs on the ground.