In light of the challenges posed by migration and its ramifications (socio-economic, political, human rights related, etc.), the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Council of Ministers adopted Decision CM ⁄ Dec 614 (LXXIV) during the 74th Ordinary Session in Lusaka, Zambia in July 2001; the decision called for the development of a Migration Policy Framework, and mandated the following:
- To develop a strategic framework for migration policy in Africa that could contribute to addressing the challenges posed by migration and to ensure the integration of migration and related issues into the national and regional agenda for security, stability, development and cooperation.
- To work towards the free movement of people and to strengthen intra-regional and inter-regional cooperation in matters concerning migration, on the basis of the established processes of migration at the regional and sub-regional levels; and
- To create an environment conducive to facilitating the participation of migrants, in particular those in the Diaspora, in the development of their own countries.
This culminated in the adoption of the Migration Policy Framework for Africa (MPFA) in 2006 in Banjul, The Gambia, as a basic guideline and reference document to assist Member States and RECs to develop national and regional migration policies. It urged Member States and RECs to utilize the migration policy framework, in the development of migration policies, and requested the AU Commission in consultation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other relevant partners, to assist Member States with the development and implementation of sound migration policies. The AU Migration Policy Framework recognizes the significant role of RECs to leverage migration governance at the regional and national levels and provides guidelines and principles to assist governments and RECs in the formulation and implementation of their own national and regional migration policies in accordance with their priorities and resources.
The 2006 MPFA provided comprehensive and integrated policy guidelines to AU Member States and RECs, which they were encouraged to take into consideration in their endeavours to promote migration and development and address migration challenges on the continent. It provided policy guidelines in nine thematic areas, namely: Labour Migration; Border Management; Irregular Migration; Forced Displacement; Human Rights of Migrants; Internal Migration; Migration Data Management; Migration and Development; and Inter-State co-operation and partnerships.
Through the SAMM project, IOM will provide technical and financial support to the RECs and the Member States to develop and implement migration policy framework in line with the AU Policy Frameworks and other continental and inter-continental frameworks. Furthermore, in order to ensure holistic approach to the addressing the challenges of mixed migration in the region, SAMM project will support regular dialogue and consultation of country, regional and inter-regional levels with the Member States within the context of MIDSA, MIDCOM and MIDIOC and other multi-lateral processes to ensure that the protection needs, and concerns of vulnerable migrants are addressed.
- Assist RECs and the Member States in the formulation of a Regional and National Migration Policy Framework respectively. Country case studies – Lesotho Policy on Migration and Development; Bostwana National Migration Policy; Technical support to the SADC Regional Migration Policy.
- Organize regional consultations for formulation and adoption of the Framework and an Action Plan.
- Facilitate the organization of MIDSA, MIDCOM and MiDIOC as regional consultative processes and support the Member States in the implementation of key recommendations.
- Support bilateral dialogue between member States; support inter-regional dialogue between source, transit and destination countries; and as needed multilateral dialogue between 3 or more States affected by a common migration issues.
GCM Objective 7 “Address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration commits the Member States to respond to the needs of migrants who face situations of vulnerability, which may arise from the circumstances in which they travel or the conditions they face in countries of origin, transit and destination, by assisting them and protecting their human rights, in accordance with our obligations under international law. The Member States further commit to uphold the best interests of the child at all times, as a primary consideration in situations where children are concerned, and to apply a gender-responsive approach in addressing vulnerabilities, including in responses to mixed movements.
To realize this commitment, Member States may draw from the following actions:
- Review relevant policies and practices to ensure they do not create, exacerbate or unintentionally increase vulnerabilities of migrants, including by applying a human rights based, gender- and disability-responsive, as well as an age- and child-sensitive approach.
- Establish comprehensive policies and develop partnerships that provide migrants in a situation of vulnerability, regardless of their migration status, with necessary support at all stages of migration, through identification and assistance, as well as protection of their human rights, in particular in cases related to women at risk, children, especially those unaccompanied or separated from their families, members of ethnic and religious minorities, victims of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, older persons, persons with disabilities, persons who are discriminated against on any basis, indigenous peoples, workers facing exploitation and abuse, domestic workers, victims of trafficking in persons, and migrants subject to exploitation and abuse in the context of smuggling of migrants.
- Develop gender-responsive migration policies to address the particular needs and vulnerabilities of migrant women, girls and boys, which may include assistance, health care, psychological and other counselling services, as well as access to justice and effective remedies, especially in cases of sexual and gender-based violence, abuse and exploitation.
- Review relevant existing labour laws and work conditions to identify and effectively address workplace-related vulnerabilities and abuses of migrant workers at all skills levels, including domestic workers, and those working in the informal economy, in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, particularly the private sector.
- Account for migrant children in national child protection systems by establishing robust procedures for the protection of migrant children in relevant legislative, administrative and judicial proceedings and decisions, as well as in all migration policies and programmes that impact children, including consular protection policies and services, as well as cross-border cooperation frameworks, in order to ensure the best interests of the child are appropriately integrated, consistently interpreted and applied in coordination and cooperation with child protection authorities.
- Protect unaccompanied and separated children at all stages of migration through the establishment of specialized procedures for their identification, referral, care and family reunification, and provide access to health care services, including mental health, education, legal assistance and the right to be heard in administrative and judicial proceedings, including by swiftly appointing a competent and impartial legal guardian, as essential means to address their particular vulnerabilities and discrimination, protect them from all forms of violence, and provide access to sustainable solutions that are in their best interests.
- Ensure migrants have access to public or affordable independent legal assistance and representation in legal proceedings that affect them, including during any related judicial or administrative hearing, in order to safeguard that all migrants, everywhere, are recognized as persons before the law and that the delivery of justice is impartial and non-discriminatory.
- Develop accessible and expedient procedures that facilitate transitions from one status to another and inform migrants of their rights and obligations, so as to prevent migrants from falling into an irregular status in the country of destination, to reduce precariousness of status and related vulnerabilities, as well as to enable individual status assessments for migrants, including for those who have fallen out of regular status, without fear of arbitrary expulsion.
- Build on existing practices to facilitate access for migrants in an irregular status to an individual assessment that may lead to regular status, on a case by case basis and with clear and transparent criteria, especially in cases where children, youth and families are involved, as an option to reduce vulnerabilities, as well as for States to ascertain better knowledge of the resident population.
- Apply specific support measures to ensure that migrants caught up in situations of crisis in countries of transit and destination have access to consular protection and humanitarian assistance, including by facilitating cross-border and broader international cooperation, as well as by taking migrant populations into account in crisis preparedness, emergency response and post-crisis action.
- Involve local authorities and relevant stakeholders in the identification, referral and assistance of migrants in a situation of vulnerability, including through agreements with national protection bodies, legal aid and service providers, as well as the engagement of mobile response teams, where they exist.
- Develop national policies and programmes to improve national responses that address the needs of migrants in situations of vulnerability, including by taking into consideration relevant recommendations of the Global Migration Group Principles and Guidelines, Supported by Practical Guidance, on the Human Rights Protection of Migrants in Vulnerable Situations.