As the “United Nations Agency for Migration,” IOM has become an important point in the lively global debate on the social, economic and political consequences of migration in the 21st century.  IOM supported the creation of the Global Compact for Migration, the first intergovernmental agreement on international migration, adopted in Marrakech, Morocco, in December 2018.  In order to support the implementation, monitoring and review of the Global Compact on Migration, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has set up the UN Migration Network. The secretariat of the UN Migration Network is based at IOM and IOM Director-General Antonio Vitorino is the network coordinator.  As part of the agreement, PAHO and IOM will focus on strengthening coordinated interventions to help U.S. countries combat health and migration, without leaving anyone behind. It will also ensure that the specific needs of migrants are more taken into account in health and development policies throughout the region, both in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The new agreement aims to improve access to health for these vulnerable populations and to help countries in the area of border health, including prevention and response to emergencies. In addition, actions will be strengthened in all sectors, including education, social assistance and protection, to better plan health interventions, with a short-, medium- and long-term vision.
The pact was adopted in December 2018. It is a non-binding agreement that provides a framework for government cooperation in the area of migration. In paragraph 45, it is expected that IOM will be the secretariat and coordinator of the new “Network of Non-Migration Nations” responsible for monitoring and reviewing the Pact`s commitments, and that it will support the implementation of these commitments, including capacity building. The term “related organization” does not appear anywhere in the text of the Charter of the United Nations. It is a generic term used to refer to any organization that has a cooperation agreement with the United Nations, but is not a special agency of the United Nations. Nevertheless, the UN-IOM agreement in many respects mimics the agreement between the United Nations and its specialized institutions, in accordance with Articles 57 and 63 of the UN Charter. The key difference is that a “specialized agency” is subject to the direct supervision of the General Assembly. “Migrants are among the most vulnerable populations in our region and face enormous obstacles in accessing the health care they need,” said Carissa F Etienne, Director of PAHO. “The Covid-19 pandemic is a clear reminder that no one is safe until everyone is safe, which is why this agreement between PAHO and IOM has never been more timely and important,” she added. An agreement similar to that reached between the United Nations and its other related organizations under the UN-IOM agreement explicitly maintains the independence and non-standard structure of the Organization: IOM “functions as an independent, autonomous and non-normal international organization in the working relationships established by this agreement with the United Nations.” It was this characteristic of the agreement that opened my reflection on IOM`s role as a secretariat in the Global Compact Agreement and its future place in international legal processes.