Blog post written by Jean Monnet Professor ad personam Elspeth Guild (QMUL), Kathryn Allinson (QMUL), Dr Tugba Basaran (Cambridge University), Dr Christina Oelgemoller (Loughborough University) and Professor Kees Groenendijk (Radboud University) and forms part of a series of blog posts examining the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

Paragraphs 40 – 54 of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) set out provisions on implementation, follow-up and review of the GCM. How does the GCM envisage these processes? What indicators might be able to help in examining progress with overall implementation, follow up and review?

Arrangements in the GCM

To start, the GCM acknowledges that implementation will require ‘concerted efforts’ at the global, regional, national and sub-national levels. It must be pursued in accordance with international law (including as a central component international human rights law). A capacity building mechanism under the UN will be created which consists of a connection hub that will provide advice, identify implementation partners, connect initiatives, ensure effective multi-agency and multi-stakeholder implementation,monitor effectiveness and identify funding sources. It will also establish a start up fund and a global knowledge platform.

An innovative aspect of implementation is found in Paragraph 44. The GCM’s implementation is planned to go far beyond formal state representatives at the international level. Instead it highlights that ‘concerted efforts’ for implementation are multi-stakeholder. States commit themselves to implementing the GCM in cooperation and partnership with migrants, civil society, migrant and diaspora organizations, faith-based organizations, local authorities and communities, the private sector, trade unions, parliamentarians, national human rights institutions, the ICRC, academia, the media and other relevant stakeholders. It is unusual in an international instrument that such an overt commitment to engaging with non-state actors is included, as is placing migrants so centrally in effective implementation This acknowledges the multifaceted role different stakeholders play in the protection and fulfilment of migrant’s rights.There is recognition that structures need to be in place that facilitate a collaborative and transparent approach avoiding duplication and confusion. This is an important opening for non-state and sub-state actors to take up the responsibilities allocated to them in taking forward the GCM.

IOM is to serve as coordinator and secretariat of the network. The Secretary General is to report to the UN General Assembly once every two years on implementation. State-led processes, including at global and regional levels are to play an important role. It will be very important, both at the state and regional levels (where there are strong regional organizations), that responsibility for implementation is shared among ministries and bodies who are directly involved with migration, border controls and integration.

As regards follow up and review, the GCM provides that states will review progress made at local, regional and global levels on implementation. A state-led approach is to be adopted with stakeholder participation. To achieve follow up and review intergovernmental measures will be taken. An existing UN body, the High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development is transformed into the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) and is to be the main platform for sharing progress on implementation (including coherence with the 2030 development agenda). It is to meet once every four years commencing in 2022, and at each meeting it is to produce an intergovernmentally agreed Progress Declaration. While once ever four years is not particularly frequent, this is a standard period for review at the UN level.

Emphasis is placed on the regional dimension. The UN Regional Economic Commissions or Regional Consultative processes are to review implementation in the regions from 2020. The Global Forum on Migration and Development is to provide space for annual information exchange on implementation and report findings, best practices and contribution to provision of relevant data, evidence, best practices, innovative approaches and recommendations concerning the GCM.

Member States are expected to develop ambitious national responses for implementation of the GCM, as well as, conducting regular and inclusive reviews of progress, such as, voluntary elaboration and uses of a national implementation plans. These reviews should include stakeholders as well as parliaments, local authorities and inform the state’s reporting to the IMRF.

Finally, the President of the General Assembly should conclude in 2019 an open, transparent and inclusive intergovernmental consultations on practical aspects of the modalities of the IMRF and the articulation of regional reviews and other relevant processes.


This is a comprehensive list of follow up activities to facilitate implementation of the GCM. The undertakings of states are multiple and structures will need to be put in place at national, sub-national and regional levels to ensure that the follow-up takes place in a timely and coherent manner, in accordance with the commitments states have made. Indicators to examine implementation and follow up can be categorised under a number of headings (following the order of their appearance in the GCM):

  • National responsibility: which actors and what oversight?
  • Sub-national responsibility: how to ensure that the relevant stakeholders are engaged?
  • Regional cooperation: are the structures sufficiently stable and coherent?
  • Transparency in the global implementation and review systems;
  • Resourcing implementation and review.

National Actors of Implementation, Follow Up and Review

The primary responsibility for border and migration issues in most states is the Home Affairs or Interior Ministries. Within the borders and migration sections, officials at a sufficiently senior level need to be allocated responsibility for ensuring that national legislation, circulars and practices are fully consistent with the GCM. These officials need to be charged with designing the national implementation strategies which the GCM calls for bearing in mind the commitment to inclusion of a wide range of stakeholders. The national implementation strategies must be published as soon as they are finalized. These officials also need to be charged with reporting to Parliaments on progress towards implementation of the GCM in accordance with the national implementation strategies. Parliamentary consideration of the reports must include an opportunity for Parliamentarians to debate the findings and to propose changes to the national implementation plan as necessary to fulfill the commitments of the state. This should include, at least in an Annex, information on the number and frequency of meetings with the different stakeholders (including the identity of the stakeholder and the category in which they fall), the issues discussed and outcomes.

Foreign and Development Ministries  need to be included in reporting on implementation to the regional and international bodies. Officials need to be allocated responsibility for working with their counterparts in the Home or Interior Minstries with a view to the implementation plans at the national level. They need to ensure  correct design of the implementation plan and have the necessary powers to put it into effect. There need to be reporting requirements on the Home and Interior Ministries and the reports need to be reviewed and complemented by the specified officials in the Foreign and Development Ministries and made publically available.

States need to include in the remit of their existing oversight bodies responsible for border management and migration review of the implementation of the GCM. For instance, in the UK that would be an Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Migration. These officials should be charged with reviewing the implementation plan of the Home Affairs or Interior Ministries and the achievement of the objectives. Similarly, existing national human rights bodies need to have their mandates widened to include  ensuring that the national implementation plan is consistent with the state’s human rights obligations. This is mandated by Para 44 GCM’s inclusion of national human rights institutions as stakeholders in implementation.

It is critical to the success of implementation and review at the national level that duties related to the GCM be integrated into existing national and sub-national structures. No new institutions should be needed or required to implement the GCM.

Sub-national Actors of Implementation and Review

Para 44 GCM provides for a wide range of sub-national actors to be engaged in the implementation and follow up of the GCM. Similarly, Para 53 requires that national progress reviews “should draw on contributions from all relevant stakeholders”. These include governmental actors such as local authorities and non-governmental organizations such as civil society, migrant and diaspora organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector, trade unions, the ICRC, academia, the media and other relevant stakeholders. All of these actors are identified in the GCM as relevant to achieving its objectives. Many of these actors will need financial support in order to carry out their roles under the GCM. Financial support for these activities could be allocated by regional bodies such as within the EU the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

In order to implement the GCM, the national implementation plan must include a detailed and specific section on engagement with these actors and the activities which they are expected to undertake as negotiated with them.  The role of each organization in implementation needs to be considered carefully. Many of these organisations will have an important part to play to ensure that implementation takes place in a manner consistent with the state’s human rights obligations in international law and the Compact’s express sommitmemtn to non-regression vis-à-vis applicable human rights standards. These organisations will assist the state to bridge the space between international human rights obligations and national practice. Some of these stakeholders will also be key in ensuring that there is an all-of-governance approach. Legal organisations will have a particular duty to ensure that the Compact’s role in aiding judicial interpretation of national law consistently with international obligations is fully developed. Governments’ political commitments make in the context of international engagements need to be correctly transposed into the interpretation of national law.

The plan needs to specify the resources which are to be made available to each sub-national actor to carry out GCM implementation activities. Each report to Parliament on implementation of the GCM should include, at least as an Annex, information on the financial and other support provided to these actors for their GCM implementation related activities.

Regional Cooperation

There are a wide range of regional cooperation bodies which have competences relating to the subject matter of the GCM. Every national implementation plan should include a section about the relevant regional bodies in which the state participates and in what way each regional body is relevant to the implementation of the GCM. States should encourage their relevant regional bodies to prepare GCM implementation plans as well and to report every four years to the regional executive body on activities taken to implement the GCM. In this context, the regional bodies should append to their reports those of all of their member states together with an analysis and summary of action taken. Regional oversight bodies, such as in the EU context: Frontex (the EU Coast and Border Guard) and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, should be required to include in their annual reports a summary of their GCM implementation related activities.  Where regional Parliamentary Assemblies exist, these reports should be submitted for consideration by these Parliamentary Assemblies and time set aside for the debate of the reports. The Parliamentary Assemblies should have power to make recommendations and require action should they consider this necessary for their institutions and bodies to better implement the GCM. Specific budget allocations need to be made to ensure that these activities are properly funded.

Transparency in Global Implementation and Review

The GCM calls for a number of UN and UN-related agencies to carry out activities regarding the implementation and review of the GCM. These include the newly established IMRF, the Global Forum on Migration and Development and the IOM and its bodies. The UN Special Representative for International Migration should be charged with preparing regular reports for the General Assembly on progress among the UN and UN related institutions regarding implementation and follow up of the GCM. These reports should include information on actual membership of the bodies, responsibilities for GCM related activities, budget lines and oversight mechanisms.

There will need to be regular review of the activities of these international actors regarding the achievement of the objectives of the GCM both from the development and human rights perspectives. To ensure that GCM implementation is consistent with international human rights law in a State-to-State manner, GCM implementation should be included as part of Universal Periodic Review of states as regards human rights. States should be required in their UPR reports to include a section on human rights and the implementation of GCM commitments in their state. This report should be included in the regular review of the state.

Resourcing Implementation and Review

Implementation of the GCM will require the investment of resources at the national, regional and international levels. Adequate resources are a key indicator of the good faith of states in implementation of their commitments. At the national, sub-national, regional and international levels the National Audit Offices, Courts of Auditors or similar relevant authorities should be charged with examining the GCM implementation plans, the regular reports of states and regional bodies where relevant and the UN bodies and to prepare a regular review of resource allocation, priorities for resources use and designated resource allocations in accordance with the GCM.


In this blog we have sought to identify the practical necessities to implement the GCM. Following the Compact itself the following are key:

  • Adoption of implementation plans at the national level with clear lines of responsibility in the Home Affairs and Ministries of Interior with name officials publicly responsible for ensuring implementation (Para 53);
  • Oversight of implementation plans by Parliaments and national oversight bodes including those responsible for human rights (Para 53);
  • National duties to report on implementation to Parliaments including the association of sub-national actors and civil society actors (Para 44);
  • National pressure for implementation of the GCM at regional level including action plans and report on implementation across the region (Para 50);
  • Transparency at the UN level regarding implementation of the GCM and the bodies responsible for its review;
  • Funding of GCM activities at the national, regional and international level in compliance with national, regional and international accounting bodies (Para 43).

The views expressed in this article belong to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of the Refugee Law InitiativeWe welcome comments and contributions to this blog – please comment below and see here for contribution guidelines.