The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an
intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) or international organization is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other intergovernmental organizations. IGOs are established by a treaty that ...
that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and
migrant worker A migrant worker is a person who either Human migration, migrates within their home country or outside it to pursue work. Migrant workers usually do not have the intention to stay permanently in the country or region in which they work. Migran ...

migrant worker
s. In September 2016, IOM became a related organization of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for har ...
. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
. As of 2021, the International Organization for Migration has 173 member states and nine observer states. IOM is the principal intergovernmental organization working in the field of migration. IOM's stated mission is to promote humane and orderly migration by providing services and advice to governments and migrants. IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, be they refugees, displaced persons or other uprooted people. The IOM Constitution gives explicit recognition to the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development. IOM works in the four broad areas of migration management: migration and development, facilitating migration, regulating migration, and addressing forced migration. Cross-cutting activities include the promotion of international migration law, policy debate and guidance, protection of migrants’ rights, migration health and the gender dimension of migration. In addition, IOM has often organized elections for refugees out of their home country, as was the case in the 2004 Afghan elections and the 2005 Iraqi elections.


IOM was born in 1951 out of the chaos and displacement of Western Europe following the Second World War. It was first known as the Provisional Intergovernmental Committee for the Movement of Migrants from Europe (PICMME). Mandated to help European governments to identify resettlement countries for the estimated 11 million people uprooted by the war, IOM arranged transport for nearly a million migrants during the 1950s. The Constitution of the International Organization for Migration was concluded on 19 October 1953 in
Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern Italy, continental part, del ...
as the Constitution of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration. The Constitution entered into force on 30 November 1954 and the organization was formally established. The organization underwent a succession of name changes from PICMME to the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) in 1952, to the Intergovernmental Committee for Migration (ICM) in 1980, and finally, to its current name, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 1989; these changes reflect the organization's transition over half a century from an operational agency to a migration agency. While IOM's history tracks the man-made and natural disasters of the past half century— Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, Chile 1973, the Vietnamese Boat People 1975, Gulf War, Kuwait 1990, Kosovo War, Kosovo and East Timor#Independence, Timor 1999, and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, Asian tsunami, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, Pakistan earthquake of 2004/2005, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and the ongoing European migrant crisis—its credo that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society has steadily gained international acceptance. From its roots as an operational logistics agency, IOM has broadened its scope to become the leading international agency working with governments and civil societies to advance the understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration, and uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants. The broader scope of activities has been matched by rapid expansion from a relatively small agency into one with an annual operating budget of $1.8 billion and some 11,500 staff working in over 150 countries worldwide. As the "UN migration agency", IOM has become a main point of reference in the heated global debate on the social, economic and political implications of migration in the 21st century. IOM supported the creation of the Global Compact for Migration, the first-ever intergovernmental agreement on international migration which was adopted in Marrakech, Morocco in December 2018. To support the implementation, follow-up and review of the Global Compact on Migration, The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, established the UN Network on Migration. The secretariat of the UN Network on Migration is housed at IOM and the Director General of IOM, Antonio Vitorino, serves as the Network Coordinator.


The organisation of deportations to insecure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq is criticised. For example, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Watch, criticises IOM's participation in Australia's "Pacific Solution". On the Pacific island of Nauru, IOM operated the Nauru Detention Centre on behalf of the Australian government from 2002 to 2006, where Afghan boat refugees intercepted by the Australian military were imprisoned, including many families with children. Therefore, Amnesty International requests IOM to give assurances that it will abide by international human rights and refugee law standards; in particular to standards relating to arbitrary and unlawful detention, conditions of detention, and the principle of non-refoulement. The Human Rights Watch states their concerns that IOM has no formal mandate to monitor human rights abuses or to protect the rights of migrants, even though millions of people worldwide participate in IOM-sponsored programs.

Member states

As of 2021, the International Organization for Migration has 173 member states and 9 observer states. Member states: Observer States:


IOM X is a Communication for Development campaign operated by the International Organization for Migration in Bangkok, Thailand. The campaign's stated purpose is: "to encourage safe migration and public action to prevent human trafficking and exploitation in the Asia Pacific region." IOM X has worked on a range of issues related to exploitation and human trafficking, such as protecting men enslaved in the Thai fishing industry, the use of technology to identify and combat human trafficking, and end the sexual exploitation of children.

See also

* George Crennan, Director of the Federal Catholic Immigration Office in Australia from 1949 until 1995 * United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), also based (like IOM) in Geneva.


* Andrijasevic, Rutvica; Walters, William (2010): The International Organization for Migration and the international government of borders. In Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 28 (6), pp. 977–999. * Georgi, Fabian; Schatral, Susanne (2017): Towards a Critical Theory of Migration Control. The Case of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In Martin Geiger, Antoine Pécoud (Eds.): International organisations and the politics of migration: Routledge, pp. 193–221. * Koch, Anne (2014): The Politics and Discourse of Migrant Return: The Role of UNHCR and IOM in the Governance of Return. In Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 40 (6), pp. 905–923. DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2013.855073.


External links

* {{Authority control Migration-related organizations United Nations General Assembly observers Organisations based in Geneva United Nations organizations based in Geneva Intergovernmental organizations established by treaty Organizations established in 1951