International Organization for Migration

International Organization for Migration
Organisation internationale pour les migrations
Organización Internacional para las Migraciones
Formation 1951
Type Intergovernmental organization
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
165 member states and 8 observer states (over 80 global and regional IGOs and NGOs are also observers)
Official languages
English, French and Spanish
Director General
William Lacy Swing
US$1.675 billion (2013)[1]

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an intergovernmental organization that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. As of September 2016, it became a related organization of the United Nations. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) to help resettle people displaced by World War II. As of June 2016, the International Organization for Migration has 165 member states and 8 observer states.[3][4]

It is the principal intergovernmental organization 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[5] gives explicit recognition to the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development, as well as to the right of freedom of movement of persons.

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 works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners.


IOM, or as it was first known, the Provisional Intergovernmental Committee for the Movement of Migrants from Europe (PICMME), was born in 1951 out of the chaos and displacement of Western Europe following the Second World War.

Mandated to help European governments to identify resettlement countries for the estimated 11 million people uprooted by the war, it 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 as the Constitution of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration. The Constitution entered into force on 30 November 1954 and the organization was formally born.

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 to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 1989; these changes reflect the organization's transition over half a century from a logistics 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, Kuwait 1990, Kosovo and Timor 1999, and the Asian tsunami, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Pakistan earthquake of 2004/2005 and the 2010 Haiti earthquake—its credo that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society has steadily gained international acceptance.

From its roots as an operational logistics agency, it has broadened its scope to become the leading international agency working with governments and civil society 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 $1.3 billion and some 8,400 staff working in over 100 countries worldwide.

As "The Migration Agency" IOM has become the point of reference in the heated global debate on the social, economic and political implications of migration in the 21st century.[6]

Member states

Purple: member states
Blue: observer states

As of June 2016, the International Organization for Migration has 165 member states and 8 observer states.

Member states:[3]

Observer States:[4]


  1. "IOM Snapshot" (PDF). International Organization for Migration. July 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 5, 2015.
  3. 1 2 "Member States". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 3 Nov 2014.
  4. 1 2 "Observer States". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 3 Nov 2014.
  6. "History". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 3 Nov 2014.
  7. "Migration group approves move to join United Nations system". Salon. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
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