December 4, 2012

SVG becomes 147th member of International Organisation for Migration

St Vincent and the Grenadines became the 147th member of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Switzerland last Tuesday.{{more}}

The application for membership was approved with the unanimous support of IOM member states.

The Organisation, which is headquartered in Geneva, focuses on fostering dialogue and cooperation among the international community on major issues pertaining to migration.

These issues include the treatment of migrant workers, counter trafficking-in-persons and the reintegration of deportees and refugees into their native societies.

La Celia A. Prince, SVG’s ambassador to the United States and permanent representative to the Organisation of American States, represented SVG at the Council of the IOM.

In her statement to the council following SVG’s admission, Prince thanked the membership for their favourable consideration of the application.

She noted that migration is fundamental to the existence of SVG, as evidenced by the approximate 1:5 ratio of Vincentians living in country to those in the diaspora.

In this respect, Prince stated that it is the goal of the Government of SVG to design policies which can help leverage the potential of its substantial diaspora in advancing the country’s development, through appropriate use of remittances, as well as the investments and knowledge transfer derived from the diaspora.

The ambassador also mentioned the challenges brought on by migration and the responsibilities thrust upon the government.

She mentioned the need to allocate human and financial resources for protecting the country’s borders from human trafficking cells operating within the Latin America and Caribbean sub-region.

She further spoke of the treatment of Vincentian migrant citizens abroad; the challenge of absorbing and reintegrating deportees — particularly those with criminal antecedents — into the society; and the repatriation of deportees’ assets.

Prince praised the work of the IOM and the indirect assistance received from them through the United States Department of State and the OAS, adding that their input was invaluable in shaping the policy framework which informed the anti-trafficking in persons’ law, passed by the Vincentian parliament in September 2011.

In responding to the ambassador’s statement, Director General of the IOM Ambassador William Lacy Swing congratulated the policies of the government of SVG to incorporate the diaspora as essential stakeholders in nation-building, and offered technical expertise and other assistance of the IOM to help the government enhance its policies geared at harnessing and leveraging the potential of the diaspora to develop the country.

He further stated that SVG would be invited in the early part of 2013 to participate in a ministerial conference on the diaspora, which the IOM will host in Geneva.

Besides SVG, the only other country whose application for membership satisfied all requirements on time for accession to membership at this council meeting was Myanmar.

These two bring the total IOM membership to 148.