Review of the Migration Policy Development Program

3. Key findings: Success

3.1 Inter-Governmental Consultations on Asylum, Refugee and Migration Policies

Membership in IGC is administered through annual contribution agreements. At the request of participating states in 2004, the IGC Secretariat has developed a Management Plan annually that reports on key activities and finances for the previous year and the plans for the upcoming year. This plan is presented at the Mini-Full Round meetings [note 6]. The production of the Management Plan has increased the accountability of the forum.

Did the program deliver on its activities and outputs?

Document review and key informant interviews confirm that IGC has delivered on its key activities and outputs over the period under review. Key activities of the IGC can be grouped into management of the IGC, senior official meetings, expert and policy level meetings, data information sharing, and external liaison. Significant activity, led by International and Intergovernmental Relations, is undertaken within CIC and with the other government departments involved in preparation for meetings to ensure consistent messaging and a coordinated approach. A summary of the activities and outputs of the IGC is presented in the table below, with further details in Annex D.

Activity Outputs Comments
Management of IGC Steering Group Meetings Semi-Annual
Management Plan Annual since 2004
Other planning and strategy documents
  • IGC Strategic Review: An Outlook
  • An Assessment of Twenty Years
Other management documents
  • Duties and Responsibilities of Chairs of Working Groups and Workshops
  • Guidelines, Terms of Reference and Workplans for each Working Group and Workshop
As required
Senior Official Meetings IGC Full Round Meetings Annual
IGC Mini-Full Round Meetings Annual
Expert and Policy Level Meetings Working Groups (WG) Semi-Annual or Annual
  • Asylum/Refugees
Asylum WG expanded to include Refugees in 2006
  • Country of Origin Information
IRB is the lead participant for Canada.
  • Data
Following a review in 2007, this WG will meet on an as- and when-required basis.
CIC is the lead participant for Canada and has been chair since 2006.
  • Admission, Control, Enforcement
Replaced the Return and Smuggling WGs in 2006.
CBSA is the lead participant for Canada.
  • Return
Merged into Admission, Control and Enforcement WG
  • Smuggling
Merged into Admission, Control and Enforcement WG
  • Technology
  • Immigration and Integration
New WG established in 2007. May become two separate groups in future.
Workshops Approximately 4 – 5 per year.
Topics vary.
Chair’s Theme Workshop and Paper
Topics have included:
  • Promoting Circular Migration
  • Designing Effective Immigration Systems
  • Whole of Government Approach
  • Partnerships for Durable Solutions and Strategic Review of IGC
Chair selects a theme of interest typically resulting in a special topic workshop and a paper.
Data and Information Website: Contents: Restricted access.
  • Document repository, budget, management plan, event information, chairs of meetings, meeting summaries and other documentation
Extensive documentation. Contains current material and historical documents to 1993.
  • Contact List
Directory of current contacts
  • Newsletters
A quarterly newsletter (initially was monthly) is distributed to member states since 2006.
  • Requests
Results of ad hoc information requests sent by states to members of IGC.
  • Discussion forums: for all IGC themes: Admission, Control and Enforcement. Asylum / Refugees, Country of Origin Information, Data, Immigration, Integration, Technology
Not all are active.
  • State reports
Reports produced or commissioned by IGC participating states
  • Databases
Asylum statistics, asylum exclusion, migration statistics, return statistics, readmissions
  • Grey Book
Collection of 61 matrices that compare states’ policies and practices on asylum and migration. Asylum data is updated regularly.
External Advocacy Asylum / Migration Meetings IGC Secretariat attends meetings in other asylum and migration fora to represent IGC.

While key informants state that all significant activities or outputs have been achieved, some minor concerns have been expressed related to timeliness and value of some activities. Specifically:

  • The extended time required to initiate the new Working Group on Immigration and Integration.
  • Concerns have been expressed consistently over the level of effort to update the Grey Book in relation to its utility. A review of its value was initiated by the Steering Committee in 2006.
  • While the Data Working Group has expanded its mandate to include migration as well as asylum, the needs of IGC with respect to migration data are not yet defined.
  • The ad hoc information request process not fully utilized within CIC due to lack of awareness.
  • A Google Search Tool was piloted for the website and the contract was not renewed in 2007 as the benefits did not seem to justify the costs.
  • An internal CIC review of IGC and some interviewees report that awareness of IGC activities and information dissemination within CIC could be increased to more fully exploit the benefits of participation in this forum.

Interviewees report that Canada is viewed as a leader in this forum on specific issues such as skilled worker selection, integration, and immigration research. Canada has taken an active role in IGC over the years, with the following key activities:

  • In 2004 – 05 Canada initiated the first ever Strategic Review of the IGC in response to concerns over its usefulness. The purpose of the Review was to identify the strategic and tactical priorities of the IGC over the next five years and to examine the governance structure. This significant activity resulted in a number of changes including a broadened focus of the IGC to issues related to immigration and integration and the merging of two WGs and establishment of the Working Group on Immigration and Integration.
  • Canada chaired the IGC in 2004.
  • Canada has been the chair of the Data Working Group since 2006 and led the review of its mandate.
  • Canada chaired the Smuggling WG from 2004 to 2006.
  • Canada has chaired several workshops such as Points-based Selection Systems (2006), Partnerships for Durable Solutions (2005), and Effective Protection (2004).

Did the program achieve its stated results?

IGC primarily contributes to one of the key results identified by the MPDP: to encourage the exchange of information among states. This is reflected directly in the mandate of the IGC, which is:

“To provide a forum for participating States, international organizations and the European Commission to exchange information on refugee, asylum and migration issues in an informal, confidential and non-binding way.” [ note 7]

The following findings from the document review and interviews demonstrate the types of information sharing occurring and illustrate the benefits of the sharing of information.

  • Full Round and Mini-Full Round meetings are closed door sessions, which encourage frank, open sharing of information. Debate and discussion are reported as substantive. Membership provides policy and operational information not readily obtained by other means.
  • Relationships and network of contacts are developed through membership which facilitates information sharing outside of meeting fora. IGC helps establish and maintain bilateral working relationships with individual European countries.
  • Provides Canada with access to current views and thinking of the European Union members and other countries. The IGC provides a privileged access point to information on EU discussion and policies that informs Canada’s own position.
  • Canada is more informed and effective in other international fora as a result of participation in IGC.
  • WGs share more technical policy and program information. The Country of Origin WG (with IRB participation) has been described as a “valuable research and information tool for IRB decision making”. It is particularly active in terms of sharing research and identifying research gaps and participating in an on-line discussion forum. Teleconferences have been held to share information on specific countries such as Iran, Congo, and China.
  • Data and information exchange amongst members extends beyond meetings. Over 140 Canadian officials from eight departments and agencies [note 8] are registered for access to the restricted website.  The number of information requests through IGC members has been increasing in recent years and Canada itself initiates one to two requests per year.
  • Canada is more informed and effective in formulating domestic policy. CIC and OGDs learn from others’ experiences and this is reported to translate into the selection of ‘best practices’ in policy and program development. This type of information is often not widely shared as lessons learned are rarely openly discussed in more formal meetings or documented.

3.2 Regional Conference on Migration

Canada’s membership in RCM is administered through annual contribution agreements. Key meetings occur at three levels: vice-ministerial, key experts, and technical level through Liaison Officer Networks (LONs). An Action Plan was developed in 1997 which defines the themes objectives, joint actions, and a schedule of implementation. The Action Plan is updated periodically. The current version outlines three thematic areas of activity for the Conference to pursue through seminars, consultations, and further research and communication:

  • Migration Policies and Management
  • Human Rights
  • Link between Migration and Development

The two Liaison Officer Networks (Combat Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons and Consular Protection) maintain a work plan, each approved by the Vice Ministers, outlining specific activities and dates for completion.

Did the program deliver on its activities and outputs?

Document review and key informant interviews find that the RCM has delivered on its key activities and outputs over the period under review.

Key activities can be categorized under: management of the RCM, consultations, seminars and workshops, communication and exchange of information, consensus initiatives, and participation in external fora. Significant activity, led by International and Intergovernmental Relations, is undertaken within CIC and with the other government departments involved in preparation for meetings to ensure consistent messaging and a coordinated approach. No evidence was found of any significant outputs not being delivered. A summary of the activities and outputs of the RCM are presented in the table below with details in Annex E.

Activity Outputs Comments
Management of RCM Plan of Action Updated periodically
Liaison Officer Networks Work Plans Updated periodically
Activity and Financial Report of the RCM Technical Secretariat Semi-annual
Other management documentation
  • Glossary of the Regional Conference on Migration
  • The Regional Conference on Migration (RCM) or Puebla Process (pamphlet, April 2005)
  • RCM Process Poster
  • “Strengthening the Puebla Process Eight Years After its Creation”, a framework for the operation of the RCM
Consultations Vice Ministerial Meeting
Declaration and Decisions of Vice Ministerial Meeting
Regional Consultation Group on Migration – Technical Meeting
Conclusions and Recommendations
Liaison Officer Networks Semi-annual
  • Liaison Officer Network on Consular Protection (LONCP)
CIC is the Canadian lead for this network
  • Liaison Officer Network to Combat Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons (LONST)
CBSA is the Canadian lead for this network
Seminars Variety of training, workshops and seminars on various topics See Annex E for topics and dates
Communication, Exchange of Information Public Website:
  • RCM Description and membership
  • Plan of Action
  • Declaration and decisions of Vice Ministerial Meeting
  • Seminar list, dates and presentation material
  • Links to related research
  • Regional Network for Civil Organizations on Migration (RNCOM): list of NGOs, presentations and declarations
Extensive documentation available publicly. Information is current.
Restricted access website for member countries
Content not on public site:
  • Meetings and events information, registration, agenda, and related documentation
  • Liaison Officer Network to Combat Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking related information
  • Working Group on Migration and Health documents
  • Outreach presentations and reports
  • Projects
  • Contacts for all member countries, NGOs, RCM secretariat, international organizations, emergency contact for migrant smuggling
  • Discussion fora
  • Links to statistics
  • Alerts from member countries
Restricted access.
Majority of content is current
Working Group on Migration and Health and Outreach information is not as current (2005) however country contacts are maintained, although it is an incomplete listing (due to some member countries not submitting their contact information).
Outreach documents are current, to the extent that they are still used and no decision to replace them has been made;
External Engagement RCM representation at meetings, events President Pro-Tempore and Coordinator of the Technical Secretariat represent RCM in a range of forums

In addition to the above, special initiatives or projects are undertaken by the RCM. Some of the significant initiatives include:

  • Fund to Assist the Return of Migrants in Particularly Vulnerable Situations:
    A surplus in the RCM budget accumulated by 2005 resulted in a proposal to use the fund for humanitarian purposes. Guidelines were developed to fund migrants in vulnerable situations (women, unaccompanied minors, etc.) to return to their home countries up to a maximum of $1,000 per person. Following a pilot period, the fund was made permanent in 2006. It is managed by IOM with oversight by the Technical Secretary. Canada has been contributing US$15,000 (or 25%, the same formula as the RCM budget) to the total fund of US$60,000.
  • Essentials of Migration Management:
    Canada and to a lesser extent Australia funded the development of a training module and a companion Trainer’s Guide which was developed by IOM. The module was intended to provide a common instructional and reference framework for structured independent or group study of migration concepts, policies and operational matters. The target audiences included government policy makers, practitioners, students, academics, humanitarian workers, NGOs, and other international organizations. The module is available in English and Spanish, with Mexico funding the Spanish translation.
  • Guidelines:
    Guidelines are occasionally developed and approved by the Vice Ministers such as Regional Guidelines for the Special Protection in Cases of the Repatriation of Child Victims of Trafficking and Guidelines for the Establishment of Multilateral and Bilateral Mechanisms among the RCM Member Countries on the Topic of the Return of Regional Migrants by Land.
  • Statistical Information System for Mesoamerican Migration (SIEMMES):
    This database was funded by some countries within RCM and developed by IOM. It was transferred to the University of Costa Rica for further development and maintenance.

Canada has taken a very active role in RCM in recent years:

  • Canada held the position of President Pro-Tempore in 2005.
  • A CIC employee was selected for the position of Coordinator of the Technical Secretariat and held the position from 2004 to 2007.
  • CIC and CBSA regularly support training through its development and delivery and providing support for attendance by other countries. Many other government departments have supported initiatives as well, including CIDA, HRSDC and PHAC.

Did the program achieve its stated results?

RCM contributes to two of the three results outlined by the MPDP: to encourage the exchange of information among states, and to a lesser extent, to contribute to public discussion in this field.

Exchange of information among states

Exchange of information among states is the primary purpose of the RCM and is reflected in the first of the three published tenets of the RCM:

  • “To create a forum for frank and honest discussion on regional migration issues, leading to greater regional coordination and cooperation.
  • To make efforts to find a balance between the protection of the human rights of migrants and countries’ need to uphold the safety and security of its nationals.
  • To seek convergence with other processes.” [note 9]

The following findings from the document review and interviews demonstrate the types and benefits of information sharing:

  • Vice Ministerial, RCGM and LON meetings are closed door sessions, which encourage informal, open sharing of information.
  • Members-only website is used to share time-sensitive published information related to recently implemented security measures.
  • A network of contacts and relationships are developed through attendance which facilitates information sharing and cooperation outside of meeting fora. This is particularly critical following changes in governments in other countries that can result in significant turnover in public officials.
  • Canada has been able to promote its perspectives on migration and influence program and policy development. Examples include technical assistance to legislation and policy development to the governments of Panama and Costa Rica, and seasonal worker policies between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
  • RCM is reported to be contributing to a closer relationship with Mexico and improved understanding of the Canadian position on migration management.
  • DFAIT has identified areas they wish to provide additional technical assistance or capacity building to countries in the region using other program funds.
Public discussion

RCM contributes to public discussion of migration issues; however this occurs primarily outside of Canada. RCM publishes many of its documents and declarations on a publicly available website. In addition, RCM has made efforts to recognize and involve civil society in the process. The Regional Network of Civil Organizations for Migration (RNCOM) participates in specific agenda items at meetings. The umbrella organization, the Canadian Council for Refugees is a member of RNCOM. RNCOM issues a parallel declaration following the Vice Ministerial Meetings which is published on the RCM website. Reportedly, media interest and coverage in Central American countries is high during Vice-Ministerial meetings, however this does not appear to carry over into Canada.

Other results

An additional result related to capacity building is achieved through participation in RCM. The provision of technical assistance, seminars, training and other capacity building activities has strengthened the region’s migration policies and programs. A series of training sessions have been held on topics such as the detection of fraudulent documents and interview techniques. Support has been provided for legislation and policy development in a number of countries in the region including Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua.

3.3 Migration Policy Institute

Contribution to the MPI is administered through an annual Contribution Agreement (CA). Specific activities to be completed are identified in the CA, which have expanded over the period under review as funding increased.

Did the program deliver on its activities and outputs?

The Government of Canada is one of many contributors to the activities of MPI. Only in some cases is the direct contribution of a country to a specific event or publication noted. Unless otherwise noted, the following outputs are common across many contributors. Broadly, MPI has delivered upon its activities and outputs with the exception of two annual roundtables which, while planned, are reported to be behind schedule. In addition to the formal outputs, MPI is reported to provide access to migration related intelligence and issues in key countries including the US, EU and Mexico through the networks and contacts of MPI staff.

The table below identifies the key activities outlined in the CA and some of the related outputs.

Activity Outputs Comments
Link with and share research results with CIC on migration policy Publications See Annex F
Website contains links to MPI publications and related research on:
  • National Centre on Immigrant Integration Policy
  • US Immigration
  • European Migration
  • Migration and development
  • Refugee protection
Hardcopy of all publications sent to CIC
Organize informal discussion sessions to look at the positive aspects of international migration Meetings, events, roundtables, public breakfast Various events
Influence the international community to consider themselves as countries of migration in order to manage migration more effectively Publications Various publications – See Annex F
Task Forces, Events, Conferences, Meetings  
Provide a mechanism for forward-looking discussions on migration issues among senior officials, experts and opinion leaders from several countries Roundtables  
Task Forces  
Organize at least two round-table discussions for senior CIC management during the funding period, on topics related to international migration Roundtable Discussions
  • One held in 2006/07
  • Roundtables for 2007/08 delayed due to scheduling challenges
New activity included in contribution agreement since 2006/07
Make senior MPI staff available for advice or consultations to Canadian policy experts, within mutually agreeable timeframes Meetings, discussions Periodic meetings and discussions
Lead Transatlantic and North American discussions on migration Transatlantic Task Force on Migration Forums
  • launched March 2007


  • See Annex F for details
New activity included in CA since 2006/07
CIC identified specifically as a contributor
To be replaced with a permanent Council

Did the program achieve its stated results?

MPI contributes directly to two of the three results outlined by the MPDP: to promote an increase in research activity on migration issues and to contribute to public discussion in this field.

Research activity

MPI’s main activities relate to analysis and research related to migration, as articulated by MPI:

“The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think-tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide.”

MPI research is published on its website as well as in hard copy. Annex F contains a partial list of the wide range of research and publications produced by the MPI over the five year period.

Public discussion

MPI contributes to public discussion through the following activities:

  • Wide range of information, analysis and research readily available on its website free of charge;
  • Electronic newsletter available monthly; and
  • Media tools available.
Other results

MPI is reported to contribute to the policy analysis and discussion within CIC. MPI has extensive analytical capacity and senior researchers are considered thought leaders on migration issues. MPI also provides Canada with access to migration related intelligence and issues of key countries including the US, EU and Mexico which informs Canadian policy positions.


[6] Mini-Full Round meetings are held once a year to discuss immediate issues and to coordinate activities.

[7] IGC Management Plan 2004 and 2005.

[8] CIC, IRB, CBSA, DFAIT, Public Safety, CIDA, Passport Canada, and CRA.

[9] The Regional Conference on Migration (RCM) or Puebla Process, Pamphlet, April 2005.

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