In this exclusive interview, Amy Pope, the new Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), shares her vision and priorities for her tenure.
Pope, who previously served as U.S. President Joe Biden’s top advisor on migration policy, is determined to convince the world that migration is a positive and transformative process for communities.
Through her experience and leadership, she seeks to establish strategic partnerships with governments and the private sector to encourage safe and legal migration.
Priorities for her mandate
As IOM’s new Director General, Amy Pope has identified three main priorities for her mandate. First, she is focused on addressing population displacement caused by climate change. In the Horn of Africa, for example, there are already more people displaced by climate than by conflict. Pope stresses the importance of understanding and addressing this emerging challenge.
Second, Pope focuses on creating safe routes for migration. He recognizes that vulnerable people are more likely to turn to traffickers to seek opportunities in other countries. This not only puts migrants at risk, but also puts pressure on wages in host communities. Therefore, it is critical to work on establishing legal and safe pathways for migration.
Thirdly, the IOM Director General highlights the importance of partnership with the private sector. She recognizes that businesses play a crucial role in the recruitment of migrants and advocates for their active involvement in promoting migration through legal channels. This involves investing in training and ensuring that people have access to legal migration opportunities.
Migration as opportunity
Amy Pope strongly advocates that migration is an opportunity for both migrants and countries of origin and destination. Throughout history, human beings have migrated in search of new opportunities and this has proven to be beneficial both economically and socially.
IOM’s Director General is determined to work with governments, civil society and the private sector to demonstrate how migration can work and counter the negative narrative that criminalizes it. Through evidence and data, she seeks to persuade countries and public opinion that migration is an engine of development and community transformation.
Overcoming criminalization and challenges
Despite the growing number of migratory movements around the world, migration continues to be criminalized by some governments, media and sectors of society. Amy Pope recognizes this challenge and seeks to reverse this negative narrative.
The IOM Director General stresses the importance of educating society about the benefits of migration and promoting inclusive migration policies. She stresses that technology and artificial intelligence cannot compensate for the loss of workers faced by many countries due to population aging.
It is therefore essential to recognize and harness the benefits of migration to address this demographic challenge.
IOM and governments working together
IOM works closely with governments to establish appropriate and effective migration policies. Amy Pope commends the Government of Spain for its proactive approach in studying its labor market needs and collaborating with the private sector and other countries to facilitate legal labor migration. She stresses the importance of replicating this approach around the world, especially in aging economies such as Japan and South Korea.
For this reason, the IOM Director General stresses the need to identify and promote legal avenues of access to labor opportunities for migrants. This not only benefits migrants, but also host communities by ensuring orderly and safe migration.
Externalization of asylum and IOM’s position
In recent years, some countries have proposed outsourcing asylum application processes and have entered into agreements with other countries to manage migration flows. Amy Pope recognizes that this trend raises challenges and concerns.
IOM Director General stresses the importance of ensuring that countries respect the human rights of migrants and do not put undue pressure on them. The outsourcing of asylum processes should be carefully evaluated to ensure that it meets international standards and does not put migrants at risk.
Improving detention centers and human rights
IOM is involved in controversial projects, such as the upgrading of detention centers in Libya, a country denounced for human rights violations against migrants. Amy Pope acknowledges that there are challenges and ethical dilemmas associated with such projects.
The IOM Director General emphasizes that the organization’s goal is to ensure that people who are returned to their countries of origin do so in safe and dignified conditions. She recognizes that some migrants are victims of mistreatment in detention centers and is committed to strengthening IOM’s response and protection in these cases.
Prioritizing Human Rights in Migration Management
When it comes to countries like Libya, Amy Pope highlights the need to balance human rights with border policies and migration management. While governments have the ability to set their migration policies, IOM has the responsibility to assess what is best for each individual and ensure their safety and well-being.
IOM’s Director General recognizes that making decisions in these cases is not easy, as the lives and well-being of human beings are at stake. The organization is committed to finding solutions that respect the human rights of migrants and address the complex challenges associated with migration management.
In summary, Amy Pope, the new Director General of IOM, has as her main objective to promote migration as an engine of community transformation. Through her leadership, she seeks to establish strategic partnerships with governments and the private sector to encourage migration through legal and safe channels.
In addition, it strongly advocates that migration is an opportunity for both migrants and countries of origin and destination. Although there are challenges and ethical dilemmas associated with managing migration, IOM is committed to prioritizing human rights and ensuring the safety and well-being of migrants.
The interview with Amy Pope provides valuable insight into the importance of addressing migration challenges from a holistic and human rights-based perspective. Through collaboration between governments, civil society and the private sector, it is possible to promote effective migration policies and ensure that migration benefits all stakeholders.