The Caribbean has witnessed numerous waves of migration throughout history. Region wide, economic stagnation, limited job opportunities, and natural disasters such as floods, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and earthquakes, have been important push and pull factors in the Caribbean, able to cause large and unforeseen migration flows.
Even though governments and international organizations such as the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), have contributed to the promotion of regular and safe migration, the needs for capacity-building, knowledge-sharing and data collection on migration ̶ just to name just a few ̶ remain a challenge. The region shares a number of similar migration issues, therefore, the success in overcoming these problems will depend on government’s consistency in working in collaboration to improve such challenges in the Caribbean region.
In order to assist in this endeavor and with the clear purpose of empowering governments as well as their existing migration governance capacities and policies, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), under the PACTA project and funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration; developed the Regional Report on Migration Governance in the Island States of the Commonwealth Caribbean. A report that presents a background of ten countries of the region, through concrete evidence and data, combined with the inputs of regional stakeholders to provide a larger perspective on opportunities for improvement in regional governance and cooperation. Furthermore, it offers actionable recommendations on how to best minimize the potential risks of migration, while maximizing its economic and development benefits.
The study revealed that in order to implement effective migration governance practices in these ten countries of the region, governments need to:
1. Collect data on the growing trends of intraregional migration, as well as data on migrant populations, both regular and irregular.
2. Implement a comprehensive migration approach, aligned with international standards and national development strategies.
3. Strengthen coastal surveillance to manage irregular migration appropriately, improving application of strategies in the areas of border management, national security and the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations.
4. Collect data on the impact of mobility regimes and programs to obtain citizenship through investment schemes.
5. Enhance collective action on disaster management and development of more comprehensive mechanisms to mitigate and manage the consequences of environmental hazards.
6. Strengthen legislation and protocols related to the fight against trafficking and improving the capacity to generate effective responses, as none of the ten countries has yet ratified all the nine-core international human rights treaties. Countries would benefit from adjusting their legislation to consistently reflect the core principles of international instruments, and from strengthening regional coordination efforts, including the standardization of protocols and practices to address various migration-related issues.
7. Adopt mechanisms to guarantee migrants' access to medical care and improvement of detection protocols in Border Crossing Points (BCPs).
8. Collect data on circular migration (repetitive and temporal migration between two places) and labour mobility, as well as the effect of migration on labour supply and demand.
9. Review of legislation to guarantee universal access to education for migrant children of compulsory school age.
In the process of addressing these gaps, it is important that governments, not only make efforts to improve governance systems for migration, but also that the international community recognizes the complexities of the subregion and understands the need to adapt the guidelines and frameworks to the realities of each of these States. The IOM looks forward to working with the Caribbean region to address capacity limitations and realize the potential highlighted in this report.
The Regional Report on Migration Governance in the Island States of the Commonwealth Caribbean is now published in the Caribbean Migration portal of the CMC, and can be accessed here.