Established in 1951, IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners.
With 146 member states, a further 98 observers including 13 States and 85 global and regional IGOs and NGOs and and more than 440 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so 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, including refugees and internally displaced people.
The IOM Constitution recognizes the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development, as well as to the right of freedom of movement.
IOM works in the four broad areas of migration management:
- Migration and development
- Facilitating migration
- Regulating migration
- Forced migration.
IOM activities that cut across these areas include the promotion of international migration law, policy debate and guidance, protection of migrants' rights, migration health and the gender dimension of migration.
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.
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 to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 1989, reflects the organization's transition over half a century from logistics agency to 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 and Pakistan earthquake of 2004/2005 - 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 close to $1 billion and some 5,400 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.
IOM in Central and South-Eastern Europe
IOM is present in Central and South-Eastern Europe since the beginning of the 1990s. Since then, IOM has extended its activities to all the countries in the region.
IOM’s programmatic response in the last years has been inspired by the two significant political processes in recent European history which continue to have immense consequences for the countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe: first, the consolidation of independent states after the break-up of Yugoslavia, and secondly, the EU enlargement process towards the East, which has become an overarching political objective for all countries of the region. These political changes will continue to have a significant economic and social impact across Central and South-Eastern Europe, largely affecting migratory flows - regular and irregular - to, within, and from the countries in the region.
While the countries of Central Europe have achieved EU membership as of May 2004, the EU has further expanded in 2007 to incorporate Bulgaria and Romania. Furthermore, the governments of the EU member states have agreed to extend the EU perspective to other countries in South Eastern Europe. Thus Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are formal candidate countries, while all the others are potential candidates. Migration issues are a top priority when it comes to EU integration and, and this is reflected in the EU’s policies in the areas of Justice, Liberty and Security as well as Enlargement and External Relations.
Throughout years, IOM has helped Governments in this region - through continued capacity building - to manage migration flows, focusing its direct assistance activities on areas of voluntary return and counter-trafficking. In more recent times, a wide variety of migration issues - ranging from the implementation of integrated border management to labour migration, integration of third-country nationals and migration and development - are acquiring increasing importance within IOM’s actions.
To meet the growing and complex migration challenges in Central and South-Eastern Europe IOM has sought to ensure a comprehensive, coherent, and balanced approach. For the upcoming years IOM’s primary objective is to act in full partnership with migrants, Governments and national and international partners towards strengthening regional cooperation and harmonizing standards in all key migration-related areas, while addressing new trends and challenges in this area.
In 1991, Hungary became a member state of IOM and the following year, the organization established its office in Budapest. Since the signature of the agreement between IOM and the Hungarian Government (7 April 1992), the IOM Mission enjoys diplomatic status. Throughout the 1990s IOM has managed numerous projects in the fields of counter-trafficking, migration and health, assisted voluntary return and assistance to migrants in transit and run several public information campaigns on migration issues in Hungary.
The IOM office in Hungary has been actively involved in building capacity of the Hungarian government to manage migration issues through training, organizing regional and international exchange programmes, conferences and research projects. IOM Budapest has also established partnerships with a number of relevant non-governmental organizations assisting migrants and victims of trafficking in Hungary.
From November 2000 to July 2011, IOM Budapest functioned as a “Mission with Regional Functions” (MRF). First providing direct support, supervision and assistance to IOM’s missions in the Central European region, the regional functions of the office in Budapest were then expanded to include IOM missions in South-Eastern Europe. MRF Budapest therefore not only ensured the effective sharing of core resources and expertise between the Field Offices under its responsibility but also a consistent approach in important areas such as project development and the application of administrative and operational policies and procedures throughout the Organization.
Currently, IOM Budapest is the Country Mission for Hungary.