IOM supports migrants across the world, developing effective responses to the shifting dynamics of migration, and advises on migration policy and practice. It builds capacity within governments to manage human mobility, and operates in development, emergency and humanitarian situations. 

The region covered by the Regional Office in Vienna features diverse economic, environmental, demographic, political, social and migratory contexts and trends.  Issues and challenges iden include demographic shifts, skills and labour gaps, human trafficking and stranded migrants, inadequate access to health care, environmental and climate change impacts, transitioning from ongoing and protracted conflicts to peace, preparing for and responding to emergencies, irregular migration, and return and reintegration, as well as unaccompanied and separated children. Opportunities include mainstreaming migration and development policies, labour mobility, diaspora engagement, the use of remittances for sustainable development, facilitating cross-border mobility through optimized border management and visa policies, and (green) investment. 

The strategic priorities for the region focus on addressing regional migration trends and challenges and are in line with broader development priorities. They are based on the IOM Strategic Vision and related IOM governance documents, such as the Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF) and the Migration Crisis Operational Framework (MCOF). The regional strategy draws on international instruments such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), in particular Target 10.7 to “facilitate orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”; and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. 

These priorities can be summarized as: 

Resilience: Empowering migrants and communities to prevent, mitigate and adapt to risks without compromising long-term prospects for sustainable development, and addressing drivers of migration, including adverse effects, such as environmental and climate change impacts, instability, poverty and exploitation;  

Mobility: Advancing positive, sustainable and innovative development outcomes that are responsive to skill shortages, return dynamic, environmental and climate change impacts, and other trends; 

Governance: Strengthening development through evidence-based and inclusive migration governance that addresses migration challenges, leverages opportunities and facilitates safe, orderly and regular migration. 

Read the full Regional Strategy 2020 – 2024


Supporting Migration Policy Development

With more than 70 years of operational experience, and regional oversight for 19 countries and Kosovo 1 staffed with over 1,600 personnel, IOM’s regional office is uniquely positioned to provide guidance on migration policy and programmes. IOM, as coordinator of the United Nations Network on Migration (UNNM) provides guidance on migration policies and legislation with the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) objectives,  the Sustainable Development Goals, national priorities and migration realities. IOM also encourages linkages between migration and other relevant policy areas, such as development and poverty reduction, demographic trends, health, labour, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. 

IOM provides the following assistance to governments: 

  • capacity-building to stakeholders involved in migration policy and legislation development; 
  • assistance in the establishment or reorganization of relevant governmental structures; 
  • legal research to support governments in acceding to and implementing international and regional instruments related to migration and migrants’ rights, including the EU acquis; 
  • technical review of draft legislation, policies and strategies to ensure consistency and to mainstream migration considerations; 
  • central coordination for regional and subregional cooperation; and 
  • technical advice and assistance in the development of new regional regulatory mechanisms and the alignment of national migration policies and legislation. 

To provide such support the Regional Office uses institutional tools which include: 

Regional Cooperation Dialogue and Research

The policy unit of the regional office in Vienna maintains information on the dozens of regional dialogues, integration processes, organizations and initiatives in SEEECA and provides support to country offices in formulating position papers and inputs when participating in these processes.   

Conducting its own research as well as commissioning studies from experts, the RO publishes reports on regional facts and trends, and engages with scholars, universities, thematic experts, other organizations and institutions to produce cutting-edge research, and to promote knowledge sharing among those working in the field of migration.  

The Regional Office in Vienna liaises with United Nations agencies and other international organizations based in the city. IOM is committed to strengthening its role in all migration-related discussions in the region to advance regional and bilateral cooperation between governments, as well as a regular dialogue on migration.  

Several inter-State consultation mechanisms on migration are active in the region and are important for shaping migration policy. Key opportunities for IOM in the region include the work with United Nations agencies and initiatives and processes led by Member States. These include: 

Global Compact for Migration and the UN Network

On 19 September 2016, and for the first time, Heads of State and Government came together to discuss, at the global level within the UN General Assembly, issues related to migration and refugees. In adopting the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, UN Member States recognized the need for a comprehensive approach to human mobility and enhanced cooperation at the global level. This led to the adoption of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) in 2018. 

The GCM is the first inter-governmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, covering all dimensions of international migration. It is designed to: 

  • support international cooperation on the governance of international migration; 
  • provide options for States to select policy options to address some of the most pressing issues around international migration; and 
  • give states the space and flexibility to pursue implementation based on their own migration realities and capacities. 

United Nations Network on Migration 

At the request of Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the United Nations established a Network on Migration (or Migration Network) in 2019 to ensure effective, timely and coordinated system-wide support to Member States in the implementation, follow-up and review of the Global Compact for Migration. The establishment of regional and national platforms to mirror the Migration Network will bring together stakeholders to improve cooperation on international migration, advancing the GCM and support supporting its follow-up and review.  

Regional Review Process 

The regional review is a requirement of the GCM, beginning in 2020 and taking place every four years, recognising that most international migration takes place within regions.  The Regional Review allows governments and stakeholders undertake an assessment of progress made, challenges and opportunities, and contributed to the body of evidence which informs IOM’s interventions with member states in the lead up to the International Migration Review Forum in 2022.  

For more information see Europe and North America – UNNM

UN Reform and Other Frameworks

As a member of the regional United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) and a core member of the Regional United Nations System Meeting for Europe and Central Asia (UNECE), IOM engages with and informs partners about developments in the area of migration, thus contributing to the UN Reform Process and its implementation.  

The Regional Office in Vienna is an active participant in several of the United Nations issue-based coalitions (IBCs) pioneered in this region: Health, Gender, Environment and Climate Change, and the Regional Coordination Group on Data and Statistics.  

Since 2019, RO Vienna is also the co-chair of the IBC on Large Movements of People, Resilience and Displacement (IBC LMPDR), together with UNHCR and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Furthermore, and in line with the ongoing United Nations Reform, the Regional Office will ensure migration is mainstreamed across the new United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks (UNSDCFs) – at the regional and national levels – and that migration is leveraged to support subregional and transboundary aspects which are highlighted as an important aspect of the United Nations Reform.  

The IBC LMPDR also serves as the Regional UN Network on Migration for the Europe and Central Asia region, serving the same 18 UN programme countries in this region. A dedicated knowledge sharing hub is managed by IOM and the co-chairs to support advancement at the national and sub-regional levels.   

Migration and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 

On 27 September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an ambitious, global framework to support sustainable development activities over the next 15 years. Migration is one of the core themes present in the 2030 Agenda both as an issue to act on, and a key enabler of sustainable development. This is creating numerous opportunities for IOM to use its leading role in the field of migration to inform government priorities and influence priorities of development partners, by developing timely and relevant programming in the field. The goal is to ensure that migration realises its full potential as a catalyst for inclusive growth and sustainable development, to make migrants agents of sustainable development and to ensure that sustainable development fosters the well-being and safety of migrants and of the communities to which they belong. 

Migration is included for the first time in the global development framework, recognizing well-managed migration’s integral role in and immense contribution to sustainable development. The SDGs are now driving policy planning and implementation across borders and across sectors, recognizing the interlinkages between migration and development and the fundamental contributions of migrants. 

Read more on migration, IOM and the Post-2015 development agenda