Type of practice:
Over the last almost 30 years, the Budapest Process (BP) has become recognised by its participating states as an excellent tool for identifying and addressing evolving migration challenges. The BP’s participating states make it unique in that it is the only dialogue dedicated to migration between Europe and West, South and Central Asia, including many countries of migration origin, transit, and destination in the world. In 2010, the BP underwent its third expansion, marking a geographic refocus to include participating and observer states from the Silk Routes region, comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan. In the 10 years since this geographic and strategic expansion, three major projects have supported Silk Routes countries and it is based on this successful cooperation that the Silk Routes partnership has received robust political support in inter-ministerial conferences in 2013 and 2019, wherein the ‘Call for Action’ was developed and endorsed, and implementation plans developed and pursued.
The 2019 Istanbul Declaration and its Call for Action lays out six priority goals that align with several GCM objectives:
1. Prevent and counteract irregular migration, facilitate return and readmission of irregular migrants, and combat criminal networks involved in smuggling of migrants (GCM 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, 21)
2. Better organise and improve conditions for legal migration and mobility (GCM 5, 6, 18)
3. Support the integration of migrants and counteract phenomena of discrimination, racism and xenophobia (GCM 16, 17, 22)
4. Strengthen the positive impact of migration on development, both in countries of origin and of
destination (GCM 5, 6, 19, 20)
5. Prevent and combat trafficking in persons, address its root causes and provide adequate protection and
support to trafficked persons (GCM 2, 7, 10, 11, 12)
6. Promote international protection and the respect of the rights of refugees in line with international
standards (GCM 4, 5, 7, 14, 15, 22)
- The above listed Priority Goals have several specific Action Points under each of them. The whole list can be seen here.
- GCM 1, 3, 23 are cross cutting and can be applied to all of the above.
Ø Tangible progress towards these goals is achieved through activities of the BP dialogue and the various on-ground projects under the BP umbrella (see next section).
Ø Moreover, the BP dialogue component provides a time- and cost-efficient way for states and other stakeholders to strengthen their networks. This is especially important for small or less developed participating countries, or those that have few other multilateral forums for engagement, such as the Western Balkans and Silk Routes countries. Improved networks facilitate everyday cooperation between states. They can also facilitate formal bilateral and regional state cooperation and the development of common regional positions and cooperation on an issue. Furthermore, the appointing of national focal points for the Budapest Process in each participating country provides for an efficient manner in which cooperation is effectuated.
Benefit and Impact
o “Improving Migration Management in the Silk Routes Countries” (2017 – 2021), which enhances migration governance and mobility through concrete initiatives such as the establishment of Migrant Resource Centres (for provision of information to migrants); capacity-building instruments for provision of demand driven technical assistance; provision of a broad range of expertise and services to ensure better protection of migrant workers and catalysing regional law enforcement cooperation
o “Integrated Border Management in the Silk Routes Countries” (2019-2022), which seeks to support the countries in the region in building more effective and efficient integrated border management (IBM) systems.
These projects and their successful outcomes have strengthened the engagement with Silk Routes countries, thereby building trust and establishing ownership from host country stakeholders.
Ever striving to efficiently and effectively translate dialogue into action on the ground, in 2021, the BP set-up a Reference Group (RG), comprised of 15 countries to strengthen the link between meetings and development of operational cooperation. The deliberations of the RG led to the formulation and approval of three project proposals that would be implemented over the course of 2022 and beyond. The projects are aimed at enhancing regional law enforcement cooperation, strengthening vocational training for labour mobility, and reinforcing dignified return and sustainable reintegration.
The BP dialogue and projects under its umbrella undergo regular impact assessments, as well as external evaluation at the end of the projects. Given the evolving nature of the migration related challenges, a long time-horizon is needed to properly assess the impact of BP and its projects, however positive signs are clearly visible under all the project focal areas. Moreover, because the BP is a long running dialogue, it will continue to build on its achievements, counting on the ownership and strong support of its partners
II) Accept different opinions and find a way forward;
III) Strive for an honest, open and respectful dialogue;
IV) Listen and learn: give space to the expression of all migration realities;
V) Meeting on equal footing
Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)
I. Bridge migration realities over the regions concerned and establish political ownership of partner countries.
II. Create close links and friendships between experts and officials, in order to have the necessary level of trust to allow for open, frank and constructive dialogue
III. Be a sense maker of migration developments - from national to global - at regional level
IV. Facilitate peer to peer learning and knowledge exchange
V. Create a concrete tool for policy advancement and capacity-building to make sure the dialogue is flanked by operational advancement
VI. Ensure that dialogue meetings are closely linked to each other, either as a sequel to the previous or via some other logical sequence, thereby having a ‘red-thread’ between meetings;
VII. Communicate strategic goals effectively and consistently;
VIII. Take geopolitics into account when planning, as it is a major determinant of the quality and sustainability of projects and their outcomes
Ultimately, in order to realise the above, a strong Secretariat is needed, which is where the Budapest Process has succeeded as its Secretariat has provided close support to Chairs and participating countries in achieving their goals in a systematic and inclusive manner. It is therefore important for any other dialogue to make sure that a fully functional, well-staffed and empowered Secretariat is able to provide a steering as well as implementing function; always seeking to innovate, adapt, bridge gaps, respond to needs, and forge connections
Thus, the BP has created a sense of common purpose among participating states—in terms of a common understanding between the officials of the participating states and organisations—resulting in (1) the creation of an “epistemic community”; (2) a greater willingness and ability to compromise; and (3) broader consensus and common policy goals.
Moreover, to translate dialogue into action, BP acts as a platform for and jointly administers projects and on-the-ground operational activities across the Silk Routes region, resulting in (1) innovative forms of migration governance, (2) measurable impact towards the BP’s objectives, such as discouraging irregular migration and raising awareness of legal and safe options and assistance; and (3) more advanced cross-border cooperation. The BP Secretariat ensures the sustainability and continuity of these projects, which focus on all areas of migration but particularly irregular migration, labour migration, and migration and development.
The Covid-19 pandemic affected the BP’s strategy and calendar of activities. Nevertheless, the dialogue reacted swiftly and flexibly to the new conditions and restrictions it faced. Over the course the past two years, different types of virtual meetings took place, whether smaller group discussions, webinars or thematic meetings with working group sessions, offering varying audiences the possibility to share knowledge and good practices virtually.