Skip to main content

7 - Reduce vulnerabilities

GCM Objectives
7 - Reduce vulnerabilities

Address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) is based on 23 objectives. This page provides resources for objective 7 (Address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration):

“23. We commit to respond to the needs of migrants who face situations of vulnerability, which may arise from the circumstances in which they travel or the conditions they face in countries of origin, transit and destination, by assisting them and protecting their human rights, in accordance with our obligations under international law. We further commit to uphold the best interests of the child at all times, as a primary consideration in situations where children are concerned, and to apply a gender-responsive approach in addressing vulnerabilities, including in responses to mixed movements. 

To realize this commitment, we will draw from the following actions: 

a) Review relevant policies and practices to ensure that they do not create, exacerbate or unintentionally increase vulnerabilities of migrants, including by applying a human rights-based, gender- and disability-responsive, as well as age- and child-sensitive approach 

b) Establish comprehensive policies and develop partnerships that provide migrants in a situation of vulnerability, regardless of their migration status, with necessary support at all stages of migration, through identification and assistance, as well as protection of their human rights, in particular in cases related to women at risk, children, especially those unaccompanied or separated from their families, members of ethnic and religious minorities, victims of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, older persons, persons with disabilities, persons who are discriminated against on any basis, indigenous peoples, workers facing exploitation and abuse, domestic workers, victims of trafficking in persons, and migrants subject to exploitation and abuse in the context of smuggling of migrants

c) Develop gender-responsive migration policies to address the particular needs and vulnerabilities of migrant women, girls and boys, which may include assistance, health care, psychological and other counselling services, as well as access to justice and effective remedies, especially in cases of sexual and gender-based violence, abuse and exploitation 

d) Review relevant existing labour laws and work conditions to identify and effectively address workplace-related vulnerabilities and abuses of migrant workers at all skills levels, including domestic workers, and those working in the informal economy, in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, particularly the private sector 

e) Account for migrant children in national child protection systems by establishing robust procedures for the protection of migrant children in relevant legislative, administrative and judicial proceedings and decisions, as well as in all migration policies and programmes that impact children, including consular protection policies and services, as well as cross-border cooperation frameworks, in order to ensure that the best interests of the child are appropriately integrated, consistently interpreted and applied in coordination and cooperation with child protection authorities 

f) Protect unaccompanied and separated children at all stages of migration through the establishment of specialized procedures for their identification, referral, care and family reunification, and provide access to health-care services, including mental health, education, legal assistance and the right to be heard in administrative and judicial proceedings, including by swiftly appointing a competent and impartial legal guardian, as essential means to address their particular vulnerabilities and discrimination, protect them from all forms of violence and provide access to sustainable solutions that are in their best interests

g) Ensure that migrants have access to public or affordable independent legal assistance and representation in legal proceedings that affect them, including during any related judicial or administrative hearing, in order to safeguard that all migrants, everywhere, are recognized as persons before the law and that the delivery of justice is impartial and non-discriminatory 

h) Develop accessible and expedient procedures that facilitate transitions from one status to another and inform migrants of their rights and obligations, so as to prevent migrants from falling into an irregular status in the country of destination, to reduce precariousness of status and related vulnerabilities, as well as to enable individual status assessments for migrants, including for those who have fallen out of regular status, without fear of arbitrary expulsion 

i) Build on existing practices to facilitate access for migrants in an irregular status to an individual assessment that may lead to regular status, on a case-by-case basis and with clear and transparent criteria, especially in cases where children, youth and families are involved, as an option for reducing vulnerabilities, as well as for States to ascertain better knowledge of the resident population 

j) Apply specific support measures to ensure that migrants caught up in situations of crisis in countries of transit and destination have access to consular protection and humanitarian assistance, including by facilitating cross-border and broader international cooperation, as well as by taking migrant populations into account in crisis preparedness, emergency response and post-crisis action 

k) Involve local authorities and relevant stakeholders in the identification, referral and assistance of migrants in a situation of vulnerability, including through agreements with national protection bodies, legal aid and service providers, as well as the engagement of mobile response teams, where they exist 

l) Develop national policies and programmes to improve national responses that address the needs of migrants in situations of vulnerability, including by taking into consideration relevant recommendations of the Global Migration Group ’s Principles and Guidelines, Supported by Practical Guidance, on the Human Rights Protection of Migrants in Vulnerable Situations.

(GCM, 2018: para. 23)

Migration is linked to several human rights implications, processes, challenges, risks and violations. Around the world, the human rights of millions of migrants, including many involved in large movements or mixed movements, are insufficiently protected or at risk of abuse, in particular those with precarious or irregular status. Too often, migrants are victims of human rights violations throughout their migratory journeys, from losing their lives, human trafficking, lack of adequate protection and assistance measures, being criminalized and arbitrarily detained, to barriers in their access to health, justice and education, to name a few. They are also target of xenophobic and discriminatory acts due to their nationality, national origin, economic status, and/or ethnicity. 

Human rights are the fundamental rights that every person enjoys regardless of their nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. They range from the most fundamental - the right to life - to those that make life worth living, such as the rights to food, education, work, health, and liberty. When these rights are not protected, they are violated (which can either be intentionally performed by the state or come as a result of the state failing to prevent the violation), which leads to vulnerable situations and inequalities, whether cultural or structural, individual or systemic. These factors are often push factors that lead persons to leave their country of origin and migrate out of need, to survive and/or to find better life opportunities elsewhere. They may also affect the migratory journey of these individuals during transit and/or at destination and can further exacerbate inequalities and vulnerabilities. These factors may intersect or coexist simultaneously, influencing and exacerbating each other and also evolving or changing over time as circumstances change. No person is inherently vulnerable, instead, situational and personal circumstances can propel a person into vulnerable situations. 

The need to identify, recognize and address vulnerabilities and inequalities, and the factors that generate them, underpins the international law obligations of States to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. States must take positive measures to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all migrants, to prevent human rights violations, to investigate and punish violations, and provide access to justice and effective remedies and reparation to victims. The international human rights law framework that States have adopted provides protection to all persons, including all migrants, regardless of their legal status. In order to address vulnerabilities and inequalities in migration, States have a heightened responsibility to provide appropriate protection and assistance to migrants in vulnerable situations in line with international human rights law. 

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) report is available in AR, ZH, EN, FR, RU, ES.

Content relevant to "7 - Reduce vulnerabilities"
Displaying results 1 - 10 of 656
Explore other GCM Objectives
2 - Minimize adverse drivers

*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).