Skip to main content

21 - Dignified return and reintegration

GCM Objectives
21 - Dignified return and reintegration

Cooperate in facilitating dignified return and readmission, as well as sustainable reintegration

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) is based on 23 objectives. This page provides resources for objective 21 (Cooperate in facilitating dignified return and readmission, as well as sustainable reintegration):

“37. We commit to facilitate and cooperate for safe and dignified return and to guarantee due process, individual assessment and effective remedy, by upholding the prohibition of collective expulsion and of returning migrants when there is a real and foreseeable risk of death, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, or other irreparable harm, in accordance with our obligations under international human rights law. We further commit to ensure that our nationals are duly received and readmitted, in full respect for the human right to return to one’s own country and the obligation of States to readmit their own nationals. We also commit to create conducive conditions for personal safety, economic empowerment, inclusion and social cohesion in communities, in order to ensure that reintegration of migrants upon return to their countries of origin is sustainable.

(a) Develop and implement bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation frameworks and agreements, including readmission agreements, ensuring that return and readmission of migrants to their own country is safe, dignified and in full compliance with international human rights law, including the rights of the child, by determining clear and mutually agreed procedures that uphold procedural safeguards, guarantee individual assessments and legal certainty, and by ensuring they also include provisions that facilitate sustainable reintegration;

(b) Promote gender-responsive and child-sensitive return and reintegration programmes, that may include legal, social and financial support, guaranteeing that all returns in the context of such voluntary programmes effectively take place on the basis of the migrant’s free, prior and informed consent, and that returning migrants are assisted in their reintegration process through effective partnerships, including to avoid they become displaced in the country of origin upon return;

(c) Cooperate on identification of nationals and issuance of travel documents for safe and dignified return and readmission in cases of persons that do not have the legal right to stay on another State’s territory, by establishing reliable and efficient means of identification of own nationals such as through the addition of biometric identifiers in population registries, and by digitalizing civil registry systems, with full respect to the right to privacy and protection of personal data;

(d) Foster institutional contacts between consular authorities and relevant officials from countries of origin and destination, and provide adequate consular assistance to returning migrants prior to return by facilitating access to documentation, travel documents, and other services, in order to ensure predictability, safety and dignity in return and readmission;

(e) Ensure that the return of migrants who do not have the legal right to stay on another State’s territory is safe and dignified, follows an individual assessment, is carried out by competent authorities through prompt and effective cooperation between countries of origin and destination, and allows all applicable legal remedies to be exhausted, in compliance with due process guarantees, and other obligations under international human rights law;

(f) Establish or strengthen national monitoring mechanisms on return, in partnership with relevant stakeholders, that provide independent recommendations on ways and means to strengthen accountability, in order to guarantee the safety, dignity, and human rights of all returning migrants;

(g) Ensure that return and readmission processes involving children are carried out only after a determination of the best interests of the child, take into account the right to family life, family unity, and that a parent, legal guardian or specialized official accompanies the child throughout the return process, ensuring that appropriate reception, care and reintegration arrangements for children are in place in the country of origin upon return;

(h) Facilitate the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants into community life by providing them equal access to social protection and services, justice, psycho-social assistance, vocational training, employment opportunities and decent work, recognition of skills acquired abroad, and financial services, in order to fully build upon their entrepreneurship, skills and human capital as active members of society and contributors to sustainable development in the country of origin upon return;

(i) Identify and address the needs of the communities to which migrants return by including respective provisions in national and local development strategies, infrastructure planning, budget allocations and other relevant policy decisions and cooperating with local authorities and relevant stakeholders."

(GCM, 2018: para. 37)

A growing number of migrants travel as part of increasingly complex and mixed flows, and may remain stranded or find themselves in an irregular situation for prolonged periods of time. The return and reintegration of migrants unwilling or unable to remain in host or transit countries have gained renewed political importance on the agenda of national and international policy makers around the world. States must ensure that no migrants are subject to refoulement or collective expulsion, and that each individual subject to return is guaranteed an individualized consideration of his or her case that respects due process and procedural guarantees, including access to interpretation, legal representation, and the right to appeal. States should also ensure that voluntary returns only occur with migrants’ free, prior and informed consent and are free of any coercion. During the return itself, migrants’ human rights may be particularly at risk, and must be carefully protected, including through access to justice and accountability and adequate monitoring mechanisms. States must also respect, protect, and fulfill migrants’ economic, social and cultural rights, including the rights to health, an adequate standard of living, and social protection through all stages of the return and reintegration process, including pre-return and post-return.   Effective return and reintegration policies contribute to safe, orderly and dignified migration and are a key component of comprehensive migration management systems.

Return and Reintegration in the text of the Global Compact

Objective 21 is also mentioned in the following sections of the GCM:

  • Objective 1 (para. 17)
  • Objective 3 (para. 19)
  • Objective 4 (para. 20)
  • Objective 7 (para. 23)
  • Objective 12 (para. 28)
  • Objective 13 (para. 29)

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

    Content relevant to "21 - Dignified return and reintegration"
    Displaying results 1 - 10 of 285
    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).