About the IOM

The International Organisation for Migration, an agency for transnational migration management

25.Dec.01 - Founded in 1952 the IOM has been initiated by the USA in course of the cold war against the Warschau Treaty-states under the name Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM). It is based, like the ILO or the UNHCR in the ostensible neutral, because non-aligned Switzerland. 1980, it was renamed, due to the increasing global role the reference to Europe was left out. In 1989 it got the name International Organization for Migration. Today, the IOM has 79 member-states, 43 states with observer-status, just as numerous observing international organizations, like the UN, ILO, the European Council, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and others. The IOM consists of the council of the members and the executiv-comittee. Ist headquarters is Geneva. Vienna is seat of the Technical Cooperation Centre, where all Eastern European activities are coordinated.
There are also offices and 'Field Offices' in the member-states.

The IOM has a yearly budget of approximately 36 millions Swiss Francs for its administrative tasks (110 administration-employees), the programs are financed from voluntary financial contributions of the member-states in form of sponsorships and are essentially higher. The IOM is no transnational organisation, like the UN, or the international support-organizations like the red cross. Neither it is based on international right or contracts, nor it authorisiert or controlled by an international committee.
Only the member-states and with it the sponsors control the work of the IOM.
The IOM works as a service-supplier in matters of migration management, control and 'repatriations', which is an euphemism for deportations. At first, the ICEM was an instrument of the settlement of refugees from the Warschau Treaty-states.
Before the iron curtain fell, it participated at the ' man power and brain drain' from this central-European states. During the 70er years, it adopted functions with the foundation and stabilization of ethnic or religiously defined nation-states on the Indian subcontinent, just as in Eastern Afrika. Under the control of the ICEM, ethnic Asians were evacuated from Uganda, muslim refugees were settled from India to Pakistan, a continuation of the politics of the population-substitution between Indian, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Less controversial is the help of the IOM for political refugees from Chile in the seventies. To the beginning of the nineties, the ICEM tried to obtain the control of refugee movements in the Middle East. During the second Gulf War, migrants were shipped from the golf states into their countries of origin just as Iraqi Kurds were driven to return into those which are the war-arena today. The interventions of the nineties were marked through the engagements on the Balkan. In the course of the those years, the IOM assigned the function of a transnational organization for the planning and control of global migration movements.

It was established as an institution for the control of the European post-war migration, but during the 30 years of the iron curtain, that actually shielded Europe against undesirable migration movements, it began concentrating its activities on trikontinental arenas. However, in 1989 by its repeated renaming the IOM again faced a new definition of its tasks. Since the nineties, its European focus has been revived and reflect European migration strategies. First and foremost, all around Europe outposts were established in rapid speed, sometimes in breathtaking speed. In these countries of Central -, East - and Southeast-Europe, providing a belt around the Schengen-Staates, as in Centralasia the IOM, with ist numerous branches, has installed a downright apparatus in the countries of emigration and transit.

The list is long and reads like the influence-area of the European Union, whose main focus is the entire greater area of Eastern Europe, to the Kaukasus and Central Asia. Even in the distant Azerbaijan and the Kaspian oil area the IOM has got a field office. These branches have the function of a 'migration warning'-system, which guarantees that European governments can be informed about upcoming 'larger migration flows' right in time.

The IOM was also involved in the support of the so-called Puebla Process of 10 Central and North American countries in 1996, also at the Manila Process, also established in 1996, which covers the area of 16 east - and southeast-Asian states, including Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand. These processes consist of regular meetings of migration-authorities for the the 'exchange of information over migation trends ...and for the development of a cooperation in fighting against 'human-trafficking'. Similar inter-governmental consultations were prepared for South African and South American states".

Since 1996 the IOM publishes the Bulletin 'Trafficking in Migrants'. It contains information of the migration routes, the identification of clandestine methods and behind-standing organizational structures. For example, the Dutch government in Azerbaijan drives a research-program on the question of " human-trafficking and economic migration" under the hospiz of the IOM. It is not only information the IOM organizes, it also takes part in politics in those countries where it is present.

By the example of the contact of the IOM with Turkey one can recognize in which way the IOM takes part in the management of the international migration regime and tries to establish approved methods wherever possible:

The IOM suggested: 1.that the Turkish authorities should cooperate with international organizations on the the voluntary return of transit - and irregular migrants into their origin-states.

2. that the transportation of migrants should be punished by the Turkish law.

3. that an exchange of information is created between the Turkish authorities and the governments of the origin-states and the goal-countries of the transitmigrants in order to prevent irregular migration and to fight the transportation.

4.that border-controls in Turkey are a fundamental tool to the fight of irregular Migration "

With such suggestions the IOM presents itself as an agency of European interests, which consists in the transferal of its migrations control outposts ever further and subsequently in the expansion of the European border-regime.

Taking the example of Aserbeidjan further aims become identifiable: The priorities are the "Prevention of illegal migration through and after Aserbeidjan and , to this purpose, the improvement of the border- management in its function to control international movements."

"It is the goal of the project to strengthen the capacity of the government to establish a system for the management of migrations processes. This is entirely focused on the formulation and development of a migrations policy, the preparation of a strong legal basis to the regulation of migration and the construction of modern migrations- management structures, including a border management system".

In the Kosovo the IOM plays a completely different role: At first, it was bound into the disenarment of the UCK, another, rather traditional task consisted of the organisation of the return and again-settlement of refugees. In the meantime, numerous offices of the IOM, working as employment offices, which economical support in the Kosovo. Occasionally, these offices organized also the garbage-rebuff, translator-services or the public administration. The IOM was implanted into the vacuum of the postwar era and takes over - as state substitute - communal - and regulatory tasks. Actually it is nothing else than a transnational protectorate administration.

In Germany, the IOM put up posters in the foreigner offices to offer support for 'voluntary return' . At the Munich airport , the IOM has got its own flight counter to directly deal with departure-modalities of unwanted foreigners. In Eastern Europe, the IOM has adopted the responsibility for the disbursement of the compensation-moneys for the 'NS-Zwangsarbeiter.'

Differently than the UNHCR or this red cross the first interest of the IOM is not humanitarian. In a world of change, a world of immense income-differences, a world of nation-state reorganization and ecological catastrophes, the IOM rather sees its task in the global - efficient and planned - control of of ethnical groups, professions or social groups.

Nowadays, the IOM says of itself to have intervened in the lives of approximately 11 millions refugees and migrants. In the year 2000 alone, the IOM has assisted the return of 430.000 people, 230.000 in 1999 and 1998 approximately 100.000.

The most important destinations for deportation in 2000 were Ost-Timor, Kosovo, North-Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the crisis-region in the southern Africa. From this list, it becomes clear that the IOM becomes active anywhere where it otherwise seems difficult to return people to, such as war and crisis-regions. Germany is the most important customer and client. It does not surprise that the IOM is criticized organisations of migrants: The Roma National Congress explained:"The IOM is known as an organization, that works by the orders of different states against Roma-refugees. Professor Ian Hankock named the IOM in his report on the situation of the Roma in Europe ' the enemy of the Roma people'. This the deportation-politic of numerous European states converts and simultaneously as a merciful NGO acts".

The IOM has promoted many times politically motivated migration movements, contributed to the enforcement of ethnic cleansing, made possible the implantation of ethnic nation-states, or even contributed to the containment of escape-movements.

It is probably THE most important instrument of global population politics and social engineering, the construction of society in line with criteria of efficiency and productivity.

The Dilemma in the fight against people trade.

Frequently by investigating the global migration regime documents on the people-trade issue appear, also on women-trade and slavery. In order to be able to assess their actual meaning right, it seems necessary to make clear the understanding of these categories. The definitions of the different organisations involved in migration control are not uniform until now. Roughly spoken they distinguish between 'illegal entry', 'illegal stay', 'allowance and support', 'human trafficking' and 'human-smuggling'.

While Europol has a quite narrow and precise definition of human-trade, which is always 'connected with sexual exploitation' and 'force, threat or misuse of power', the IOM has a very wide definition which says that it is human-trade when 'a migrant is engaged illegally, recruited or bought etc, or is moved'. The documents to women - and human-trade are a complex mixture from honest apprehension and abhorrence of kidnapping, maltreatment and enslavement of women and children on one hand and general fight against each other form of migration on the other hand.

Often politically motivated EC-documents sail under the flag of the fight against slavery. Especially the IOM likes to present its programs under the title of the fight of the tade in human beings and in women in particular. Using such an extensive definition, that migration is meant as a whole without saying that clearly.

To give an example, in the states identified as important escape - and migration regions, for example Poland, Macedonia, so-called information-campaigns are established by the IOM. In those the IOM tries to show the danger, in which women, who want to migrate, go. An one-sided deterrence-scenario is painted to demotivate women to migrate. The intent of the IOM lies in the planting of psychological migration blockades into the public consciousness.

It destroys thereby positive associations people connect with migration. Of course it is untrue that the majority of female migrants ends in the sex business, although the number is alarmingly high. But still, numerous empirical studies have shown that women have extensive hope in migration: They escape from the prosecution by fathers, uncles or grandmothers; they escape from patriatic and violent-informal structures. Autonomy and independence, the wish for an individual income motivates female migration. In the unison with the usage of women and the deterrence-scenarios of the IOM, this desire is taken from women who want to migrate.

Especially the far dispersed reference on the fight of the women-trade is confusing and difficult to classify. Above all since the UN women-conference in Beijing in 1995 there is such a rhetoric move into the migration control. Partially it may be that feministic views have managed the march through the institutions successfully and could convince the IOM of the necessity of the international women-protection. On the other hand it remains to ask whether the surveillance and the fight against migration is not masqeraded by that. occasionally, whether therefore feminism, that means that engaged women are used for the legitimisation of migration control and migration limitation. A least the according organizations are ambivalent at this point.

Criterion for an evaluation of such activities could be the demands of some independent women-groups on this congress: Acknowledgment of women-specific escape-reasons in the asylum procedure and legalization of prostitution, equally entitle treatment of women in migration. An example for this dilemma is one IOM organised and University of North London based research - and intervention-program about the situation of women in Macedonia. On the one hand, the two cooperators of the project are engaged feminists, who have devoted themself to the topic of domestiv violence for years. The same is applied to the cooperation-partners, often integre organizations. On the other hand, they find themself on the side of a transnational organization,which is not working on an autonomous right on migration, but -roughly spoken - for the interests of the industrial nations.

It seems as antipatriachalism and feminism are used for the further development of the migration control.

What next

However, about the work of the IOM, many questions remain unanswered. Any further news, information, anecdotes, addresses of further IOM offices or desks should be circulated on this list.


Field and other offices are in Bern, Geneva, Vienna, Berlin, Bonn, Prague, Sarajewo, Belo Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kasachstan, Kirgisia, Tadjikistan, Turmenistan, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Bulagaria, Rumania, Slowak Republic, Jugoslawia, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonien, Albanian, Cyprus, Armenia, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Argentina, Mali and elsewhere.
The Berlin Office also covers Poland.

Source: (Footnotes got lost by reformatting the text, the main source is the IOM website,

Note: The translation is only preliminary, it also contain quotations retranslated into English, from which the exact wording may have suffered.

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