Statement at the 108th Session of the IOM Council

Statement by Norway in the General Debate. Delivered by Deputy Director Ms. Kaia Bilton, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 Nov – 1 Dec 2017

Thank you Chair,

First, let me express our gratitude to you, Director General, and your staff. We recognize and commend you on the important role that the IOM plays in the many crises around the world; in developing and refining the organization so it can meet the challenges ahead of us; and for your engagement and support with respect to the development of the Global Compact on Migration.

The last 12 months have indeed been demanding. We join many other delegations in congratulating you on the IOM’s first year as a member of the UN family. The reports to this Council from the Standing Committee and the working groups bear witness to great activity and effort.   

Norway supported the entry of the IOM into the UN system. We would also like to see the organization well established as the global lead agency on migration, and as a hub for the follow-up framework or that might be established for the global compact.

However, we would like to make a point at this stage, in order for the IOM to successfully manage such a crucial mandate: It is important to ensure that each and all the agencies with a stake in migration issues are given space and responsibility to follow up on their respective and specific mandates. The only way to adequately respond to the complexity and magnitude of the challenges ahead, is through a comprehensive approach and broad inter-agency alliances.


A few comments also on the Compact itself:

The GCM will be subject to intergovernmental negotiations. It therefore needs to take into account the fundamental and diverse national interests involved, without which the Compact will not gain sufficient support and legitimacy. For Norway, it is important that the Compact fully acknowledges the sovereign right of governments to decide which foreign nationals may enter and reside on their territory, within our obligations under international law.

However, the GCM must at the same time underline the need for effective national policies to ensure the integration and inclusion of those who are granted permits to stay, allowing them access to health care, education and the labour market.

In order to maintain credible protection and asylum systems, there is a need also for well-functioning systems of return of those who do not meet criteria for legal stay. Norway believes that the Compact must reflect the obligation of states under international law to readmit their own nationals.

This being said, the Compact must also make it clear that any type of return, whether voluntary or otherwise, must be in compliance with applicable international law, including the principle of non-refoulement.


Our common goal is safe, orderly and regular migration. To sum up, I would like to repeat that Norway is committed to the IOM, and we will continue to elaborate and develop our partnership also in the year to come. We are also committed to the process leading up to a Global Compact, and hope and believe that the Compact will become the toolbox we need to support our efforts for common, global solutions to our common, global challenges.

Thank you.