GFMD 2016, a ‘milestone’ in Bangladesh’s diplomatic history


As an aftermath, countries started issuing travel advisories while international organisations began to shift conference venues from Bangladesh.

But brushing aside all odds at the end of the year, Dhaka managed to host an international event with participation of over 1,000 foreigners from 130 countries including more than 200 members of international civil societies and representatives from 30 organisations.

They attended the summit meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).

“It will remain as a milestone event in Bangladesh’s diplomatic history,” Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque told on Sunday, “be it for public diplomacy or migration diplomacy or branding Bangladesh”.

Bangladesh was the chair of the forum for 2016. Germany and Morocco became the co-chairs for 2017 beginning from Jan 1.

“We hosted the event at a time when there were travel alerts from many countries that Bangladesh is not safe to travel.  But when they came they were amazed to see the country,” the secretary reflected.

Bangladesh has been leading the global migration discussion from the front in recent years. It is because based on Bangladesh’s proposal, countries in the United Nations have agreed to have a separate ‘Global Compact on Migration’ to ensure rights of the migrants.

As the discussion on the modalities of the Compact has begun to finally adopt it by 2018, GFMD gave the countries a chance to discuss openly and put forward their thoughts before that deadline.

The meeting had three broad strands – the economics of migration, the sociology of migration and the governance of migration.

These covered all the relevant dimensions of migration –the promotion of migration and development, addressing irregular migration, and responding to forced displacement and refugees.

Bangladesh that earns 12 percent of its GDP from remittance proposed a number of options to be envisaged for the 2O18 Compact.

Those include a legally binding convention or treaty regulating the conduct of states, a political declaration with guiding principles guiding the behavior by states and concrete operational commitments with clear goals, targets and indicators of success as well as a robust monitoring framework.

A common thread of all the discussions in the meeting was the improvement of the governance of migration which was in fact the primary focus of Bangladesh.

The business-government-civil society dialogue was one of the significant events of the meeting held from Dec 8 to Dec 12.

“Dhaka event will always be remembered for that,” the foreign secretary said, as before this event business entity was always outside this GFMD process.

Prof CR Abrar, executive director of the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit, also believes that Bangladesh created a “new dimension” in the GFMD process.

“It’s during Bangladesh’s leadership, Arab countries represented in a big way. Private sector was completely absent before Dhaka meeting,” he told

The GFMD process started in 2OO7 at a time when countries were not willing to discuss the global migration issues within the UN system, giving birth to this separate non-binding process.

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