What are Migration Profiles?

MPs are frameworks for aggregating, in a structured and systematic manner, existing data and information from international, national and regional sources to support government policies on migration and development and improve policy coherence. First introduced by the European Commission (EC) in its Communication on Migration and Development [COM (2005) 390] as a basic tool for migration-related data collection, MPs have recently since undergone considerable transformation in format, content and objectives. Indeed, MP exercises have recently evolved into more comprehensive approaches, so-called ‘Extended Migration Profile (EMP)’, supported by the European Commission (EC). An Extended MP exercise consists in

  1. Extending the range of themes discussed in the report (e.g. including also social and human development aspects and/or a migration impact analysis),
  2. Implementing complementary capacity building activities run in parallel with the development of a country report (e.g. conduct a data assessment, setting up an institutional framework, carry out specific thematic studies), and/or
  3. Preparing all MP activities in consultation with the government and a broad range of stakeholders including the civil society.

Although there remains a lack of common understanding of what MP/EMPs are, it has been established that they are much more than a statistical report. From the initial idea of presenting a concise and standardized snap-shot of the migration situation in a particular country, originally developed by the European Commission as an Annex to its Country Strategy Papers, MPs have become a broader and more comprehensive instrument, covering additional thematic areas and increasingly seen as a tool for capacity-building, policy development, cross-institutional cooperation and technical assistance to governments.

Why do we need Migration Profiles?

Migration Profiles (MPs) aim at serving governments in applying a more evidence-based approach to migration policy making. The complex nature of migration, the lack of reliable and comparable up-to-date information, the insufficient knowledge of the impact of migration, the dispersion of data and decision makers between state structures are only some of the difficulties in the migration policy-making process. MPs can target one or more of these challenges: depending on the specific country priorities and needs, they can serve governments and other stakeholders for a variety of purposes such as identifying data gaps, promoting policy coherence, better understanding an emerging migration policy issue, analyzing the impact of migration on development, or facilitating the mainstreaming of migration into national development planning. MPs as a monitoring and evaluation tool represent one of the main objectives for MP exercises in the near future.

How to prepare a Migration Profile?

Governments and international organizations adopt different approaches when developing and implementing a MP. Their approaches differ in terms of who prepares a country report, how it is prepared, the content and issues discussed by a MP and complementary activities that form part of a MP exercise.

While gathering existing data and information from various sources, analyzing and presenting them in an internationally comparable format remains one of the key objectives of most MP exercises. But recent MP projects also include other elements such as preliminary data assessments, setting up institutional frameworks, impact analyses, formulation of policy recommendations and national action plans, training on data collection, to mention a few, in order to suit their national interests and requirements.

Regardless of the approach adopted, two key aspects should be considered at the outset in every MP exercise: national ownership and sustainability. The MP should be owned by the government as a necessary tool for a more evidence-based and coherent policymaking that takes into account national priorities. Moreover, the MP exercise requires sustained political will to ensure responsibility of state actors and establishment of appropriate legal and structural mechanisms, including a main coordinating body that will promote the state ownership of the final migration profile and its regular systematic updates.

See: Report on GFMD 2011 Thematic Cluster III. Subtheme 3: Implementing Migration Profiles