Youth For Migration

November 29, 2018

By the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth


Get involved, they say.  In what, you might ask?

For the past month, the UNMGCY has been raising awareness about the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) and directing youth to an open call for the Youth Forum and the #youth4migration campaign through various social media outlets.  

The UNMGCY is the only official platform that is specifically dedicated to youth engagement in the GCM negotiations, implementation, follow-up, and review.  

Not Just Another Voice

There is a growing need for policy that is relevant and realistic, not just a product of one authoritative voice, but a collective of voices.  Migrants, especially migrant youth, need to be a part of the process. The changes in the legal and procedural policies need to occur not just in writing, but in practice as well.  To do so, we must re-evaluate the prejudice and stigma that has grown around migrant workers enduring less than average working conditions in host countries (click here to read our article on the stigma around migrants).

Advocacy is not just a word.  It’s a call to action, to highlight the needs of individuals and reaching the people who can help better fulfill those needs. The Youth Forum is also about building the capacity of youth for advocacy, to be able to speak on behalf of their generation in creating policies that will contribute in the sustainable development of their communities.  

In a video prepared for the launch of the Innocenti report Protected on paper, an analysis of Nordic country responses to asylum-seeking children, Lilas, a Syrian girl who left her country at seventeen, shares her story:

Migrants like Lilas continue to experience a sense of connection to their countries of origin, even more so when their families are still there.  

The Better Policy

Policy may be something that we don’t give much thought to.  But different policies set in place carry a significant impact on our day-to-day lives.  It governs the way community works to support, sustain, and develop itself. As mentioned in Protected on Paper, an in-depth legal analysis of migrant and refugee laws in five Nordic countries commissioned by Unicef, there is a youth-specific gap in how these laws are practiced.

There are numerous opportunities for improving policy through the discussions that the GCM will initiate.  

The report prepared by Global Migration Group outlines 17 areas of improvement regarding migrants and youth.  It calls for governments to recognize and commit to issues surrounding youth migration. Youth migration should be a mainstream part of national policy making and planning.  

Expanding the Evidence Base

One of the first steps would be in gathering more research and data on youth migration to strengthen the evidence base for action, because there is a lack of research still.  Governments can build capacity to conduct effective research through specialized institutions and investing into more avenues for research and collaboration.

The Right Equipment

Current legislation on both local and national levels of government that governs migrants, especially youth migrants, should be revisited and reviewed.  Youth migration should be approached in a manner that is human-rights based, age-sensitive, and equity-focused. Treaties like the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) should be fully harnessed in the implementation, follow-up, and review process, equipping youth migrants to defend, access, and enjoy their rights.

Protecting Vulnerable Groups

There should be agreements between governments in place to ensure access to basic social protection for adolescents and youth.  These agreements should be promoted and enforced as such. Preventative measures should be put in place to protect vulnerable groups, especially young, female migrants.  Laws that protect against early marriage, gender-based violence, including sexual violence and human trafficking. Family legislation that specifies equal rights of family members that have been left behind, including equal access to property and land so that they can sustain themselves in the absence of the head of family.

Addressing Stigma

Decent work should be provided, applicable to all migrants, enforcing labour laws and standards that will help change the stigma around migrant workers and create a safer workplace environment for all.  

In the long term, support systems that ensure accessibility to health care, safer means of transportation and increased mobility for higher education, and address environment issues and how it affects youth migration should be put in place.

Youth Engagement

Meaningful participation of youth when it comes to migrant issues needs to be promoted, incorporated into the global development agenda.  Opportunities for meaningful engagement should be created where youth are, so that migration becomes an informed choice, not the only choice for youth.

What policy changes do you want to advocate for?  Join in the conversation at the Youth Forum.  

The Youth Forum will take place during Migration Week in December 2018 in Marrakesh, Morocco.


The aim of the Youth Forum is to build capacity and ensure that young people and their communities are actively informed and prepared to take part in the implementation of the GCM from grassroots to intergovernmental levels. It will be a youth-led event, open to all those who wish to participate. It will present a unique engagement opportunity for youth and young migrants. The program will draw on discussions, positions, and actions from different regions through the entire GCM process, seeking to build capacity for policy implementation and a sense of public collective ownership of the GCM success.

The outcome of the forum and the participation of youth in the GCM consultations and negotiations as well as the plan for implementation and follow-up will be presented within intergovernmental and public platforms, including the GCM follow-up and review. This review process will be integral in gauging the success of the implementation, an opportunity to partake in a collective agenda towards a brighter future for not just today’s youth, but the billions more to come.