Human Mobility Programme


“What will be remembered about the twenty-first century, more than anything else except perhaps the effects of a changing climate, is the great, and final, shift of human populations out of rural, agricultural life and into cities. We will end this century as a wholly urban species. This movement engages an unprecedented number of people—two or three billion humans, perhaps a third of the world's population—and will affect almost everyone in tangible ways.

We need to devote far more attention to these places [cities], for they are not just the sites of potential conflict and violence but also the neighborhoods where the transition from poverty occurs, where the next middle class is forged, where the next generation's dreams, movements, and governments are created."

In D. Saunders, Arrival City (Knopf, September 2010)



Global human mobility, or international migration has garnered greater political attention in the last two decades due to a combination of factors including: the rising (absolute) numbers of migrants, the context in which they integrate in destination countries, the greater evidence of "mixed" migration flows, the circularity of flows and their connection with other transnational movements, and the recognition of the development potential that migrants bring both in destination and origin countries.

In October 2013, the United Nations Secretary-General identified eight priority areas for “making migration work” for all concerned - meaning migrants, destination communities and countries of origin. Through UNITAR’s HMP Programme, its co-convening of the Task Force on Capacity Development for the inter–agency Global Migration Group (GMG), and the World Bank’s KNOMAD Project, UNITAR seeks to contribute to these priority areas, in particular to strengthen the migration evidence base, and to enhance migration partnerships and cooperation


UNITAR actively supports governments and other migration stakeholders in the field of global human mobility since the late 1990s: UNITAR spearheaded the International Migration Policy Programme (IMP) (1998 to 2003), and acted in the Secretariat of the Global Commission on International Migration (2004-2005). Member of the Global Migration Group (GMG) since 2007, UNITAR is credited for having led the Group's revitalization during its chairmanship in 2009. From 2006-2012, it implemented the Migration and Development Seminar Series at UN Headquarters.

Building on this leadership role in coordinating dialogue and training on international migration, in the field and within the United Nations, UNITAR established its Human Mobility Programme (HMP) in November 2011.

HMP’s role is to coordinate, develop, update and deliver capacity development activities through on-line and face to face instruction to government officials at national, regional and municipal levels. 

HMP activities focus on the following three areas:

1. Strengthening Local Governance

In 1950, 309 million people in the developing world lived in cities; by 2030, 3.9 billion will.  As migration policy permeates governance considerations in all countries, so too has the increased recognition of the fundamental role played by local and regional authorities in responding to the key migration challenges: integration (“social cohesion”); reintegration; access to basic services; education; health; mobilizing diaspora groups; etc.

The Learning Platform on Human Mobility (LPHM) is the first global blended learning platform dedicated to supporting local and regional government on the challenges of a more mobile world. Read more.  

It works in close partnership with IOM, the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI), UNDP; the ACP Observatory on Migration; UNICEF; UNU Barcelona; the European Commission; the University of Antwerp (CeMIS); the City University of New York (CUNY); Erasmus University Rotterdam; Payoke; Storytegic (media consulting firm); OSCE; UNODC; and the Cities of Atlanta, Curitiba, Jeju, Findhorn, New York, Ouagadougou, Plock and Shanghai.

Moreover, it draws from the well-established global network of CIFAL Training Centres that deliver capacity development to municipal and regional authorities on all aspects of “access to basic services” and global challenges met through local governance solutions.  Since 2012, migration is being integrated into the training priorities of different CIFAL Centres across the globe. In that context, UNITAR and the CIFAL Centre located in Jeju, South Korea, have organized through 2012 a series of workshops on combatting human trafficking for local and regional authorities in South Asia. Read more.    

CIFAL Plock and the Regional Government of Mazovia, Poland, recently organized a workshop for journalists on migration coverage. The workshop took place on 15 May 2014 and included government, media and CSO representatives. More information.

2. Facilitating Policy Dialogue 

In his Report on International Migration and Development, the Secretary-General identifies 8 action points, including “Enhancing migration partnerships and cooperation.” UNITAR has contributed to fostering dialogue and partnerships in the field of migration. From 2006-2012, it was the first to do so for the broader international community at the United Nations Headquarters through the Migration and Development Seminar Series, with IOM and UNFPA, with the support of The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. A central meeting place for hundreds of policy makers, practitioners, and civil society at UN Headquarters, this Series served to inform, educate and advance policy thinking and dialogue on migration-related topics among New York’s diplomatic community. It built a repository of knowledge relevant to the themes of the second HLD on 3-4 October 2013, and supported the work of the inter-governmental Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) process including the Civil Society Days and 7th GFMD Meeting which took place in Stockholm on 12-16 May 2014.

UNITAR in partnership with the City of Barcelona launched a global policy space for Mayors to discuss migration and mobility. Announced at the UN General Assembly last October, the first Mayoral Forum on Mobility, Migration and Development took place in Barcelona on 19-20 June 2014.

Read more

3. Building Knowledge Capacity 

Since February 2013, UNITAR co-convenes the capacity development work within the Global Migration Group (GMG) with IOM and acts as training focal point within the World Bank’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD). In September 2013, it engaged with Member States on its axes of work, during the GFMD Friends of the Forum Meeting. (10 September 2013, Statement and Presentation

Within the GMG and KNOMAD, UNITAR plays a lead role in centralising existing training activities and tools by creating a comprehensive online inventory of capacity building in the field of international migration, and in spearheading reflective work on changes in adult education and their impact on capacity development activities in the field of migration and development, by organizing Workshops on Learning together with KNOMAD and IOM as co-facilitator of the GMG’s Task Force on Capacity Development.  

In 2014, UNITAR is building a comprehensive catalogue of e-Learning courses on migration & mobility to supplement UNITAR’s e-Learning catalogue, one of the most diverse and accessible e-learning outlets offered by the UN. 

Read more


The Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) is envisaged to be global hub of knowledge and policy expertise on migration and development issues. KNOMAD draws on experts from all parts of the world to synthesize existing knowledge and generate new knowledge for use by policy makers in sending and receiving countries.

The Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) supports local authorities as well as civil society organizations that have a stake in local development and migration issues. The JMDI is a global programme implemented by UNDP in collaboration with its partners IOM, ILO, UNHCR, UN WOMEN and UNFPA, and is funded by the European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. 

Cities of Migration showcases good ideas in immigrant integration and promotes innovative practices that create inclusion and urban prosperity.


For more information:

For media-related queries, contact: Dr. Colleen Thouez, in New York.

For general information, contact: Ms. Kato Van Broeckhoven, in Brussels. 






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