Seventh meeting | ASIA DIALOGUE ON FORCED MIGRATION | November 2018

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  • Seventh meeting | ASIA DIALOGUE ON FORCED MIGRATION | November 2018

Key documents for the seventh ADFM meeting:

The seventh meeting of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration (ADFM) was held from 18-20 November 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand, following the recently concluded 33rdASEAN Summit in Singapore. At its seventh meeting, the ADFM focussed on the risks of human trafficking, migrant smuggling and related exploitation arising from the displacement of the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh; coordinated regional responses to migrants at risk; and good practice alternatives to child detention. Here is the statement from the ADFM Secretariat following the meeting.

Since its sixth meeting in Sydney in March 2018, the ADFM Secretariat has had a productive period. Following visits to Jakarta and Geneva, the Secretariat presented to the Bali Process Ad Hoc Group Senior Officials’ Meeting in June, and to the Ministerial Conference and Senior Officials’ Meeting in August 2018. The Secretariat has also conducted an assessment of the risk of human trafficking, migrant smuggling and related exploitation arising from the situation in Cox’s Bazar, sharing preliminary findings of the assessment with ADFM members in Bangkok.

ADFM members commended Bangladesh and its international partners for their generous and effective humanitarian response to the crisis and acknowledged that the most durable answer to the situation is the safe, dignified, voluntary and sustainable repatriation of the Rohingya to Rakhine State in Myanmar. ADFM members also noted with concern the current and intensifying risks of both people displaced and Bangladeshi nationals becoming victims of trafficking, smuggling and exploitation.

ADFM members agreed there is much regional actors can do in response to the risk scenarios: from boosting capacity of actors on the ground in Bangladesh and Myanmar to prevent and counter human trafficking; to targeted development assistance on both sides of the Naf River, benefitting local, displaced and refugee populations, to address risk factors and assist people to prepare for eventual return and sustainable repatriation.

ADFM members recognised the important roles that ASEAN and the Bali Process play in managing migration in the region, particularly in countering trafficking in persons, forced labour and modern slavery. The ADFM noted there is scope for the two bodies to work more closely together to assist their member states in responding to shared migration challenges and implementing key elements of the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees.

The news that Australia would not be signing the Global Compact on Migration in December broke shortly after the seventh ADFM meeting concluded, and was met with disappointment by the ADFM Secretariat. Here is an opinion piece published by Travers McLeod, Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Policy Development and ADFM co-convenor, on the decision.

The third major topic covered at the seventh ADFM meeting was alternatives to the detention of children in the context of international migration. ADFM members discussed the steps several countries in the region are taking to phase out child detention, including in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, and resolved to convene a workshop of interested countries, institutions, civil society and faith-based organisations to share the ‘how to’ of effective alternatives to child detention.

The ADFM Secretariat will also look to take forward other proposals raised at the seventh meeting with regional actors, including: sharing the findings of the Cox’s Bazar trafficking risk assessment with relevant regional bodies; offering assistance to ASEAN and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) in their continuing management of migrants at risk; investigating possible further support for the displaced populations in Myanmar and Bangladesh through an international conference; and contributing to regional dialogue on the modalities for greater ASEAN and Bali Process collaboration.

The ADFM Co-chairs thank the Institute for Human Rights and Peace Studies and Mahidol University for their support in convening the seventh meeting in Bangkok. The ADFM has met twice a year since August 2015 and meetings have been held in Melbourne, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Sydney. The next meeting is scheduled to be in Jakarta, Indonesia in mid-2019.



Background reading:

  • For the ADFM home page click here.
  • To find out more about the rationale behind the ADFM click here.
  • To read more about the first ADFM meeting in Melbourne in August 2015 click here.
  • To read more about the second ADFM meeting in Bangkok in January 2016 click here.
  • To read more about the third ADFM meeting in Kuala Lumpur in September 2016 click here.
  • To read more about the fourth ADFM meeting in Jakarta in March 2017 click here.
  • To read more about the fifth ADFM meeting in Manila in September 2017 click here.
  • To read more about the sixth ADFM meeting in Sydney in March 2018 click here.