IOM Launches the Network of Legal Experts on Migration in West and Central Africa
Lomé - IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa has convened an inaugural meeting in Lomé, Togo, of the network of legal experts on migration, the first of its kind in the region.
Legal scholars and practitioners from civil society and academia in nine countries in West and Central Africa took part in the launch of the initiative, which seeks to further the development of migration law and policy across the region, through expert analysis and dialogue.
Ultimately, the goal is to enable the experts, selected through a competitive process spearheaded by a steering committee, to contribute to the formulation of evidence-based national and regional migration policy and legislation in line with international standards and African Union norms and policies.
Sophie Nonnenmacher, IOM’s Deputy Regional Director commented that “IOM wants to give greater visibility and resources to local experts, and to ensure that human rights-based approaches and legal perspectives are at the heart of migration policy-making in the region.”
The network aims to generate knowledge, and create a platform to foster debate, develop connections and showcase research, facilitating exchange of expertise between individuals (including members and policymakers or legislators), organisations and authorities. It also seeks to promote information-sharing on migration dynamics and priorities in WCA, and to curate an accessible collection of national and regional migration law, policy, and commentary.
During the inaugural meeting, the legal experts spent two days developing strong foundations for the network’s future activities, and strengthening relations between the members, the Steering Committee and IOM by familiarising with each other’s work, priorities, and approaches. The group refined the objectives and work plan of the network, and identified key thematic priorities, including climate change, the health-migration nexus, trafficking and protection, and free movement.
“The network is a much-needed platform for legal experts previously working in silos across West and Central Africa to bring their expertise to advocate for regional, continental and international commitments to the rights of migrants,” commented Professor Cheluchi Onyemelukwe, the network’s member from Nigeria. “I am proud to be part of this selected group and I am looking forward to the brilliant and necessary contributions it is sure to make.”
In the coming months, the network will be expanded to cover more countries: IOM encourages legal experts in the region to stay tuned for more.