In January 2016, the Government of Belize, with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), hosted the Preparatory Meeting for a Regional Consultative Process (RCP) for the Caribbean, which led to the establishment of the CMC. Representatives of 8 Caribbean Governments attended the meeting. Delegates stressed that “coordinated policies were required at a regional level to ensure consistent approaches to common problems and that a regional dialogue on these issues was not only desired but essential".
On these lines, the CMC will function as a forum adapted to the Caribbean to provide a platform for Caribbean countries to discuss and coordinate issues related to migration. The priority issues identified by delegations for the next discussion in a RCP in 2016 were: 1. Collection of data, intelligence, security, and analysis of issues related to migration. 2. Consultations on systematic migration policies. 3. Good practices on the issue of refugees and vulnerable migrants (such as victims of trafficking). It was agreed at this meeting in Belize that the first meeting of the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC) would take place in Trinidad and Tobago during the second half of 2016.
As a result, the First Technical Workshop on Caribbean Countries was held 5-8 December 2016 in Port of Spain, organized by the Ministry of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago, with the support of UNHCR and IOM. During the opening event, Ms. Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews, Chief of Immigration at the Ministry of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago, emphasized that regional collaboration is important in developing common approaches and achieving results that benefit the entire Caribbean. And Robert Natiello, Coordinator for the Caribbean of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) explained that "by identifying shared interests of its members and enabling states to better understand each other's perspectives, RCPs promote inter-state dialogue, the sharing of information and collaborative approaches to migration."
The IOM-led two-day workshop brought together the officers responsible for Border Management (directors or sub-directors) and 31 representatives, 16 from Caribbean countries, including representatives from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. Also present were officers from the Netherlands and the US, two of the four continental countries with territories between the islands, missing France and the United Kingdom.
The participation of CARICOM IMPACS (Enforcement Agency for Crime and Security) and the Regional Conference on Migration was also welcomed. During the workshop, states emphasized the need to develop and / or improve Standard Operating Procedures, the importance of sharing information between countries, and the need for communication spaces such as that provided by the CMC. IOM also presented diversity of good practices in border management, including the Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS), a computer program for border management developed by IOM that allows states to collect, process and record information for the purpose of traveler identification, data collection, and analysis.
IOM also took the opportunity to share the developed online Caribbean Information Platform for Migration Governance in order to stimulate the process and support interaction among participants. It was very well received and approved by the representatives of the countries to be used for these purposes. As a next step, participants agreed on the importance of consolidating another Regional Technical Network on migrant smuggling and trafficking, to exchange information on early warnings related to migratory flows, and to develop national and regional trafficking protocols. This new Regional Technical Network, among other activities identified by the Caribbean countries, such as the need to improve the collection of migratory data, will continue to cement the path towards the consolidation of the CMC.