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India Chairs First Meeting of the Colombo Process

Under India’s leadership, on 28 June 2024, the Colombo Process membership convened at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. This Permanent Representative Level Meeting is the first with India as its Chair. The group discussed the future direction of the Colombo Process and India’s priorities during the latter’s two-year Chairmanship.

Shri Muktesh Pardeshi, Secretary (CPV and OIA), Ministry of External Affairs, delivered a special address as the Chair-in-Office. He highlighted India’s commitment to enhancing collaboration among member states of the Colombo Process and furthering the organisation’s objectives. India presented an outline of the work plan for the next two years, focusing on initiatives and critical priorities. India reiterated its commitment to improving the skills of the Member States’ workforce to meet the demands of the global labour market. Other priorities include fostering partnerships with destination countries and enhancing regional cooperation. It indicates India’s commitment to improving conditions and opportunities for its workforce and the neighbouring region.

The Ministry of External Affairs, India, enlisted six priorities under India’s leadership that the Colombo Process would focus on. They are:

(a) Reconfiguring technical-level collaborations

(b) Broadening the membership by including new member states and observers

(c) Reviewing the financial sustainability of the Colombo Process

(d) Implementing a structured rotation for the chairmanship

(e) Engaging in dialogues with the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) and other regional processes

(f) Conducting a regional review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration or the GCM.

Ms. Devandas welcomed India to the new role of Chair of the Colombo Process. She represents the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for Partnerships, Advocacy and Communications. She also highlighted the influential role played by the Colombo Process in improving migration outcomes for all. Ms. Devandas also highlighted the IOM’s dedication to protecting and promoting the migrant workers’ rights and facilitating their regular, safe, orderly migration.

The ‘Regional Consultative Process on the Management of Overseas Employment and Contractual Labour for Countries of Origin in Asia’ or the Colombo Process was established in 2003. It consists of 12 South and Southeast Asian countries that serve as the origins of migrant workers. Member-states drive this non-binding regional consultative process on migration. It facilitates cooperation and dialogue on labour migration mobility and governance and helps introduce the best practices for managing overseas employment.

India assumed the role of the chair of the Colombo Process for the first time since its establishment in May 2024. The Process plays a vital role in managing regional cooperation on migration issues. India’s leadership will ensure a renewed engagement of all member states in fostering migration for organised overseas employment.