On 29 March 2017, Nepal succeeded Sri Lanka as Chair of the Colombo Process (CP) at a ceremony at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Headquarters in Geneva. The Government of Sri Lanka was represented by Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka in Geneva, while Nepal was represented by Ambassador Deepak Dhital, the Permanent Representative of Nepal.
The Colombo Process or in full, the Regional Consultative Process on the Management of Overseas Employment and Contractual Labour for Countries of Origin in Asia, was established in 2003. It brings together 12 South and Southeast Asian labour sending countries in a member state-driven, non-binding regional consultative process on migration (RCP) to facilitate dialogue and cooperation on issues of common interest and concerns relating to labour mobility.
Ten years after chairing the CP for the first time, Sri Lanka assumed the CP Chair in 2013 under the theme "International Labour Migration for Prosperity: Adding Value by Working Together". During its tenure, five thematic working groups have been set up for CP member states to work together to consider how to: promote skills qualification and recognition; foster ethical recruitment; promote pre-departure orientation and empowerment, with an additional focus on migration and health; reduce the costs of remittances transfer; and track labour market trends.
In 2016 the CP agreed to consider expanding the thematic areas of focus by four more, namely: enhancing consular support for migrant workers; promoting migrant health; operationalizing the migration-related goals in the SDGs; and promoting equality of women migrant workers.
A self-funding mechanism was also negotiated by the CP Member States in Geneva and unanimously adopted at the last CP Ministerial Meeting in August 2016. The period also saw an expansion in the relations between the CP and other migration related Processes and Partners, including the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD), the European Union (EU), the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants.
In its capacity as the CP Chair for the next two years, Nepal is developing a program of priorities, including the CP potential contribution to the process of consultation on the Global Compact on Migration.
Ambassador Aryasinha said “Sri Lanka can look back with satisfaction to this period of stewardship, confident that it sought to tackle some of the most pressing issues faced by labour migrants of CP member countries; put in place some of the best practices to mitigate and overcome their problems; developed some of the most vital linkages between the sources of supply and demand; and strengthened both the institutional and financial capacity for the CP to be better prepared for the future.”
During the ceremony, the IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing congratulated Sri Lanka on its dynamism and perseverance as the CP Chair, leading to numerous achievements - notably through the establishment of the 5 Thematic Areas Working Groups, the negotiation of a self-funding mechanism, the updating of its operating modalities, the expansion of its regional interlocutors. Ambassador Swing commended Nepal for taking up the lead of this dynamic and very active Regional Consultative Process on Migration adding that IOM stood ready to continue supporting the Chair of the CP.
Ambassador Dhital noted Nepal’s gratitude to Sri Lanka for its outstanding leadership. “Nepal is honoured to have the opportunity to now serve as the CP Chair.”
Appreciating the progress and recent achievements of the CP, Ambassador Dhital also emphasized the importance of moving forward further action based on consensus of the CP member states. He also expressed the need to fit the activities of the CP into the larger whole of international initiatives in the field of migration and its management, such as the Global Forum for Migration and Development (GFMD), the relevant goals and targets of the SDGs and the Global Compact on Migration preparatory process.