The 109th Session of the UN Migration Agency’s Council, which opened in Geneva on November 27, voted to support the application of the Republic of Uzbekistan to join he International Organization for Migration (IOM) as a Member State, bringing the total membership to 173.

The item was included into the Council Session agenda on the request of the Uzbek Government, which is represented at the Session by Mr. Bahodir Nizomov, Deputy Minister of Employment and Labor Relations.

Uzbekistan is the most populous of the Central Asian states, and the last to join IOM.

At last week’s Asian Human Rights Forum, safeguarding the rights of migrants was included into the Samarkand Declaration of Human Rights, on IOM’s initiative.  The relevant text reads: "States shall strive to ensure the respect, protection and fulfillment of the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their migration status and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals".

IOM’s partnership with Uzbekistan started in 2003, when IOM began delivering direct assistance to victims of human trafficking and vulnerable migrants from Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries.  Since 2015 the cooperation has been steadily growing, with two Joint Work-plans accomplished so far, and earlier this year IOM had a two-year Cooperation Roadmap for 2018-2019, approved by the Uzbek Government.  

Uzbekistan borders Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.  With a population of almost 33 million, the country is not only the most populous but also the most migrant-sending in the region. Now with opening borders, it is also becoming a transit territory for migrants from neighboring countries. Its currently high growth rates may eventually lead to it becoming a destination country for migrants.