IOM strengthens dialogue on labor migration and socioeconomic development in the three countries of the Dutch Caribbean

6 June, 2019


May 9-10, 2019. Willemstad, Curaçao. The Social Economic Councils of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten held a Symposium on Migration and Socioeconomic Development, Challenges, and Policy Options on May 9 and 10, 2019, in Curaçao, in which representatives from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) presented on topics related to maximizing the benefits of migration, formal participation in the workforce, and opportunities for regional cooperation in the Caribbean.

During the symposium, participants explored policy options for maximizing the benefits and minimizing the costs of labor migration in terms of sustainable socioeconomic development in the three countries. Participants also included representatives of the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Embassy of Canada in Bogota, the University of Curaçao, the University of Sint Maarten, and the Think to DO Institute.

Addressing how the countries can better participate at the regional level, Brendan Tarnay, IOM Sub-regional Program Coordinator to the Caribbean, stated that, “With migration, it is imperative to overcome isolation and put migration on the table as a cross-cutting issue to be addressed across ministries and departments in a whole of government approach.”

The conference was held after the countries of the Dutch Caribbean agreed that cooperation between them was necessary, given that they face similar problems in the areas of population policy and socioeconomic development. Some of the primary challenges identified are: prolonged economic stagnation, an aging population, human capital flight, a social welfare system under pressure, an unbalanced labor market, the socioeconomic crisis in Venezuela, and irregular migration in general.

“The islands can support each other in the field of developing strategic migration policies, based on lessons learned and best practices of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the region and elsewhere” stated the Social Economic Council in a press release.

You can find more information on the websites of SER Aruba, SER Curaçao, and SER Sint Maarten ( / / or by emailing