Celebrating 30 Years of Progress: Budapest Process Hits Milestone in 2023

In the dynamic landscape of migration, 2023 stood out as a pivotal year for the Budapest Process, marking three decades of impactful collaboration. From in-person gatherings to virtual dialogues, the year was enriched by many activities that engaged government officials and experts from all Budapest Process states. Most importantly, discussions surrounding the next and 7th Ministerial Conference of the Budapest Process were initiated.

2023 in a few numbers:

  • 8 dialogue meetings held online and in person in Bulgaria and Türkiye
  • over 400 participants representing 48 countries and various international organisations. Discussions revolved around crucial goals: combating irregular migration, fostering legal pathways, facilitating return and reintegration, and combating migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons.

December 2023: Senior Officials Meeting in Istanbul celebrating 30 years of the Budapest process

Recap of 2023: A Year of Action

The year kicked off with the virtual 3rd Meeting of the Community of Law Enforcement Practitioners (COLEP) on 4 May 2023. COLEP is the operational arm of the Budapest Process Thematic Working Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation. Law enforcement officials from over 10 countries converged to strategise against cybercrime and bolster efforts to combat smuggling and trafficking.

Furthermore Law Enforcement Cooperation was enhanced through a thematic meeting on Integrated Border Management with a focus on the Silk Routes Region, namely Bangladesh, Iraq and Pakistan. The meeting was held on 4-5 October 2023 in Sofia, Bulgaria. The meeting chaired by Bulgaria and Iraq discussed several good practices and opportunities for strategic and operational cooperation for engagement on Integrated Border Management (IBM) with a focus on Silk Routes countries’ specific needs. This meeting was followed by the 4th Meeting of COLEP, where law enforcement practitioners from its 12 member countries presented real-life case studies to illustrate good practices in international cooperation against smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons and where a table-top exercise of a fictional smuggling case was presented and worked through by all participants.

Under the 2nd Thematic Working Group which focuses on Return and Reintegration, a pivotal meeting took place on 31 May 2023, in Istanbul. The meeting, co-chaired by Bangladesh and Türkiye, discussed and assessed concrete opportunities for cooperation using the newly developed Budapest Process Roadmap on Return and Reintegration. The Roadmap is a living document and lists various actions that could be implemented for enabling:effective returns management, post-arrival assistance and referral mechanisms and sustainable reintegration of returnees in the Silk Routes Region. Discussions also emphasized the need for robust legal frameworks and holistic support systems for returnees.

The year culminated with the Annual Senior Officials Meeting on 5 December 2023 in Istanbul. This event not only marked the 33rd gathering of the Budapest Process Senior Officials but also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Budapest Process. The meeting served as the First Preparatory meeting for the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Budapest Process, planned in Budapest in November 2024. Senior Officials shared comments on the draft  Ministerial Declaration and Action Plan and overall welcomed its new structure and content..

June 2023: Budapest Process Thematic Working Group Meeting on Return and Reintegration

Looking Forward: Charting the Course for 2024 and Beyond

As 2024 unfolds, the Budapest Process Chairmanship will focus its efforts on preparations for the 7th Ministerial Conference scheduled for November 2024 in Budapest, Hungary. The Ministerial Declaration and its Action Plan, which will be endorsed during the conference, will provide strategic direction for the next five years (2025-2030).

In anticipation of the Ministerial Conference, a series of meetings at Senior Official level, including Reference Group Meetings and Senior Officials Meetings, are proposed to support the negotiations. Additionally, in order to ensure a comprehensive approach to migration management in the region, thematic meetings will continue under the three established working groups, focusing on irregular migration, migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons, return and reintegration, legal migration, and labour mobility.

The Budapest Process remains committed to fostering cooperation among its participating states, addressing key migration challenges, and advancing its agenda for the benefit of all stakeholders involved.

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