Interest in data on migration is not new. Discussions concerning the need to coordinate statistics on international migration date to the late 19th Century. In 1891, meetings were held at the congress of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) in Vienna to discuss the development of a standard definition of the term “international migrant”. Furthermore, at the meeting of the ISI in Budapest in 1901, the need was highlighted to differentiate between statistical data on permanent and temporary migration.[1]

With the establishment of the United Nations Organization, new progress was made regarding the development and harmonization of statistical data on migration. The different agencies of the United Nations system have made the need clear to improve statistics, since international migration patterns have an impact on the demographic, social, environmental, political and economic situation in each country. With around 258 million persons currently estimated to be residing outside their country of birth, the stakes in migration governance are increasing (IOM and McKinsey & Company, 2018). Population movements present policy challenges across a myriad of dimensions ranging from labour market participation to border management, and require coordination among various stakeholders including government, civil society organizations and the private sector. In light of these growing challenges, data is critical to enable improved migration governance and to drive economic, humanitarian, social and political benefits (IOM and McKinsey & Company, 2018, p. 24).

In many cases, organizations and institutions producing and disseminating information on migration at the national level share the data they generate through information management platforms or systems at the regional or subregional level. The aspiration to establish such platforms in Latin America and the Caribbean is not new. In the 1970s various information systems were implemented (IOM, 2013c). The first systems include the Investigation of International Migration in Latin America project (IMILA) created for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) by the Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Centre (CELADE, Population Division of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean - ECLAC). In OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation Development), for example, the SOPEMI (Continuous Reporting System on Migration) is in place, which was established in 1973.

In the 1980s qualitative information systems were established, that is, databases including definitions and concepts, regulations, documents, etc.; for example, the Centre for Information on Migration in Latin America (CIMAL) and the International Migration Law Database, both established within the sphere of IOM (IOM 2013c). Furthermore, in the 1990 the Andean Community Information System on International Migration (SIMICA) was created, which operated in 1996-1998, as well as the Statistical Information System on Migrations in Central America (SIEMCA), which became the Statistical Information System on Migrations in Mesoamerica (SIEMMES) in 2005 and will be taken up again by this project.

More recently, the Continuous Reporting System on International Migration in the Americas (SICREMI) was launched around 2009, developed within the context of the Organization of American States (OAS). The general objective of SICREMI is to contribute to the implementation and development of public policy on migration with the aim of promoting orderly, fair and controlled migration processes, through capacity-building aimed at generating timely and reliable information in the Member States of OAS (IOM 2012). SICREMI collects data from various sources, such as censuses, surveys, administrative records, etc. The system processes and disseminates data on the magnitude, trends and characteristics of international migration in the region. SICREMI is based on the model of the Continuous Reporting System on Migration (SOPEMI). Data are collected from various national sources and the system organizes them in a homogeneous and standardized manner (IOM 2012).

The Statistical Information System on Migrations in Mesoamerica (SIEMMES) was a project implemented together with the Central American Commission of Migration Directors (OCAM) and IOM from 2001 to 2007 and was transferred to the Institute of Social Studies in Population of the National University of Costa Rica (IDESPO) in 2007.

SIEMMES originally gathered statistical data on migration and, based on that information, generated a series of products related to migration and made them available to users through a website. The products could be downloaded through a consultation system.

As reported to Caribbean Migrations Consultations during the meeting on migration data management and collection held in Jamaica on 24-25 September 2018, and to OCAM during its XLVII Ordinary Meeting held on 5-6 November in Belize, IOM is carrying out a process to renew this platform. Thanks to the generosity of OCAM, its Member Countries are actively participating in the relaunch of the new platform, to be known as the Regional Platform for Migration Information (Plataforma Regional de Información sobre Migración) within the framework of a project on Regional Strengthening for the Production and Analysis of Information on Migration in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean, in accordance with Agreement 11 of the meeting.

[1] This Institute adopted additional resolutions on internationally comparable migration statistics at its meetings in Rome (1926), Warsaw (1929) and Madrid (1931) (Percy and Gnanasekaran, 1987, p.969).