Asia’s Largest Border Management Conference Presents Solutions to Global Mobility and Identity Governance Challenges
Bangkok – Following a four-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 6th Border Management and Identity Conference (BMIC) – Asia’s largest gathering focused on identity and border management – was held in Bangkok this week (7-9 December).
Close to 400 border management specialists convened from around the world, for what is normally a biennial event, organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Asia Pacific Smart Card Association (APSCA), under the auspices of the Royal Thai Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The theme this year was Solutions to Minimize Disruption to Cross-Border Movements of People and Trade While Safeguarding National Security during Crises.
Since the first BMIC in 2010, this event has become the largest gathering of government authorities and other agencies specializing in the areas of civil registration, customs, home affairs, immigration, justice, health, population management and public security. The conference’s sixth edition saw participants exchange new developments, best practices and lessons learned in the context of emerging global trends.
Representatives from Ukraine and neighbouring countries emphasized the role of effective identity management in facilitating smooth entry and exit procedures and combatting trafficking and smuggling. Stakeholders further stressed the need for stronger preparedness and, moving forward, committed to explore innovative financing solutions for such measures.
Meanwhile, representatives from Pacific Immigration Development Community (PIDC) member states steered discussions on climate change-induced displacement, sharing progress on the development of a regional framework on climate mobility. Following additional inputs from Mozambique, stakeholders identified priority areas of work, including enhancing data on climate displacement and civil registration for displaced people.
A separate workshop focused on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, with case studies from Rwanda and Sri Lanka. Private sector representatives presented new technologies that could help countries continue to safely reopen borders while mitigating public health risks.
In his opening remarks delivered via video, António Vitorino, IOM Director General, highlighted that “effective border and identity management, and the pursuit of related technological advancements, depend upon being able to protect the rights of people on the move.” He added: "We must find ways to manage identity securely, to protect cross-border travellers and migrants from organized crime, including traffickers and smugglers, and identity fraud."
“The conference has never before been so focused on global events that have disrupted, or are disrupting, the cross-border migration and mobility of people and trade,” emphasized Greg Pote, APSCA Chairman, on the timeliness of the conference.
“We stand in a very crucial time in migration management,” echoed Narong Boonsatheanwong, Acting Director-General, Department of Consular Affairs of Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “[BMIC] has become one of the most crucial and influential flagship programmes to explore key solutions.”
Throughout the three days, the conference hosted an exhibition for industry partners featuring the latest solutions and technologies designed to improve the facilitation of cross-border movements while strengthening national security.