William Lacy Swing

A Reflection of Progress

The world’s experience with globalisation — the widespread transfer of peoples, technologies and cultures — did not begin in our time. Scholars argue that it dates back to 1492, when European migration, together with movements of Asians, Africans and Native Americans, forged the global relationships that help shape life to this day.

Migration is Our History, Reality and Future

People have always been on the move. Migration is not a catastrophe, nor is it an invasion. Often, it is not even an emergency. Throughout human history it has mostly been, simply, one thing: inevitable.

IOM Statement on South Sudan

"IOM is deeply concerned by the resumption of violence in Juba five years after independence," IOM Director General William Swing said in a statement issued in Geneva. 

Let’s Make Sure We Talk About Migrants at the World Humanitarian Summit

Words are the most precious things we have. We’ve been using them pretty appallingly of late, creating a world where people are castigated for trying to get their families out of the way of falling bombs.

IOM Urges Leaders to Boost Action on Climate Migration after Paris Agreement Signing

As the Director General of the only agency with a global footprint that works on migration, I chaired a High Level Panel on Human Mobility in a Changing Climate during last year’s COP 21 in Paris. 

Message du Directeur général de l’OIM à l’occasion de la Journée internationale de la femme 2016

Genève, Suisse - A l’occasion de la Journée internationale de la femme 2016, l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) réaffirme son engagement sans faille en faveur

IOM Director General’s Message on International Women’s Day 2016

Geneva, Switzerland – On International Women’s Day 2016, IOM reaffirms its unwavering commitment to gender equality and empowerment for women.

Counting the Missing Migrants

New technology and better cooperation can account for the dead, taking their families out of limbo, write IOM Director General William Lacy Swing and Director General o

3 Things Governments Need to do to Solve Migration Crises


Photo courtesy of Frontex/Malavolta 2015

By William Lacy Swing

In a world where migration has become a phenomenon of our time and is due to increase, my biggest concern is how to save the lives of migrants taking dangerous routes – by sea and land – to flee violence or poverty.

Migration Comes of Age

By William Lacy Swing
First published in Strategic Review

This is the age of migration. There have, of course, been times of great population flow: the mass movements at the end of World War II, or the early years of the 20th century, when the populations of US cities began to surge. Others would point to the move across the Western United States, or further back to the age of colonialism and exploration by Europe.

But I firmly contend that migration, as it exists right now, is the mega-trend of our times, and is ineffably changing the world as we know and experience it.

We’re Failing Today’s Boat People

By William Lacy Swing

In 1975, the world acted to save Boat People from Indochina; the Boat People of today are ignored

Forty years ago this spring, the world witnessed one of the turning points of the Cold War: the closing of the U.S. Embassy in South Vietnam, followed quickly by the panicked evacuation of Americans and their allies from the region and then the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of so-called Boat People fleeing from Vietnam into the South China Sea.