Contrary to other global initiatives, the operating modalities for the GFMD process were not formalized by the UN General Assembly, nor were they extensively discussed during the High-Level Dialogue, with the exception of some general guidelines, for example on the state-led character of the GFMD and the fact that it should not produce negotiated outcomes or normative decisions or duplicate existing initiatives.
During the first meeting in Brussels in 2007, the GFMD Operating Modalities were endorsed, which aimed at ensuring sufficient continuity and practical support for the incoming Chairs of the Forum. The Operating Modalities provide mainly an initial structuring framework to 'organize' GFMD chairing arrangements and funding and support to the Chair. The Modalities provide for the creation of a supporting framework that includes a Troika (the past, current and future Chairs), a Steering Group (comprised of a manageable number of governments that lend strategic and political support to the Chair), a consultative body called the Friends of the Forum (all States Members and Observers of the United Nations), and a light support unit to assist the Chair-in-Office with its administrative, financial and logistical needs.
The Modalities also refer to the creation of a network of national focal points designated by the Governments to liaise with the Chair-in-Office and to coordinate GFMD-related preparations at the national level, thereby fostering greater policy coherence in development and migration policy fields. In addition, the Modalities provide for the creation of thematic ad hoc Working Groups, which came to fruition in 2009 with the establishment of two ad hoc Working Groups – one on protecting and empowering migrants for development and another on policy coherence, data and research.
As the Forum continued to evolve, the 2007 Operating Modalities were reviewed and discussed by states participating in the GFMD during a two-year assessment exercise that began in 2011 and completed in 2012. The GFMD Consolidated Assessment Report, endorsed at the GFMD 2012 Summit Meeting in Mauritius in November 2012, concluded that the Operating Modalities were broad enough and thus still valid and applicable. To clarify certain issues and strengthen the GFMD process and structures. the report noted that some minor amendments may be considered in the future by the Steering Group and Friends of the Forum.