His Life

Global Memorial Service for John

On 15 August 2022, an online global memorial service in honor of John K. Bingham was held. You may watch the service through the embedded Youtube video.

Memorial Service for John

Please join us for an online global memorial on 15 August 2022 at 3PM CET as we come together for our dear friend John.
Register here:
John Kennedy Bingham, whom many knew as John, Ken, or Dad, was a man full of compassion. He was a lawyer, a migrant, a social worker, and a human rights defender, who dedicated his life to advocating for the promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees. He was an inspiration to many through the gentleness, generosity and solidarity with which he treated all around him, serving others and striving to make each and everyone feel respected, included and valued.

A graduate of Fordham Law School and St. John’s University in New York, John worked for eight years in the legal department of a major Wall Street investment bank, where he was Vice President.

After working in Wall Street, John spent eight years teaching human rights and criminal justice in a refugee camp of 240,000 Cambodians in Thailand, and later business law at the university in Phnom Penh, where he co-authored two books, Free Market Contract Law and an English-Cambodian Law Dictionary.

From Cambodia, he went on to work for eight years at Catholic Charities in New York, where he was director of the departments of Immigrant and Refugee Services and later Capital Projects and Law. He also served as Chair of the Board of the New York Immigration Coalition, and on the migration advisory group of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In 2005, he joined the International Catholic Migration Commission as Head of Policy of ICMC in Geneva where he worked until 2018.

As Civil Society Organizations prepared for the first ever Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in 2007, John took the reins as a global civil society leader, fighting for civil society engagement in what was initially planned as a primarily States event.  Together with others, he led the fight for CSO and migrant representation in GFMD’s preparatory meetings. His legacy thereon would show that John accomplished so much for migrants and civil society with his passion, far beyond what many imagined as possible in those early days. Early breakthrough led to substantive civil society engagement at the United Nations High Level Dialogue (UN HLD)and the Global Compact for Migration (GCM).

After his departure from ICMC in 2018, he continued as an independent consultant and expert on global migration policy and governance. He served as an advisor to the Ecuadorian and UAE Chairs of the GFMD in 2018-2020. He was engaged as a consultant with the International Organization of Employers (IOE) in 2021 and continued to advise and serve as the Geneva Representative of the NGO Committee on Migration.

John’s passion and dedication were an inspiration to all who worked to improve the lives and the rights of migrants everywhere. All major advances in the migrants’ rights movement over the past decade and more had John’s mark on them, and often were primarily driven by him. This included the current civil society self-organized formations such as the GFMD’s Civil Society Mechanism and Coordinating Office; the Migration and Development (MADE) Civil Society Network, the predecessor to which coordinated regional and thematic civil society initiatives and projects between each GFMD summit; the Civil Society Action Committee (AC); the NGO Committee on Migration; and countless other civil society networks and formations. Through these initiatives and many others, he helped shape global migration governance, and created spaces for dialogue where concrete solutions for the well-being of migrants and societies could be found.

John continued to bring his unwavering energy and visionary focus to shape global civil society work and contributions to global migration governance, in his ability to see beyond processes and politics, and to remind us of the need to seek concrete solutions to improve migrants’ lives. Most recently, he was one of the initial co-authors of the AC’s 12 Key Ways advocacy paper for the first International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), and was often a featured panelist at the People’s Migration Challenge (PMC) webinars.

More than anything however, John left a personal touch on everyone he met and worked with. His genuine care and generosity for all, especially for the most humble and vulnerable, radiated around him. His commitment to migrants’ rights and lives stemmed from his deep personal commitment to the good of all.

We have lost a friend, brother, mentor, counsellor, and supporter. May the inspiration and energy of John remain with us forever.