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The overall objective of the IMER programme 2005 - 2010 is to enhance research-based knowledge and improve understanding of the significance of international migration and ethnic diversity for Norwegian society.

Research projects are - to the degree possible - to be cross-disciplinary, comparative and internationally oriented, and should be perceived as relevant, valuable and useful for decision-makers, other users and those to whom the research pertains.

The IMER programme will give priority to research and other activities in the thematic priority areas of labour market integration; the economic, legal and social aspects of the life and history of immigrants in Norwegian society; and international and transnational conditions arising from migration and integration. Perspectives based on the field of law, gender dimensions and concepts such as social capital and discrimination will play a central role, as will the development of theory and methodology. The programme board will allocate resources for strategic activities in the field, including the preparation of state-of-the-art reviews and measures to enhance the overall dissemination of research findings in the field.

On 31 March 2005 the board of the Division for Strategic Priorities at the Research Council approved the establishment of a new IMER programme for the period 2005-2010. The programme board was appointed in September 2005, and the work programme was approved on 16 March 2006. Since the mid-1980s, the Research Council has administered various research programmes in the field of migration and integration. In 1993 the Research Programme for International Migration and Ethnic Relations was established. Subsequent programmes in this field have gone by this name as well. Although there was no separate IMER programme in 2002 - 2005, some projects were funded during this period to ensure a certain degree of continuity in research on IMER-related topics.