The global debate on migration is characterised by a (re-) emerging concern with the elaboration of an international framework for migration ‘manage­ment’ in form of state cooperation.

This is indicative of the continuing salience of migration in its two major manifestations: (i) economic migration (work) and (ii) forced migration ow­ing to persecution (asylum). Parallel concerns have been expressed by certain UN agencies, INGOs and academics about the side-lining of human rights and, thus, the obstructing of social justice. This means that although this shift in the migration policy debate to focus on international cooperation is primarily concerned with control over entry and exit as well as the prevention of irregular migration, broader human rights issues as well as the rights of foreign workers have indeed entered into the discussion and thus, a concern for the basic units of analysis of migration: the migrants themselves. But it is yet to be seen to what extent serious efforts toward implementation of migrants’ rights are made. Given the different interests involved on the part of various stakeholders, the push for greater cooperation poses serious challenges to the upholding and advancing of the human rights of migrants.

Consequently, one of the central questions raised by the Centre’s current projects is: Are these two trends—managing migration and the protection of migrants’ rights—going hand in hand or do they constitute conflicting areas of concern and policy (with rights issues being sidelined)? And if so how to reconcile this? The first step toward ensuring that control and protection aspects are part of migration policies is by way of reaching broad social consensus via an informed debate. Related to this is the question of whether existing legal regimes and policies are the product of social dialogue?  To what extent does the institutional architecture on the global (UN), national and regional level provide opportunities for voicing alternative views on policy making?

Our research projects in this area investigate policy-making processes as well as institutional and legal regulation in the area of migration by taking a multi-sited, multi-layered approach to ‘governance’. In this regard, we bridge legal scholarship with studies on social movements and public policy.