Migration Development and Global Governance: Two views in comparison

In this conversation, Alexander Betts (University of Oxford) and Loren Landau & Tara Polzer (University of Witwatersrand) share their contrasting views about migration, development and global governance.

In his interview on migration and development that was published on the SID Forum on 22 November 2010, Alexander Betts pointed out that there are significant numbers of people who are displaced across international borders and who risk falling outside the framework of international refugee law. As a response, the acknowledgment of these people's conditions and their identification as 'survival migrants', can contribute to making human rights systems and instruments working better.

Taking a different perspective Loren Landau and Tara Polzer reveal their reluctance around the idea of a new term to strengthen the recognition of human rights and wonder about the concrete impact that this may bring. They explain that a concept alone can do nothing to alter the situation of powers and interests that hinder the implementation of international law. 

For Alexander Betts, however, the concept of survival migration is not about simply creating a new categorization; nor it is conceived to create new institutions; rather it is about improving the existing ones by drawing attention to lack of language and knowledge about a certain group of people who are forced to move for a given set of reasons.

Moving on from the definition of 'survival migration' to the broader issue of global governance of migration, they present their different views and positions about relevance and impact of international laws and institutions with regard to the protection of refugees and migrants. If on one side Alexander firmly believes that international mechanisms laws and structures, although not always providing all of the answers needed, are a fundamental part of the process of recognition and protection of refugees/migrant's rights and entitlements; Loren & Tara on the other side argue that the local politics and the local dynamics are what matter most and without devoting proper attention to local adaptation, the benefits of international policy reforms are undermined.

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This conversation is a follow up of the interview with Alexander Betts  on migration and development, that was published on the SID Forum on 22 November 2010.


Conversation facilitated by Angela Zarro

Photo: victoriapeckham/flickr