Migration diplomacy in world politics

Fiona Adamson, Gerasimos Tsourapas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
703 Downloads (Pure)


Academic and policy debates on migration and refugee “crises” across the world have yet to engage fully with the importance of cross border population mobility for states’ diplomatic strategies. This article sets forth the concept of “migration diplomacy” as an object of analysis for academics and practitioners alike, distinguishing it from other forms of migration-related policies and practices. It draws on realist approaches in international relations to identify how the interests and power of state actors are affected by their position in migration systems, namely the extent to which they are migration-sending, migration-receiving, or transit states. The article then discusses how migration issues connect with other areas of state interest and diplomacy, including security interests, economic interests and issues of identity, soft power, and public diplomacy. Finally, the article suggests the utility of applying a rationalist framework based on states’ interests in absolute versus relative gains as a means of examining the bargaining strategies used by states in instances of migration diplomacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-128
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Studies Perspectives
Issue number2
Early online date19 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Migration
  • Diplomacy
  • Migration Diplomacy
  • Diasporas
  • Emigrants and Immigrants
  • immigrant
  • transit migration
  • Issue linkage
  • Bargaining
  • Refugees

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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