When migration policy isn't about migration: considerations for implementation of the global compact for migration

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The fluid use of terminology associated with migration governance can obscure its intention and implications. Different meanings of core terminology risks allowing troubling policies that are not really about migration, understood widely as border crossing, or even more broadly as human movement, to be legitimized. UN-level coordination with regard to migration governance needs to be part of addressing this concern. This includes explicitly engaging with this risk through the implementaiotn of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This article considers this issue from the perspectives of a handful of countries, each of which has its own complex relationship to the compact. It argues that in each of these apparently very different contexts, pòlicies identified as being directed at "migration control" can be found to be directednot at controlling migration but at reconfiguring existing and stable State societies along ethnic, racial, linguistic, and other lines. The development of implementaiton plans for the Global Comapct for Migration provides an opportunity to interrogate the purpose of migration governance an to find mechanisms to address its hidden uses.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-497
Number of pages17
JournalEthics & International Affairs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2019


  • Citizenship, Global Compact for Migration, Migration, Noncitizenship, Post-colonialism