The (ab)normality of migration and the legal position of migrants under international law

Call for blog submissions

The ESIL Interest Group on Migration and Refugee Law seeks to organize a blog symposium in the Fall/Winter of 2014 on the topic of the (ab)normality of migration.

Migration is a normal part of life, and always has been. Cells migrate, birds migrate and, of course, humans migrate. Human migration is a constant in the history of the world. Migrants make up a steady 3% of the world’s population. As the world’s population grew, the number of migrants grew with it. But this has not changed the percentage: it continues to be roughly 3%. People have always sought new and better homes, for varying reasons. Of course, some of the underlying reasons for migration should not be accepted as normal, such as persecution, war and natural disasters. However, such forced migration only accounts for a small percentage of overall migration. Moreover, the causes of a phenomenon should not be conflated with the phenomenon itself: the observation that some of the causes for migration are not normal does not detract from the fact that migration is a normal phenomenon.

Despite the normalcy of migration, it appears that we have come to treat migration more and more as an abnormality in recent times. Many policies bear testimony to this development; one need only think of increasing restrictions on family reunification, measures of migration-related detention, and the introduction of civic integration tests. At the same time, countries crucially depend on migration; either upon the (un)skilled workforce it delivers, or upon the revenue it creates. Policies introduced therefore aim to limit and shape migration, so that only the wanted embark on the journey. Migration is thus increasingly seen as an abnormal phenomenon that must be controlled, and the person of the migrant has become the object of such limiting, discouraging, and/or selective policies. The question therefore arises what this means in terms of the legal position of migrants under international law.

The blog symposium will feature three or four longer contributions by different members of the interest group. The objective of the blog symposium is two-fold. First, members select a policy and describe how, according to them, it fits within the broader trend identified above. Second, members critically engage with the selected policy and analyse how it affects the legal position of migrants under international law. The blog symposium will preferably be published on EJIL:Talk! which, in light of its large following and professional approach, is the most appropriate outlet. Contributions are not subject to a word limit, but should in principal not exceed 1000 words. Contributions are reviewed by the Coordinating Committee of the interest group and/or editors of EJIL:Talk!.

Members of the Interest Group are invited to participate in this symposium. If you would like to do so, please send an e-mail to lisa-marie.komp [at] by Wednesday, November 5.

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