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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2001, Vol. 4 No. 2 .


Managing Migration: Time for a New International Regime?
Bimal Ghosh (ed.)

(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)
260pp. Biblio. Index. Hb.: 45.00; ISBN 0-19-829764-5.



Edited by Bimal Ghosh, the director of the NIROMP project (New International Regime for Orderly Movement of People), supported by the IOM (International Organization for Migration), Managing Migration, is a collection of nine essays written by prominent specialists. The various authors argue for an international regime to manage population movements, often characterized by unpredictable flows, difficulties of return, discrimination and mounting migration pressures due to poverty and wars. Individual states resent infringements of their sovereignty, while often unable to cope with migrant problems.

All nine essayists agree that the issues of migration need an international regime to integrate human rights concerns, economic development, peace and national security issues into a coherent international policy, while differing on the means. Miller argues for both bilateral and multilateral cooperation between states, and hopes that "regional regimes?(may) lead to transformation from a system dominated by sovereign national states to a gradual transcendence of the old system." (p 39) A plethora of international organizations, many of them facilitating socio-economic cooperation, can work towards an international migration regime. Other essayists point to globalization, with migration, and increased movement of transnational capital and workers, as components. Globalization blurs the concept of traditional state sovereignty and new methods of regulation become necessary. Hollifield calls the lack of an international migration policy the " 'missing regime' in a new international order." (p 101) However, he sees no central organizing principles and no working strategy for cooperation in this area. Furthermore globalization as a rationale does not present adequate solutions. Straubhaar echoes other commentators in arguing that "global games need global rules"(p 111), as more than 130 million people live outside the country of their birth, and many countries experience a "brain drain" (p 122). However the self-interest of states, seen as clubs competing for members (p 125), raises a number of economic and security issues, and at present having a universal right to migrate anywhere seems unthinkable. Straubhaar proposes a General Agreement on Movement of People (GAMP) to complement agreements such as GATT in the area of trade (pp 130-31). Loescher also endorses a comprehensive approach, and stresses the urgency of solutions to go beyond problems such as asylum, refugee status, refoulement and migrant workers. Commentators point out the clash between the liberal "open gates" and the restrictive "fortress" approaches to migration, while arguing that a consistent international policy can be achieved.


Gabriel S. Pellathy
Associate Professor of Political Science




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