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Regional Migration Governance (R_eMigra)
A human-rights analysis of emerging mobility regimes

Final Report Summary - R_EMIGRA (Regional Migration Governance (R_eMigra)A human-rights analysis of emerging mobility regimes)

Regional migration governance is gaining momentum in different academic disciplines. Recent legal developments reveal how regional approaches to regulate migratory flows are proliferating with specific variations that reflect different negotiating priorities. The central focus of the project is on how developing regional legal orders, in particular ASEAN and MERCOSUR, may accomplish broader goals, and overcome practical challenges, such as protecting human rights or promoting free movement of individuals.
The R_eMigra project built on the “voluminous” literature available, to undertake a legal analysis and identify how regional initiatives on standards affect the development of the global migratory framework. In particular, it explored how different normative layers interact in the context of multilevel migration governance by focusing on three processes: international law–regional law; regional law–domestic law; and international law–domestic law.
This allowed specific insights to be gained on how the consolidation of regional space has the potential to increase the protection of migrant workers against discrimination in their enjoyment of social rights, while identifying the salient features of regionalism as “stumbling blocks or building blocks” in international migration law.
The main research question was: How might regional legal regimes impact the human rights–migration nexus? focusing on the way in which regionalism in the context of migration regulations can facilitate the adoption of new solutions that the sovereign state is not capable of implementing by itself.
To address these issues the project conducted an in-depth legal analysis of ASEAN and MERCOSUR, using them as regional test laboratories for the development of migration standards. Finally, it focused on a domestic approach considering the progressive implementation of the process of liberalization of skilled labour mobility in Thailand and labour mobility in Argentina to provide a full picture for a multilevel framework.
With respect to the methodology, 31 interviews were conducted during fieldwork in Bangkok (17 interviews), Argentina (12 interviews) and Geneva (3 interviews). The interviews included various key stakeholders: international organizations (e.g. International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Forum Human Rights MERCOSUR), academic experts in migration studies, government officials (Ministry of Trade) and migrant workers from member states within and outside the study regions (from Myanmar, Philippines, Japan, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Italy, Belgium, and Germany).
The conventional debate between regionalism and universalism in this specific context seems to cast a positive light on the role played by regional regimes. In particular, it can facilitate the elaboration of more favourable norms for migrant workers and it can achieve a progressive harmonization of domestic standards facilitated by the regional integration process.
The analysis focuses on the importance of regionalism as a strategy for “nurturing” special norms in the contested and monopolized domain of migration and eventually for “implanting” them at the global level. Both regional case studies are illustrative of a growing interest in cooperation in the context of migration – developing specific treaty regimes with a regional dimension – albeit in the ASEAN case, still at a very embryonic stage.
Migrant workers interconnect domestic legal orders. This phenomenon can be labelled as legal connectivity and a peculiar aspect of this web of different sources is how they enter into dialogue through the principle of coordination, for instance. This constructive perspective identifies regionalism as “the glue” that can link different normative layers together, to facilitate their interaction and enable them to adjust to future circumstances.
Several activities have been undertaken to disseminate the results of the project, in particular through participation at international conferences (see Regional Conference of the Asian Society of International Law in Vietnam) and at the Asia-Europe People Forum in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Apart from presenting its findings, the project enabled collaborations with international organizations, such as the ILO, and academic centres, such as the University of Seville. A key result of the project was the consolidation of an international cooperation network to stimulate the theoretical development of the project and to arrange the interviews during the research stay. (For additional information on the project see The role of regional legal orders in the making of a global migratory framework, CLM Working Paper (