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National Sovereignty, Globalisation, and Securitisation of International Migration

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Publication date: 09/29/2016

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International migration has been steadily increasing in every region of the globe since the end of World War II. In recent times, individual mobility has increased enormously. Today, approximately 200 million people live outside the country where they were born, while tens of millions of people regularly cross borders. International mobility is part of a broader trend of globalisation, which includes trade in goods and services, investments and capital flows, greater ease of travel, and a veritable explosion of information. While trade and capital flows are often regarded as the twin pillars of globalisation, migration is often overlooked, especially among scholars of international relations. International migration is a key issue of our time. Large-scale international migration into Europe became a key issue across the region in the summer of 2015, when more than one million people arrived on Europe’s shores; most of them were fleeing political and/or economic turmoil. Specific issues included the multifaceted aftermath of the Arab Spring; continuing political, social, and economic ramifications of Syria’s civil war; declining state capacity in Iraq and Pakistan; state collapse in Afghanistan; and intra-Muslim sectarian violence across much of the Middle East. These individual factors coalesced in the context of globalisation and its effects upon national sovereignty. In Europe, right-wing populists are thriving on the divisions linked to these developments. In the USA, the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, is building impressive electoral support. He claims that, as president, he would stop illegal migration from Mexico into the USA by building an impassable wall on America’s southern border, which he would compel ‘Mexico to pay for’. Today, political conditions in both Europe and the USA are reflective of many people’s approach to politics: they fear ‘uncontrolled migration’. This was manifested recently in the UK, where the vote to ‘Brexit’ from the European Union reflected a widespread belief that migration into the UK was ‘out of control’. Add to this the impact – and fear – of Islamist terrorism, and the result is an unprecedented ‘securitisation’ of international migration in Europe and the USA. This commentary focuses on the interactions between national sovereignty, globalisation, and the securitisation of international migration.

Jeffrey Haynes

Professor of Politics, Director of Faculty Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities and Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion, Conflict and Cooperation

Jeff teaches in the area of religion and politics/international relations. He currently supervises a number of postgraduate research students and welcomes further applications from suitably qualified candidates. Please apply via the University's research degrees page. If you would like an informal conversation about applying for PhD in the faculty, please contact Jeff at 020 7133 5080 or at jeff.haynes@londonmet.ac.uk. Jeff is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of more than 40 books. The most recent are Faith-based Organizations at the United Nations (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and the Routledge Handbook of Religion and Politics (2nd. ed., London: Routledge, 2016). You can see a list of Jeff's books on Amazon. During 2015-17, Jeff is undertaking research into the United Nations entity 'Alliance of Civilizations' as part of a large research initiative funded by the USA-based John Templeton Foundation's, 'Enhancing Life Project.' Both a book and several research papers will result from this research. Jeff is convenor of the European Consortium for Political Research’s Religion and Politics Standing Group, with more than 190 active members, chair of the International Political Science Association’s Research Committee, ‘Religion and Politics’ and co-editor of the journal, Democratization, published seven times a year by Taylor and Francis.

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