This blog concerns itself predominantly with the global governance of migration (or lack thereof), but if such a regime is to evolve, it needs to rest on some solid foundation. Besides the transnational level, the regional level seems to be particular relevant for migrants rights activism. But apart from the EU and the debate about its “democratic deficit” there is actually fairly little research on civil society participation in regional organisations. Of course, civil society does not necessarily need a state-led framework to voice its agenda – it can create political spaces through “alternative regionalism from below”. These are some of the themes I discuss in the following articles, with particular emphasis on ASEAN:
The current hot topic in ASEAN is the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by the end of this year. But one should by no means expect a free movement of labour comparable to the EU: The provisions so far apply only for so-called “highly skilled labor” and even in this sector they apply only to very limited groups, as I discuss here:
Rother, Stefan (2014): Labour Mobility and the ASEAN Economic Community, Insight Asia-Paciﬁc 4/2014.
The above mentioned concept of “alternative regionalism from below” is discussed in this article I wrote together with Nicola Piper for our upcoming Special Issue on “Migration and Democracy: Citizenship and human rights from a multi-level perspective”
Rother, Stefan/Piper, Nicola (2015): Alternative Regionalism from Below: Democratizing ASEAN’s Migration Governance, International Migration, 51(3).
Most literature on migration governance has addressed the global level, and it has done so primarily from a state-centric and top-down perspective, with little regard to the role of civil society organizations in shaping its direction. Moreover, in an institutional sense, except for the EU, the regional level has only received scant attention, which is surprising given the significance of intra-regional migration flows elsewhere. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a case in point. Although there are few direct channels of engagement for civil society, the vibrant migrant rights community in Asia has been capitalizing on, and creating, opportunities at multiple levels including the regional. Our argument is that this creative use of channels of engagement in combined form at multiple levels can have democratizing potential.
Finally, here is the link to an (open access) paper I wrote on civil society engagement with ASEAN, based on my participation in the 2014 ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC) and ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF – see top picture) in Yangon, Myanmar:
ASEAN Civil Society under the Myanmar Chairmanship
I plan to participate in this years’ ACSC/APF in April in Kuala Lumpur as well, so expect some blogging from coming up..