Regionalism as a Venue for Migration Governance

Drawing primarily on the case of regional integration units in Africa (COMESA, EAC, ECOWAS, and SADC), Asia (ASEAN) and Latin America (MERCOSUR), this project examines through which legal instruments and at which level (regional, bilateral, national) the participating countries address migration issues and how far these measures are framed as part of trade in services.

In the course of the 21st century, globalisation and increased interdependence between the fields of trade, migration and investment has more than ever challenged the capacity of states to autonomously manage such flows, thus giving rise to regionalism and multilateral solutions.


Although international migration flows are becoming increasingly intercontinental, “most international migrants move within major regions”. In particular, migration seems to be facilitated by regional processes. These regional approaches are usually based on the conclusion of free trade instruments between countries in a specific region with a view to improving the economic situation. Such instruments may range from extensive free movement regimes applicable to all categories of persons, as in the EU, to more limited provisions focusing on the movement of qualified individuals. However, so far, little attention has been paid to the regional level of regulation.


The main research question of this cluster is how far and whether regional integration projects represent venues for migration governance. This project explores to what extent selected regional units have effectively adopted migration policy as part of their internal and external relations. To this end it proposes a comparative research design exploring the inclusion of migration norms of three selected countries (Argentina, Thailand and Nigeria), representing three emerging regional units: Latin America (MERCOSUR), Asia (ASEAN) and Africa (ECOWAS).