In the world of nation states where borders are fixed, international migration is regulated and often restricted. National borders are guarded and there is a whole border bureaucracy developing around border management including not just state actors (border guards, consulates, migration officers) but also non-governmental organisations (supporting migrants, or supporting victims of trafficking) international organisations (as in the case of the European Union the Frontex Agency for instance, or more generally IOM or the UNHCR) and private actors (that include travel agencies, employment agencies, but also criminal networks organising unauthorised entry, producing counterfeit documents and so on). Migrant smuggling is probably an activity as old as migration restrictions; it emerges along with irregular migration. However it is growing into a large business sector and a highly complex set of networks involving not just criminals but also local lay people who are providing services that are not per se illegal, to the smuggled migrants in transit. Indeed probably what is novel in the last fifteen years with regard to human smuggling is the professionalisation and global nature of the related networks and criminal organisations. Combating migrant smuggling has become a growing concern for governments and international organisations. This chapter starts with a set of definitions clarifying what is human smuggling and distinguishing it from related phenomena like irregular migration more generally or trafficking in human beings. Section two provides an overview of the evolution of irregular migration and smuggling worldwide, even though it should be noted that being an illegal phenomenon, it is not readily quantifiable nor fully known. The third section of the chapter discusses theoretical approaches to human smuggling, particularly the business versus the social network approach. Fourth, the chapter seeks to assess the security challenges that smuggling raises and how they can be best addressed.
Migration has been intensifying and diversifying since the 1990s. According to the United Nations International Migration Report, there were 244 million international migrants in 2015 – 10 per cent more than only five years earlier, in 2010 (international migrants are here defined as people living in a given country who are either foreign born or have foreign citizenship). Of these, more than two-thirds (71 per cent) lived in high-income countries, while the developing regions hosted 29 per cent of the world’s total international migrant population. Socio-economic transformations such as those induced and intensified by globalisation processes are usually drivers of increased international migration. They intensify grievances and opportunities that lead people to seek better living and working opportunities in distant lands while also facilitating transport and communication. This Handbook focuses on the dynamics that link migration and globalisation processes from economic, social, political and cultural perspectives, looking at the challenges that emerge for labour markets, welfare systems, families and cultures, and institutions and governance arrangements as well as norms. This introduction discusses in detail, and with reference to the relevant literature, the interconnection between migration and globalisation, and presents the structure of the Handbook.