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Nicola Piper

Most drivers of migration are related to lacking opportunities for employment or income generation. As international migrants and non-citizens, workers are commonly disadvantaged, subjected to discriminatory practices and exploitative abuse, primarily due to their specific labour market positioning and migration status. This chapter probes into the various ways in which migrant workers’ precarious status impacts on their political agency in the search for possible ways to overcome their marginalisation: as noncitizens or ‘denizens’; as undocumented migrants and unauthorised workers; or as temporary contract workers. By drawing on global governance studies, human rights studies and political sociology, it is argued that for most migrant workers today, the translation of their experience and hardship into effective rights claims occurs via mobilisation into collective organisations and transnational advocacy networks which direct their advocacy at various levels of policymaking: local, national, regional, global and both state and non-state actors.

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Sandra Lavenex and Nicola Piper

Building on the distinction in the literature between more formal ‘regionalism’ as political institution-building and ‘regionalisation’ as transnational societal process, this chapter’s main argument is that the development of regional migration governance is the product of top-down and bottom-up dynamics. It is the interaction between the two that determines the form and the scope that migration governance takes in different regions. In addressing the dynamic and procedural character of regional migration governance beyond the static form of formal institutions, we present a multi-actor model of governance highlighting the multiplicity of organisations involved and thus different ways of interpreting what governance actually consists of and a more accurate characterisation of the variety of governance forms we find in different regions. Moreover, by highlighting its multidimensional nature, we extend the debate on governance by developing a perspective beyond formal structures to the actual practice, as well as contestation, of the ‘governance project’.

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Jenna Hennebry and Nicola Piper

The challenge of addressing the persistent, if not expanding, migrant precarity in relation to intensified global inequalities within and between countries has re-emerged on the agenda of global processes and institutions, as evident from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030 and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The situation of a low-wage and legally insecure migrant workforce is amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic reinforcing the intersecting nature of policy areas that require global action in a combined manner. Abusive and exploitative labour conditions along global labour supply and care chains have been subject to advocacy efforts made by trade unions and civil society actors in the form of new methods of labour activism targeting global processes and global institutions. Taking the perspective of civil society actors as the starting point of our discussion of the emerging global governance of migration, we argue that there has been a marked shift in the composition of ‘civil society’ present at such processes, with the effect of narrowing down the space left for human and labour rights activists. We will show that this is part and parcel of the increasing and accelerated privatisation and marketisation of migration governance, amounting to what we call ‘flexible governance’. Our analysis is based on data collected through a multi-methods approach including participant observation in global events, key informant interviews with state and non-state actors involved in the drafting of the compacts, and content analysis of relevant documents. We will use the example of the negotiations around the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration to illustrate our points.