Handbook of the International Political Economy of Migration
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Handbook of the International Political Economy of Migration

  • Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series

Edited by Leila Simona Talani and Simon McMahon

This Handbook discusses theoretical approaches to migration studies in general, as well as confronting various issues in international migration from a distinctive international political economy perspective. It examines migration as part of a global political economy whilst addressing the theoretical debate relating to the capacity of the state to control international migration and the so called ‘policy gap’ or ‘gap hypothesis’ between migration policies and their outcomes.
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Chapter 5: Assessing the international regime against human trafficking

Alex Balch

Extract

Since the turn of the century there has been a rapid development of what is often referred to as an international regime against human trafficking. Its extraordinary success is reflected by the fact that anti-trafficking norms have now become an integral part of broader attempts to develop partnerships around migration governance (Kunz et al. 2011). We thus see regional initiatives to reform international labour migration predicated partly on the basis of their potential to reduce human trafficking (EC 2011; ILO 2013). The existence of this international regime has also been seen as an opportunity to push for a further strengthening of an international institutional framework around migration based on human rights (OHCHR 2013). As I shall explain, as a cause, the fight against human trafficking has the capacity to provide a rallying call to bring together all kinds of disparate political forces. However, the nature of the international regime that has developed since Palermo (2000) also divides opinion. Some see a fundamental tension between the fight to eradicate human trafficking and core human rights goals (Hathaway 2008), while others see ‘unprecedented opportunities’ to create an international regime that finally moves beyond ‘platitudes’ and the ‘illusion of legal protection’ (Gallagher 2009: 794). This tension relates to the potential for anti-trafficking efforts to enhance human rights protections for migrants alongside the placement of the topic in the category of new security threats, which includes international terrorism and drug trafficking, for example.

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