It is with great pleasure that the ESIL Interest Group on Migration and Refugee Law, in close cooperation with EJIL:Talk!, launches its first blog symposium, which will run on EJIL:Talk! this week. The interest group was established in April 2013, making it one of the newest members of the ESIL family. Underlying its foundation is the strong belief that human migration is a constant in the history of the world and a defining reality of our time. The interest group aims to provide a forum for discussion on the legal principles and processes governing the movement of people across borders as well as their reception in host communities. The interest group thereby hopes to build a shared knowledge base among ESIL members interested in migration and refugee law.
In its first blog symposium, the interest group focuses on the idea that, despite the normalcy of migration, states have come to treat it more and more as an abnormality in recent times. Many policies bear testimony to this development; one need only think of increasing restrictions on family reunification, measures of migration-related detention, and the introduction of civic integration tests. At the same time, countries crucially depend on migration, either upon the (un)skilled workforce it delivers, or upon the revenue it creates. Policies introduced therefore aim to limit and shape migration, so that only ‘the wanted’ embark on the journey. The person of the migrant is the object of such limiting, discouraging and selective policies.
Three members of the interest group took on this overarching topic in their contributions to the blog symposium, each in their own way. Juan Amaya-Castro kicks off the blog symposium. He argues that international migration law is “about selecting among potential or prospective migrants” and that it therefore provides a “license to discriminate” on the basis of economic worth. In the next post, Nikolaos Sitaropoulos counters this argument by saying that it “confuses differential with discriminatory treatment”. With reference to the case law of the Strasbourg Court, he shows that human rights provide a “protective layer” against discriminatory treatment. Concluding the blog symposium is Francesca Pizzutelli, who takes the potential for protection even further. She discusses “three types of limitations on state sovereignty with respect to migration”.