Migration and mobility have always been central defining features of human existence and experiences. Migrations of all forms – international and internal, voluntary and forced, return and remigration – have markedly changed the course of world history, the ethno-demographic composition of sending and receiving countries and their socio-cultural and political landscapes, as well as global economy and ecology.
As much as migration offers invaluable opportunities for the development and transformation of global societies, it has posed challenges to the home and host countries as well as to the global migration governance systems. However, the sheer complexity and dynamics of migration are far beyond this binary of the positive and negative dimensions of human mobility. This is especially so when we expand our conversations to internal migration, internal displacement, asylum seekers and refugees, gender imbalances and women migrants, LGBTQ+ migrants, the vulnerability of migrant children, family separations, missing migrants, migrants death, stateless migrants and the experiences of global migrant communities during the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of job loss, wage theft, return and reintegration. Likewise, the discourse on irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking can offer pertinent insights into the gaps in the global migration regime.
Similarly, many migrant groups have turned into global Diaspora communities over time constituting a substantial and vital segment of the population in many destination societies. They often act as cultural ambassadors and skilled navigators of transnational spaces of home and host societies and digital/social spheres, thus influencing the socio-economic, political and cultural spheres of the home and host countries and the global migration governance. The questions of their identity, generational differences, remittances pattern and transnationalism are critical to comprehend the ever-changing and evolving dynamics and complex nature of global migration. As the experiences of expatriates are different from those of the diaspora communities due to the very inaccessibility to citizenship and social integration, their ‘reality’ of return as against the ‘myth’ of return of the diaspora communities is another aspect of understanding the process of migration and the many perspectives it offers.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the complexities of migration and impacted human mobility unprecedentedly. The pandemic has also exacerbated human tragedy in terms of labour and human rights violations, racial discrimination, scapegoating migrant communities, and creating unilateral barriers by various nation-states towards mobility and border crossings. Yet another aspect that caught global attention now more than ever before is the deficit of accurate and reliable data essential for evidence-based policy formulation and implementation. All these have raised crucial questions for safe, orderly and sustainable migration that has been one of the important agendas of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
Over the period, there has been increasing awareness in the policy domain to manage migration better to build a better future. The 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) provides a holistic and comprehensive roadmap to human mobility and migration governance. It aims to strengthen the contribution of migrants to sustainable development. The year 2022 is significant as the first International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) will be held in May 2022 to assess, discuss and share progress on the implementation of all aspects of the GCM, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by Member States and other relevant stakeholders.
In this context, the complex and dynamic nature of international migration provides a very interesting opportunity for academicians, policy practitioners and experts, artists and activists, and civil society organisations to engage in meaningful conversations and discourses contribute toward the establishment of fair and effective policies at global, regional, national, and local levels. Academic research and multi-stakeholder deliberations are of utmost importance to comprehend and assess the impact of migration on migrants and their families, governments of the home and host states, employers, civil society organisations, trade unions and others. Such efforts will also enable and strengthen the evidence-based policymaking as well as the efforts of the United Nations agencies such as IOM, UNHCR, ILO, and the global academia to a more migrant-centric and rights-based global migration framework.
Objectives of the Conference
The four-day International Conference builds on the successes of our past events and conferences. The Conference will reflect on key contemporary perspectives, debates and policy concerns on migration, specifically in regard to the three core themes identified: pandemic and mobility, migration governance and diaspora engagement in the context of Covid-19.
The Conference aims are broadly,
i) to bring together an array of stakeholders at the national, regional, and international level, including academics, professionals, practitioners, policy experts, advocacy groups, NGOs, voluntary sector workers, and members of global migrant communities, and provide them with a creative and open knowledge platform to share their ideas, experiences, and comparative perspectives on migration.
ii) to engage in productive and constructive discussions and discourses from various disciplinary and advocacy perspectives on migration from a multiregional framework.
iii) to critically examine the multifarious governance responses to population mobility, immigration and integration policies, labour codes, institutional structures, and challenges involved at all stages of migration.
iv) to mainstream migration related discourses and generate ideas and policy perspectives in the form of research papers that will have positive developmental outcomes in home and host countries and migrants themselves.
The Conference will have a focus session on the human stories reported by journalists from all continents.
Outcomes of the Conference
The expected outcomes of the conference include the mainstreaming of migration discourses and contributing to the migration governance initiatives. The stakeholders who will directly benefit from the conference also include various ministries, departments and agencies of sending, transit and destination governments, international, regional and national organisations working in the area of international migration and governance, as well as the corporate sectors of music, films, investment, knowledge transfer, human resource training, education and so on. The papers presented and panel responses will be peer-reviewed and selected papers will be considered for publication in the Migration and Diaspora: An Interdisciplinary Journal (ISSN: 25819437 or the GRFDT Research Monograph Series (ISSN 2454-3675). These publications will be circulated widely to expand and sustain migration-related discourses and contribute to various global consultations on migration.
The Conference will have both conceptual and applied sessions to provide a holistic representation of diverse perspectives associated with the three core themes identified – pandemic and mobility, migration governance and diaspora engagements - to reflect key contemporary debates and policy concerns on migration.