Power and proliferation: Explaining the fragmentation of global migration governance
Lena Kainz, Alexander Betts
Fragmentation is widely recognised as one of the defining characteristics of global migration governance. However, there has been little academic analysis of fragmentation, either as a dependent or independent variable in the international politics of migration. We aim to explain why it is that global migration governance has historically emerged as a patchwork of international institutions. In order to do so, we outline an original theoretical framework based on the proposition that power asymmetries between predominantly ‘sending’ and ‘receiving’ countries create a dynamic in which relatively weak states seek multilateralism and relatively strong states veto multilateralism, leading to institutional proliferation as a means to address immediate functional challenges. We apply this framework to four key historical turning points in the recent history of global migration governance: first, the impasse at the United Nations and the expansion of Regional Consultative Processes (1985–2001); second, the surge of new mandate creations and the first High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development (1999–2006); third, the establishment of the Global Forum on Migration and Development and the Global Migration Group (2006–8); and finally, the New York Declaration and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (2016–18).