International organisations in the field : governing mixed migration in and through practice
Title: International organisations in the field : governing mixed migration in and through practice
Author: KORTENDIEK, Nele
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2018/33; Global Governance Programme-310; [European, Transnational and Global Governance]
How can we study migration-related international organisations (IOs) and their contribution to creating global standards for governing mixed migration? While most scholarship on global migration governance conceives of international organisations as collective actors with clearly delineated boundaries and official mandates, this paper suggests reconceptualising them as open systems and turning to their inter-organisational dynamics in the field in order to understand how they impact on governing global migration beyond formal regulatory competences. The paper challenges the dominant theoretical approach to studying IOs, which centres on the concepts of authority and legitimacy, and argues that a theoretical framework that focuses on knowledge, practice and professions allows us to open the black box of IOs and to capture how IO staff on the ground, at the frontline of migration movements, govern mixed migration in and through practice. By taking frontline workers as analytical entry point, we can move from the level of formal global policy-making and implementation to the level of inter-organisational communities of practice in the field – and thus analyse informal forms of governing that rely on knowledge rather than authority. The paper concludes by way of an empirical illustration from the Aegean Sea in order to show how the theoretical shift and its methodological implications can come to empirical fruition. It exemplarily demonstrates how border and coast guards, immigration officials, humanitarian workers, asylum lawyers, doctors, social workers, psychologists and lifesavers, affiliated with IOM, UNHCR, EASO, Frontex, humanitarian NGOs and volunteer groups coordinate and compete over how to address the issue of cross-border mixed migration movements along the Eastern Mediterranean route.
Subject: International organisations; Global migration governance; Frontline workers; Knowledge; Practice
Type of Access: openAccess