The task of formulating workable approaches to the management of international migration remains a formidable challenge for the community, one that will require both time and effort over the coming years. In what terms are we to develop comprehensive migration management strategies that will help us achieve coherence of action? What organizing principles should be adopted? Is there, in conceptual terms, a point of leverage to move the debate forward?
Part of the problem lies in the difficulty of coming to a consensus about the fundamental nature of migration and its outcomes. Underlying the current and welcome inclination to acknowledge the potentially beneficial outcomes of migratory phenomena are many questions that are yet to be fully resolved.
• Should migration be considered entirely “natural”, seen as a constituent part of human behaviour, and occurring throughout human history, or profoundly “unnatural” since it is about the (painful) uprooting of individuals from their places of birth and their (equally difficult) relocation in other countries?
• Is it a process through which nations are built and strengthened or shaken up and weakened?
• Does it lead to the enrichment of countries of origin through the flow of remittances and the transfer of skills and technology or to their impoverishment through loss of talent and inadequate attention to the development of job opportunities at home?
• Would migration management be more effective if priority of attention were given to the maintenance of national sovereignty in migration or to the free play of market interests?
• Are migratory flows sustained essentially by a complex interplay of economic push and pull factors or by social communication networks?
In the midst of that uncertainty there are suggestions worth exploring that contemporary migration – as opposed to whatever its historical antecedents may have been – is uniquely related to and defined by those processes of economic and social integration collectively known as globalization. The argument is that, whether by design or not, these developments are largely responsible for the creation of an unprecedented context in which human mobility seeks to find expression on a genuinely global scale.
The World Migration Report 2008 tackles this issue directly and seeks to identify policy options that might contribute to the development of broad and coherent strategies to better match demand for migrant workers with supply in safe, humane and orderly ways.
Part A of the Report explores the nature and magnitude of the need for such strategies through the observation and analysis of a wide range of contemporary migratory patterns linked to economic purposes while Part B discusses the contours of possible policy responses