Spotlight on Migration

The shocking picture of a little boy who drowned while trying to reach Europe has galvanized the debate on migration and refugees arriving in Europe from conflict-torn countries. It is a forceful reminder that the international norms and regulations are not sufficient to meet the challenge posed by the current situation.

Over the past years, staff at The Hague Institute have compiled research and convened important experts to gather and analyze information and insights into the root causes of migration. At the same time, the Institute holds Observer Status with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), while its President Dr. Abiodun Williams serves on the Advisory Council of The Hague Process on Refugees and Migration.

Below is an overview of our work on migration in relation to labor, conflict and climate change.

News and Commentary

Migration Experts Discuss “New Design” for Global Governance of Migration and Refugees – 30 November 2015
On Wednesday, 25 November 2015, The Hague Institute for Global Justice and The Hague Process on Refugees and Migration organized a Scoping Session on “Moving Global Action on Migration and Refugees Forward.” It gathered relevant stakeholders from The Hague, Brussels, Geneva, Berlin, Paris, and New York representing different professional backgrounds from policymakers and practitioners to researchers and business leaders, as well as across different fields of expertise, including security, justice, health, labor and human rights.

Moving Global Action on Migration and Refugees Forward: A Need for Innovative Partnerships – 20 November 2015
Images of Syrian children sleeping in the streets of Brussels and Belgrade illustrate the complete chaos and inhumane conditions at refugee and reception centers throughout the capital cities of Europe. One would indeed believe that Europe is facing an unmanageable number of migrants and refugees. Yet, compared to the total 59.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide (in 2014), with developing countries hosting 12.4 million refugees (out of 19.5 million in total), it begs the question of whether Europe is, indeed, facing a “refugee crisis”. Rather, it appears that Europe faces a migration and refugees “management crisis”.

Humanity Demands a Generous Response to the Refugee Crisis, but also Better Conflict Prevention and Resolution Efforts – 4 September 2015
Over the weekend, the Mediterranean Sea has proven once more it is today’s most dangerous border between Europe and Africa. This commentary focuses on migrant smuggling. It argues that the EU needs to address the root causes of migrant smuggling in order to prioritize human rights within its migration policies and to take preventive action.

Migrant Smuggling: How Should the EU and its Members States Respond? – 21 April 2015
Over the course of the last years, the Mediterranean Sea has proven it is today’s most dangerous border between Europe and Africa. This commentary focuses on migrant smuggling. It argues that the EU needs to address the root causes of migrant smuggling in order to prioritize human rights within its migration policies and to take preventive action.

Deadly Crossings: A Case for Humane Border Management – 18 February 2015

Should people pay with their lives to cross a border? In the past week various news agencies have reported the death of 11 immigrants who drowned at the Spanish coastline after border police fired rubber bullets in an attempt to deter 200 migrants who tried to cross the frontier between Morocco and Spain.

The Greek Presidency of the Council of the EU: Performance in the Field of Global Governance – 23 September 2014

On 18 September, Dr. Joris Larik, senior researcher in the Global Governance Program, reviewed the Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union regarding its performance in the area of global governance. He did so as a respondent to the Ambassador of Greece to the Netherlands, H.E. Ambassador Teresa Angelatou, at the “Presidency Lecture Series” organized by the T.M.C. Asser Instituut and the Centre for the Law of the EU External Relations (CLEER) in cooperation with the Embassy of the Hellenic Republic in The Hague.

Migration, Development and Global Justice – 4 December 2013

A forthright rejection of nationalism – and the dangers it augurs – marked Peter Sutherland’s lecture as part of The Hague Institute’s Distinguished Speaker Series. Sutherland, the UN’s Special Representative for Migration and Development, delivered remarks on the topic of ‘migration, development and global justice’, noting progress towards international recognition of migrant rights, as well as policy prescriptions to improve state practice. Listen to the lecture and read Mr. Sutherland’s commentary in Intersections [PDF]

Humanitarian and International Intervention – 15 November 2013

The former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Sir John Holmes, provided the inaugural lecture in The Hague Institute’s Distinguished Speaker Series. Sir John’s lecture, entitled ‘Humanitarians and International Intervention’ grappled with the challenges that the international community faces when confronting civilian protection emergencies.

The Effectiveness of Dutch Foreign Policy – 23 September 2013

Launching a three-part series entitled “An Inside View: The Effectiveness of Dutch Foreign Policy”, The Hague Institute for Global Justice convened six former Political Directors, who served various governments at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to reflect on the contemporary challenges facing Dutch engagement in Europe and the wider world.

The Increasing Anxiety toward (Irregular) Immigrants in Developed Economies – 23 May 2013

In May 2013, our researcher drew attention to the growing intolerance toward migrants in general and undocumented migrants in particular.

Protection from “International Armed Conflict” – 13 February 2013
What is an ‘internal armed conflict’ in EU law? This was a question which the BelgianConseil d’État referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), asking in essence whether the concept of ‘internal armed conflict’ is to be understood as defined in international humanitarian law (IHL) or as a term with an independent meaning in the Union legal order.


Climate Change and Migration – 4 March 2015

Two recent working papers build on the assertion that climate change, and sometimes also its mitigation and adaptation strategies, have the potential to foment conflict. Working Paper No. 6, authored by Dr. Enza Roberta Petrillo, a former visiting researcher at the Institute, tackles the European Union’s (EU) policy response to environmental migration from conflict-affected countries. Working Paper No. 7, authored by Conflict Prevention Program Researcher Ting Zhang, examines how mitigation and adaptation can be made more conflict-sensitive, by drawing upon examples from the Asia-Pacific region.

Irregular Migration and Global Justice

Policy Brief 10 | May 2014

Most migration stakeholders clearly recognize that irregularity is undesirable and a continuous source of concern for many governments and the international community. The issue, which has barely been acknowledged, is that continuous demand for cheap labor in destination states is a catalyst for irregular migration, both stimulating and sustaining the phenomenon. It is within this paradoxical context of undesirability and indispensability that policymakers and irregular migrants find themselves.

Climate Security and Justice for Small Island Developing States

Policy Brief 9 | March 2014

This policy brief reviews both the challenges that SIDS face because of climate change in terms of adaptation and development, internal displacement and migration, sovereignty a nd exclusive economic zones, as well as the means they use to advance their cause, such as legal claims to compensation and multilateral diplomacy.

Convening Expertise

The Nexus between Statelessness and Human Trafficking – 13 February 2015

On 13 February 2015, the Institute welcomed authors Laura van Waas and Conny Rijken to discuss the methodology and findings of their two-year research project aimed at understanding the link between statelessness and increased vulnerability to human trafficking amongst the hill tribes in Northern Thailand.

Roundtable on International Migration and Global Justice – 3 December 2013

The Hague Institute convened a group of director-level officials from government, international organizations and civil society to discuss the intersection between migration and global justice in an informal and frank setting.

Distinguished Speaker Series – Peter D. Sutherland – 2 December 2013

On 2 December 2013, the Institute welcomed the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Migration and Development, Peter Sutherland. Mr. Sutherland is one of the world’s leading thinkers on international migration policy, publishing regularly on the economic potential of migration, migrants’ rights and ways to overcome obstacles to the realization of migration’s development.

Further Reading

Active: Distinguished Speaker Series

The Distinguished Speaker Series (DSS) showcases eminent practitioners in international affairs and is the centerpiece of the Institute’s high-level engagement with practitioners and academics in the city…


Past Initiative: The Hague Approach

Justice can be a scarce commodity in countries affected by conflicts. The Hague Institute draws lessons from experiences of post-conflict rebuilding activities in Afghanistan…


Rule of Law

The Rule of Law Program fosters accountability and trust in societies in transition by supporting effective formal and informal justice institutions. The overarching goal…