Challenging the mantra of irregular migration in international development policies through legal mobilization

Associate professor
International Institute of Social Studies
Start date

Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020, 13:00

End date

Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020, 14:00

Room 1.31
International Institute of Social Studies
Spoken Language
Dr Jeff Handmaker

In this Migration Series Seminar, Dr Jeff Handmaker will critically discuss the dominant policy underpinning international mobility based on the goal of combatting irregular migration. He will also consider the potential of legal mobilization to redress states' retrogressive measures.

The mantra of combatting irregular migration remains a cornerstone of Dutch development policies. This translates to over half a billion Euros and thus represents around 13% of the Netherlands’ annual development aid budget. This policy matches that of the European Union (EU), which has openly criticized opportunistic use of the migration issue for political opportunism, while simultaneously justifying the expenditure of billions of Euros aimed at deterring irregular migrants.

 In this seminar, Handmaker will first critique the dominant policy regime underpinning regional and national policies regarding international mobility based on the goal of combatting irregular migration. This includes specific, extra-territorial deterrent or containment measures of border control, usually based on bilateral agreements, which have the impact of securitizing development and humanitarian policies, resulting in multiple violations of international human rights law. Apart from concerns over these impacts, extra-territorial measures prevent us from understanding, let alone addressing the underlying reasons why people are moving transnationally.

He will also explain the potential of legal mobilization to redress the retrogressive measures of states that flow from the lawfare mantra of irregular migration. This will allow me to conclude that other approaches are needed to formulate and implement migration policies, which municipalities are especially well-equipped to manage.

About the speaker

Jeff Handmaker is a socio-legal scholar. He has published 6 books and dozens of peer-reviewed academic articles and book chapters as well as newspaper articles, blogposts and other outputs. They include: Mobilising International Law for ‘Global Justice’ (with Arts, CUP, 2019); Migration, Gender and Social Justice (with Truong, Gasper and Bergh, Springer, 2014); Advancing Refugee Protection in South Africa (with Klaaren and De la Hunt, Berghahn, 2008) and ‘Migration, refugees & racism in South Africa’ (with Parsley, Refuge, 2001).

He teaches law, human rights, development and social justice and conducts research on legal mobilization as a tenured faculty member at Erasmus University’s International Institute of Social Studies. He has a long-time association with Southern Africa, since working as a practitioner there in the early 1990s; he is a senior research fellow in the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg as well as an Editor (formerly Editor-in-Chief) of the South African Journal on Human Rights.

His current research focusses on the strategic potential of mobilizing law in relation to a variety of contexts, themes and approaches.

He studied at the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (LLB 1992) and School of Oriental and African Studies in London (LLM 1994) before becoming a qualified lawyer (1995) and after several years in legal practice, mainly in South Africa, he obtained a PhD at Utrecht University (2009). In 2017 he was a visiting research fellow in the Department of Sociology at Princeton University.

He holds several ancillary positions, including as a project board member of the Public Interest Litigation Project (Amsterdam) and as a member of International Lawyers (Geneva).

More information

This event is part of the ISS Migration Seminar Series.

This seminar series is a programme of informal seminar sessions which discuss cutting-edge research on a range of issues within the broad theme of migration.

Please contact Mahardhika Sjamsoeoed Sadjad for more information.