The Global Governance of Migration: Spotlight on the International Organization for Migration

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    Global Detention Project

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On 2 February 2019, the GDP’s Senior Researcher, Mariette Grange, was invited to participate in an Expert Workshop on the International Organization for Migration (IOM) at the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford. Her presentation, “IOM and Detention Practices,” unpacked the consequences of the IOM’s use of euphemistic language and what she described as “norm-setting by stealth.” By engaging in immigration detention-related activities while remaining secretive about such work, she explained, the IOM helps states avoid accountability.

Research on immigration detention across IOM’s operations calls for scrutiny of discursive strategies, and the use of euphemisms and metaphors, some of which are coined by IOM, others by prominent supportive members states, such as the (in)famous “offshore processing centres,” noted Grange.  “The omnipresent reference to “migration management”, getting replaced by “border management”, or to projects to “regulate migration” often cover detention-related programmes. The avoidance of the term detention is not only a euphemism and metaphor but it also signals an (institutional) silence about one of the most egregious human rights issues facing non-citizens around the world.”

The workshop was part of the Refugee Studies Centre’s ongoing project, “Refugees are Migrants: Refugee Mobility, Recognition and Rights (REF-MIG).” More information about the project is available here.