Stefanie Grant

Academic Visitor, July 2003 to September 2004

Stefanie Grant's research interests focus on forced and involuntary migration, and on the human rights consequences of living outside a country of nationality, as an illegal alien.

The global migrant population is now some 175 million, a figure which has doubled since 1970. An increasing number are irregular migrants, who have been impelled to leave their countries by the combination of extreme poverty at home and economic opportunity abroad, but who then find they cannot enter another country, except through smuggling and trafficking networks, or other illegal means.

The vulnerability of those forced to leave their countries by political persecution has long been recognised. Although the international refugee regime is imperfect and imperfectly applied by governments, it offers a protection framework within which rights can be claimed.

But no equivalent protection regime exists for those compelled to leave their home countries by extreme poverty, conflict and systemic deprivation of social and economic rights. Some few may be recognized as refugees, but most will not. While in some areas, and in theory, their rights are protected [1|], in practice, many live illegally, and in a legal limbo, in circumstances which typically include abusive employment, and the risk that seeking rights protection - by police, health or other social services - will lead to detection, arrest and deportation.

Policy discussion of this enormously complex topic is now beginning, in response to a number of very diverse factors - the sheer magnitude of the problem; the evident contradictions of a globalisation which allows free flows of capital and goods, but not free movement of labour; the need to 'manage' global migration flows; the impact of changed demography on migration policies in European countries, and concern at the methods of border control used by some states (often not dissimilar to those used to police the Berlin Wall). There is also a recognition that concepts of citizenship deriving exclusively from state sovereignty should be reviewed in the context of a contemporary world in which the power of the sovereign state is changing.

Stefanie Grant's research will therefore look at concepts of rights protection outside the refugee regime, both from a historical perspective [including through the League of Nations], and outside Europe [especially Latin America].

[1] The international human rights treaties provide a degree of protection to illegal immigrants, as well as to legal residents, and citizens.