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Irregular Migration in Asia

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Title: Irregular Migration in Asia


1
Irregular Migration in Asia
  • 1. Background to Project
  • In 2004 the Centre of Asian Studies commenced a
    new phase of research on New Regionalism in Asia.
    An application for funding for the first
    workshop on the subject of Governance and
    Regionalism in Asia was successfully made to the
    Japan Foundation.
  • The purpose of this project is to further the
    current state of debate within the region on the
    problems and prospects of regionalism. It builds
    on five years of China-ASEAN Roundtables held by
    the Centre of Asian Studies (1998-2002) and four
    years of China-India Roundtables (2001-2003 and
    2005). Towards the end of these two cycles, the
    need to integrate the two dialogue networks into
    a single region-wide project and to deepen the
    intellectual framework of the discussion became
    clear.
  • For this phase of the project the Centre of Asian
    Studies will be partnering with the Asian Center,
    University of the Philippines, Manila with the
    intent of holding the project workshop in the
    Philippines in December 2006 http//www.edu.ph/a
    c.
  • 2. Explanation of the Project
  • As the East Asian region has integrated for the
    greater good of its peoples, markets and states
    new challenges have emerged. The increased
    intra-regional movement of people for work or
    pleasure is one manifestation of closer ties
    between the countries of Asia. But just as the
    1997 Asian financial crisis was a negative
    manifestation of closer economic ties between
    regional states, so too the irregular movement of
    peoples across national borders is a negative
    reflection of closer links between regional
    peoples and societies.

2
  • Irregular migration (including people smuggling
    and human trafficking) are all on the rise in
    Asia, reflecting global trends and disparities.
    As globalisation has taken hold, an increasing
    number of people have begun to move across
    national borders to live, to work, or for
    pleasure. Within regions this process is
    intensified as shorter distances, lower costs and
    cultural affinities act as positive pressures on
    directing transnational population flows. In
    most cases these transnational flows are
    voluntary. However, for a significant number of
    people this is not the case. Individuals may be
    coerced to move to work as sex workers, as bonded
    labour or, in the worst cases, as slaves. Data
    from 2004 showed that, of the estimated 600,000
    to 800,000 men, women and children trafficked
    across international borders each year,
    approximately 80 percent are women and girls and
    up to 50 percent are minors. The data also
    illustrate that the majority of transnational
    victims are trafficked into commercial sexual
    exploitation (US Department of State 2005),
    although an increasing number of victims are also
    being exploited for their labour as well.
  • Irregular migration is one of the main criminal
    offences of the 21st century. In its most benign
    manifestation it involves the subversion of legal
    and regulatory regimes in multiple countries or
    jurisdictions. While the act of human
    trafficking, along with that of narcotics and
    small arms, earns criminal organisations and
    their customers billions of dollars in direct and
    indirect revenues. In the Asia-Pacific there are
    significant flows of illegal migrants for labour
    and/or sexual exploitation, both intra-regionally
    as well as to other parts of the world. These
    flows are driven by both supply and demand
    factors within a general environment of regional
    and global economic disparities for many of the
    source and transit countries.
  • But even as many countries in the region try to
    come to grips with this problem, they are
    hampered by a lack of objective data. The
    absence of concrete data on human trafficking
    victims, for example, makes a clear understanding
    of the full scope of the problem in the Asian
    region difficult. This problem is complicated by
    different states adopting different legislative
    understandings of international and regional
    agreements, which has a secondary effect on the
    compilation of data sets. A key objective of the
    project is therefore to solicit case study-based
    research on the phenomenon of illegal migration
    in Asia so as to further our understanding of the
    assumptions and beliefs held by regional
    societies, including policy and economic elites
    on this issue. The CAS and the Asian Center
    believe that a greater understanding of the
    challenge of irregular migration holds the
    potential to make a major contribution to the
    current policy and research debates.

3
  • 3. Tentative Agenda
  • The project has been conceived as an innovative
    research exercise questioning emerging forms and
    modalities of illegal migration in Asia, with a
    focus on the patterns and substance of illegal
    migration, people smuggling and human
    trafficking. As noted above, the lack of concrete
    data on these issues has led to an imperfect
    understanding of the problem within the region.
    By soliciting papers with a strong grounding in
    case-studies across two or more countries it is
    anticipated that the results will be well placed
    to conceptually inform both the scholarly and
    policy debates on this issue. To best achieve
    this, the project will adopt an interdisciplinary
    approach and will be composed of papers primarily
    drawn from an international call for papers. The
    Call for Papers hopes to attract contributions
    from different Social Science disciplines
    including Politics, International Relations,
    Political Economy, Law, Cultural Studies, as well
    as Sociology and Media and Journalism Studies.
  • Seven broad panel themes inform the initial
    structure of the workshop. Under this broad
    thematic framework, paper topics will address
    specific case studies (see below the list of
    probable presentations and paper topics). Insofar
    as possible, the project will select papers that
    take an interest in cross-regional dynamics.
  • Panel 1 Theoretical and Historical Perspectives
    on Irregular Human Flows in Asia
  • This introductory panel will attempt to
    conceptualise patterns of irregular migration
    (including illegal migration, people-smuggling
    and human trafficking) in Asia and analyse the
    implications in terms of developing regional
    integration.
  • Panel 2 Comparative Domestic Approaches to
    Illegal Migration
  • Papers should analyse how differences in domestic
    governance models challenge cooperation and
    consensus building at the regional level. One
    area where papers will be particular sought is in
    comparative policy responses to the problem
    especially in terms of public awareness
    programmes, victim support initiatives and
    juridical frameworks.
  • Panel 3 Northeast Asian Experiences
  • This will be the first of three panels exploring
    subregional modalities of this issue. Papers
    should examine the experiences of Northeast Asian
    countries as source, transit or destination
    countries. They will also address the underlying
    issues of culture and social formation in state
    responses to this problem. As such, the case
    studies should focus on the transnational chain
    of irregular human movements rather than just on
    the domestic level analysis (the subject of Panel
    2).

4
  • Panel 4 Southeast Asian Challenges
  • This will be the second of three panels exploring
    subregional modalities of this issue. Papers
    should examine the experiences of Southeast Asian
    countries as source, transit or destination
    countries. They will also address the underlying
    issues of culture and social formation in state
    responses to this problem. As such, the case
    studies need to focus on the transnational chain
    of irregular human movements rather than just on
    the domestic level analysis (the subject of Panel
    2).
  • Panel 5 South Asian Approaches
  • This will be the third of the three panels
    exploring subregional modalities of this issue.
    Papers should examine the experiences of South
    Asian countries as source, transit or destination
    countries. They will also address the underlying
    issues of culture and social formation in state
    responses to this problem. As such, the case
    studies should focus on the transnational chain
    of irregular human movements rather than just on
    the domestic level analysis (the subject of Panel
    2).
  • Depending on the papers submitted this panel may
    be expanded to also include papers with a
    Southwest or Central Asian focus. The former
    area is a major destination locale for Southeast
    Asian emigration, particularly those from Muslim
    communities. The latter is becoming an
    increasingly important area as both a source of
    illegal inflows to East and South Asia and a
    transit point from some South and East Asian
    countries to Europe.
  • Panel 6 Extra-regional Flows
  • Papers on this topic should explore the
    experiences of extra-regional states in Europe,
    North America or Australia/New Zealand as
    destination or transit sites for illegal Asian
    immigrants.
  • Panel 7 Impact of Regional Institutions and
    International Organisations
  • This panel should explore the impact of regional
    (ASEAN, APEC, ASEM) and international
    organisations (IOM and other members of the UN
    family of agencies) not only to understand the
    efficacy of these institutions in addressing this
    problem but to also explore the dynamics between
    state-regional-global mechanisms. Potential
    comparisons with the work of other regional
    institutions (EU, NAFTA or MERCOSUR) may also be
    reviewed depending on the mix of papers received.
    The role and behaviour of civil society
    organisations engaged in transnational advocacy
    on any aspect of irregular migration is also
    another potential topic to be considered for this
    panel.

5
  • To submit a paper proposal or make enquiries,
    please contact the
  • Asian Regionalism Project
  • Centre of Asian Studies
  • The University of Hong Kong
  • Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong SAR
  • E-mail Ms Louise Mak lypmak_at_hku.hk Web Site
    www.hku.hk/cas/
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