F Y Miah
Dynamics of Change in International Relations
"What are the major causes and significance of international migration in the global society?"
The Oxford dictionary defines the act of migrating as meaning: "to move to settle to a new area in order to find work."1 This seems to be presupposing that the primary motivation of migrants is employment. However, as I will go on to highlight, economic social and political factors in various combinations have always affected the various constant waves of migration throughout history2. I will look at how past and modern flows compare and their effects on global society.
There are two main issues around migration: firstly how states can control and regulate migration levels. States are after all sovereign and reserve the right to be able to choose who to allow in and out of its boundaries.
The second issue that has come about in the modern era is how to deal with the minority communities that migrants form within host states. This depends on the causes that it perceives the people migrated for and the political, social and economic circumstances of the receiving state itself. If the migrant community has strong links with its previous community in the home state still and actually works to affect political and social affairs over there, perhaps even using the power and protection of the host state, they are known as diasporas. They will be discussed further on. Causes of migration can be divided initially into whether the migration was involuntary, or political due to war, natural disasters, ethnic, persecution, coercion or exploitation, or voluntary. State responses to involuntary migrants are under the ruling of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951. However, all an applicant state is obliged to do is to consider all applications for asylum, not grant them. There is though the clause which states that a host state cannot turn the asylum seeker back to their country of origin if there is evidence their life is in danger.
Voluntary migrants on the other hand have no such guarantee as their motives for migration are social or economic, not deemed to be necessary or they are illegal migrants. This definition of illegal depends on the circumstances of the host country and who they choose to allow in according to their laws or not. The mixing of political and economic though would seem to be more inevitable in future as society develops its more global aspect where international co-operation is becoming more and more necessary as the free market expands, bringing with it technological and communication advances that allow migrant communities to stay in touch with their home lands. It can be argued that this does not allow differences between the host community and the migrant community to close up3. This can lead to implications in the host lands foreign policy with the home land. For example Sikhs from the Punjab were granted leave to settle in the UK during a time when labour was needed in the. However the government could not have foreseen the future political situation where persecution of Sikhs in India would lead them to take Indian Sikhs so that they could flee from persecution and be with family in Britain.
Global migration began from regional migration with a colonial impetus to gain more land, jobs, raw materials for the rapidly industrialising Europe so many moved to the "new world" of America and Australia4. There was forced slave labour migration from the West African coast, replaced by indentured labour from other groups like the Chinese until that was banned too to be replaced by a new labour force from the Indian Sub-Continent5.
The post war economic slump in the 70's however led to host land policies which implicitly required the...