In the past, the government treated undocumented migrants in the Netherlands with considerable leniency. Since the early 90s however, preventing irregular migration has been a priority. Consistent with the country’s general approach, the governance of undocumented migrants can be characterised as multi-level, with national and local governments playing divergent roles, and civil society and migrant-led organisations playing an important role in the arm’s length provision of services. This multi-level approach has been more apparent in the Dutch response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While upholding exclusionary policies, the government has instituted ad hoc protection measures and introduced inclusive practices carried out for the most part by organisations, including those initiated by migrants. This illustrates that some welfare provision does not necessarily contradict a restrictive migration policy. However, the temporariness and unpredictability of inclusive practices underscore the tension between the visible ‘sunshine’ and the hidden ‘shadow’ politics in the multi-level governance of undocumented migrants in the Netherlands. This calls attention to the vital importance of policy coherence and continuity as well as a more adaptive and reflexive governance strategy.
For decades, migration governance was relegated to the backwaters of the UN system with informal committees and working groups rarely grabbing the public’s attention. However, the 2015 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, followed by the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) moved migration governance to center stage.be what the Global Compacts are and how they fit with wider migration governance. This is based on my research and fieldwork in my recent book, UN Flobal Compacts: Governing Migration and Refugees. While migration governance remains largely fractured, I show how states negotiated the Global Compacts as non-binding frameworks that bundle and reaffirm rights, while also establishing a path for future global migration governance.
This article describes the ascension of cities as key actors in global cooperation, and their related impact in shaping the global governance of migration. Over the last decade, cities have begun to mobilize strategically through greater trans-networking efforts in order to secure their representation in global decision-making circles; to inform policies such that these better reflect local realities; and to advocate for direct access to resources to implement their goals. One important outcome of these efforts is mayors’ successful advocacy in 2018 for a clause on ‘non-discriminatory access’ to public health services within the UN Global Compact for Migration (GCM). Mayors’ insistence on non-discriminatory treatment of all city residents was right and prescient in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and is further evidence of the critical need to elevate local leadership within national and global policy-making and governance.