A webinar organized by SSAHE (Social Scientists Against the Hostile Environment), Monday, 1 June 2020, 5pm.



In the years around the turn of the millennium it seemed conceivable that a rights-based approach to immigration policy might be adopted by the leading liberal democracies. Initiatives promoted by the United Nations and the World Bank linked migration to development. An International Convention on the Rights of Migrants and their Families gained support among some governments and an annual Global Forum on Migration and Development brought the UN affiliated nations into discussions about the practical measures that might be taken to move in this direction.

The actual history of immigration policy, in the UK and elsewhere since this time has gone in a very different direction. Many of the pre-existing rights that assisted immigrants become established in new countries have been badly eroded, with the framework for policy having taken the track of ‘hostile environment’ in the UK and closure on asylum protection for refugees across the rest of Europe.

What lessons are to be learnt from the earlier failure to advance a rights-base for immigration policy? How will the current economic crisis impact on the rights of migrants? What might emerge for the rights agenda from the confused haze of Brexit and the Covid virus? Has public reaction to the hostile environment scandal opened up space for an intersectional mobilisation in support of the rights of migrants?

These and other questions will be considered by a panel of discussants consisting of Don Flynn, Adam Hanieh, Heaven Crawley and Eleonore Kofman and co-chaired by Nira Yuval-Davis and Rachel Humphris.    

Don Flynn has been active in the field of migrants’ rights, both in the UK, Europe and in global networks, for many years. He has written extensively on the wider political context of migrant struggles, looking particularly at social and liberal democracy and populist reaction.  The title of his presentation is : “The rights-based approach to immigration policy, and why it stumbled”. 

Dr. Adam Hanieh is a Reader in Development Studies at SOAS, University of London. His most recent book, Money, Markets, and Monarchies: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Political Economy of the Contemporary Middle East (Cambridge University Press, 2018) was awarded the 2019 British International Studies Association, International Political Economy Group Book Prize. He is co-Chair of the SOAS Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies. The title of his presentation is: “The Contradictions of Global Migration in Pandemic Times”.

Professor Heaven Crawley is Professor of International Migration at Coventry University and Director of the MIDEQ Hub. Her research is underpinned by concerns about the inequalities with which international migration is often associated: global, local and social inequalities that limit human potential and shape decisions to migrate; inequalities in opportunities to move safely, often linked to gender, ethnicity or age. She is particularly interested in better understanding the relationships between migration and inequality in the context of the Global South. The title of her presentation is: “Refugee, migrant, neither, both? The use and abuse of categories to marginalise and exclude”.

Eleonore Kofman is Professor of Gender, Migration and Citizenship, Middlesex University London. She is a member of the Executive Board of IMISCOE and the co-Director of the Migration and Displacement stream of the GCRF Gender, Justice and Security Hub. She has published widely on family and skilled labour migration and on the discriminatory and stratification impacts of contemporary migration policies. The title of her presentation is: “Equally without Rights: Migration and Settlement Policies post Brexit”.

Nira Yuval-Davis is Professor Emeritus and Honorary Director of CMRB (Centre for research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging) at the University of East London. She has written widely on intersectional nationalisms, racisms, fundamentalisms and other political projects of belonging. She is the winner of the 2018 International Sociological Association Distinguished Award for Excellence in Research and Practice. Her recent co-authored book is Bordering (Polity Press, 2019).

Rachel Humphris is Lecturer in Sociology and Politics, Queen Mary, University of London. She was previously the UK Co-ordinator of European Website on Integration. She has published extensively on migration governance, citizenship and belonging and gender. Recent book: Home-land (Policy Press, 2019).