Transforming migration conflicts

November 7, 2016
By Dr Josefina Echavarria Alvarez

The movement of people constantly reshapes the world. Whether this movement is caused forcefully or voluntarily, contemporary societies face the great challenge of how to deal with the tensions created by movements that defy clear-cut nation-states borders.  

The current international framework fails to recognise the contingency of national identities and falls short when confronted with the duty of offering hospitable conditions to all humans, independently of their characteristics in terms of national, gender, ethnic and religious affiliations. 

The movement of persons, with their ideas, beliefs, customs and worldviews also challenges host societies in so far they do not necessarily attend to traditional loyalties. As such, international migrants tend to bring in new and fresh air to conventional politics, contributing greatly to enliven concepts of citizenship and thus to redefine democracies. 

Yet, migrants also create a deep fear of otherness in host states and societies that in some cases turn into direct, structural and cultural violence against migrants. 

Migrants themselves sometimes meet alienation and indifference with violence. Public policies, civil society engagement and activism, as well as scholarly publications both, contribute to exclusionary and inclusionary practices of migration. 

There is no easy portrayal of this conflict. In the face of such relevant and multidimensional phenomenon, how can we rethink international migration movements in a way that we take advantage of the positive potentialities and contribute to more peaceful relationships around the globe.

The article is part of the SFG publication “Big Questions of Our time: The World Speaks”. To access the full publication please click here.

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