UNU Panel Series on Academic Thinking on Migration

  • 2017•03•27     New York

    The Rise of Nationalist Politics and Policy Implications for Migration

    Thursday, 20 April 2017
    1.15 p.m. – 2.30 p.m.
    United Nations Headquarters
    Conference Room 7, Conference Building

    RSVP* here by Friday, 16 April

    UNU Panel Series on Academic Thinking on Migration

    This event is part of the United Nations University (UNU) ‘Panel Series on Academic Thinking on Migration’, convened by the UNU Migration Network with the support of the UNU Office in New York (UNU-ONY). The panel series is held against the backdrop of thematic consultations feeding into negotiations towards a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. See a full list of the dates and academic panels at the end of this email. 

    The 2016 New York Declaration strongly condemns racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance against refugees and migrants, reaffirming obligations under international law (paragraphs 13-14). States are seeking adequate responses to the rise of xenophobia, practices and rates of violence against migrants witnessed in recent years. Policy makers are struggling to counter these dynamics at the sub-national, national and global levels.

    Social scientists caution that social tensions due to poverty, alienation and anger can fuel extremist movements. Such movements often label outside actors as ‘threats’ in order to make political gains. Historical and current examples from around the world demonstrate how such movements exploit divisiveness in a society – in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, for example – to fuel nationalist sentiments while tearing at the social fabric of diverse communities. Individual migrants are dehumanized and depicted as menaces to the living conditions of locals or nationals, while their positive contributions to their new communities are ignored.
    From different academic perspectives, this seminar will consider the dynamics in which nationalism and xenophobia arise, and how authorities can address these phenomena. Scholars on the panel will consider, in the context of difficult political climates, how groups seeking greater inclusivity might redress divisive politics.

    This panel will address current research exploring questions pertinent to these challenges, including: What are the main reasons behind a recent increase in anti-migrant violence in some contexts – and why do some countries experience a rise in anti-migrant sentiment while others, especially countries that observe similar migration patterns, do not? How do xenophobic attitudes affect States’ responses to migration phenomena – such as in the case of the current ‘migration crisis’ in Europe? How have xenophobic and nationalist groups used anti-migration rhetoric over time, and what can we learn from historical examples? How might policies at the sub-national, national, regional and global levels address xenophobia?



    • Dr Melissa Siegel, Professor and Head of Migration Studies at United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT)
    • Dr James Cockayne, Head of the United Nations University (UNU) Office in New York

    About the Panel Series on Academic Thinking on Migration

    The panel ‘The Rise of Nationalist Politics and Policy Implications for Migration’ is part of the United Nations University (UNU) ‘Panel Series on Academic Thinking on Migration’, jointly convened by UNU’s Office in New York and the UNU Migration Network with the generous support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The UNU Migration Network is a research platform across Institutes of the UNU that shares expertise on migration from different disciplinary perspectives.

    The series consists of four academic panels:

    • The Rise of Nationalist Politics and Policy Implications for Migration – Thursday, 20 April 1:15- 3:00 p.m. in Conference Room 7
    • Climate Change, Migration & Displacement: New perspectives on regional approaches to climate-induced migration, displacement and relocation – Tuesday, 16 May from 1:15 – 3:00 p.m. in Conference Room 7
    • Cities of Welcome: Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees in Urban Areas – Thursday, 8 June
    • Alternative Ways of Thinking about Migration for Development, Lessons from emerging research: South-South focus, financial decision-making, and the price of rights, refugees and development – Wednesday, 12 July

    * Non-UN badge holders must register before 24 February to access the UN Conference Centre.