Global Migration Governance from below in Times of COVID-19 and “Zoomification”: Civil Society in „Invited“ and „Invented“ Spaces


The global pandemic has resulted in ad hoc unilateral policies on migration, mobility and border management while at the same time emphasizing the need for global cooperation. For global governance in this field to be effective, it needs to include stakeholders beyond states and international institutions. The Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular Migration (GCM) highlights the role of those groups directly affected by global policies, i.e. migrants and their organisations. The goal of this paper is to analyse the role of civil society in global migration governance in times of COVID-19. It employs a comparative approach between “invented” and “invited” spaces. “Invited spaces” in this context refer to spaces created by international organisations such as the United Nations Network on Migration’s “Stakeholder Listening Sessions” on COVID-19 and the resulting statements. “Invented Spaces” refer to self-organized spaces by civil society actors. The paper will compare these spaces regarding their openness, the central issues and calls for specific policy measures, the stakeholders involved and the strategies they employ. I argue that the pandemic has strengthened the “input” dimension for migrant civil society in global governance. This relates to the structure/format as well as to the content of the participation. “Zoomification” has opened up access to “invited” spaces while pushing forward the creation and scope of “invented” spaces”. There are indicators that the pandemic has also influenced parts of the output dimension, although it is too early to assess whether this will have a lasting effect on policies on the ground.

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