Melbourne Law School - Theses

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    Ordering human mobility: international law, development, administration
    Dehm, Sara ( 2017)
    This thesis examines how international laws and institutions have come to regulate human mobility in the contemporary world. The last two decades have seen a flurry of activity within international institutions concerned with facilitating the movement of people between states, including to and from states in the Global South. In this thesis, I characterise this activity as a form of international administration through which international institutions exercise authority over mobile people and contribute to shaping the conditions and possibilities of human mobility. In the contemporary moment, I argue that the international administration of human mobility has made lawful particular forms of human mobility, crafted certain migrant subjectivities and shaped specific practices of statehood for governing human mobility. This thesis demonstrates this argument through narrating three illustrative episodes of international migration administration from the mid-20th century onwards. These episodes identify a repertoire of techniques and practices that international institutions have used to render human mobility a problem of international concern and a subject of international administration. Specifically, I show that these diverse techniques and practices have been organised around two technologies of international administration: those of ‘population’ and the ‘human’. In paying attention to how these techniques and practices of international institutions have come to order different forms and subjects of international migration, this thesis foregrounds two recurring imperatives of the international administration of human mobility: that of authorising the lawful control of states over human mobility on the one hand, and that of facilitating and regulating the ‘optimal’ movement of peoples across the world on the other. I contend that the articulation of these imperatives has been mediated through the enterprise of development directed towards Third World states and people that underpins the contemporary international administration of human mobility. This thesis thus invites readers to take seriously how international law and institutions have shaped and ordered human mobility in the world. This thesis suggests that the techniques and practices of international migration administration have important consequences for the states and people of the Global South, who in the contemporary moment have become both subjects of ever-more restrictive migration controls and objects of ever-more prescriptive political interventions.