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Regional free movement of people

The case of African Regional Economic Communities

Sonja Nita

English abstract: While the idea of global free movement of people is discussed merely in normative terms, it has become a concrete policy goal in different world regions. The article aims to assess the prospects of regional free movement by discussing its theoretical and practical implications, with a specific focus on African sub-regional organizations. This is achieved by outlining the meaning, rights, and rationale of the free movement of people and by situating the regional level within the overall context of international migration governance. The eight African Regional Economic Communities serve as a practical illustration on how the goal of free movement is translated (or not) into concrete policies.

Spanish abstract: Aunque la idea de la libre circulación mundial de personas se discute sólo en términos normativos, se ha convertido en un objetivo político concreto en diferentes regiones del mundo. Este artículo tiene como objetivo evaluar las posibilidades de libre circulación regional (continental), discutiendo sus implicaciones teóricas y prácticas, con un enfoque específico en las organizaciones subregionales africanas. Esto se logra delineando el significado, los derechos y la razón de ser de la libre circulación de personas, y situando el nivel regional dentro del contexto general de la gobernanza de la migración internacional. Las ocho comunidades económicas regionales de África sirven como un ejemplo práctico de cómo se traduce el objetivo de la libre circulación, o no, en políticas concretas.

French abstract: Bien que l'idée de la libre circulation mondiale des personnes soit essentiellement traitée en termes normatifs, elle est devenue un objectif politique concret dans différentes régions du monde. Cet article vise à évaluer les perspectives de la libre circulation régionale en discutant de ses implications théoriques et pratiques, avec un accent particulier sur les organisations sous régionales africaines. Ceci est réalisé en soulignant la signification, les droits et la justification de la libre circulation des personnes et en situant l'échelle régionale dans le contexte global de la gouvernance de la migration internationale. Les huit communautés économiques régionales africaines constituent un exemple concret de la façon dont l'objectif de la libre circulation se traduit (ou non) par des politiques concrètes.

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Bob Deacon, Lorenzo Fioramonti, and Sonja Nita

In many respects, Europe and Africa (particularly Southern Africa) represent two opposing examples in the study of intra-regional migration and social cohesion. The European Union (EU) has been a global pioneer in allowing freedom of movement and portability of social rights across member states. A centerpiece of the EU integration process has been the progressive establishment of a common market, in which goods, services, capital, and people can move freely. With regard to the latter, the concept of free movement originally only targeted the economically active population (in other words, the free movement of workers) but was gradually extended by Treaty amendments to all citizens of the EU. This extension was further strengthened by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, which introduced the concept of citizenship in the European Union thereby establishing the fundamental and personal right to move and reside freely within the EU.

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Analyzing intra-regional migration in Sub-Saharan Africa

Statistical data constraints and the role for regional organizations

Stefano Degli Uberti, Philippe De Lombaerde, Sonja Nita, and Elettra Legovini

Africa has long been described as an immensely mobile continent and continues to be viewed in this vein (Amin, 1995; de Bruij n et al., 2001; IOM, 2005). The 2005 World Migration Report describes Africa as “the continent with the most mobile populations in the world” (IOM, 2005, p. 33). In Western Africa, for instance, almost 4.4 million migrants moved in 2005 to another country of the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) (World Bank, 2010). Compared to the overall international migrants in Western Africa (UNDP, 2009), South-South (S-S) migration accounted for more than 50% in 2005 (ACP, 2010, p. 5; Bakewell, 2009). The volume of intra-regional migrations in Africa seems to be inversely proportional to the availability of statistical data. The shortage of both quantitative and qualitative data on migration (Gnisci & Trémolières, 2006, p. 10; OECD/SWAC, 2006, p. 18; Ratha & Shaw, 2007; Zlotnik, 2003, p. 2) and timely information on population movements, whether internal or international, is a major obstacle to the understanding of migration dynamics in Africa. Nineteen of the 56 countries on the African continent have either no data or just one census providing any information on migrant stocks from the 1950s (Zlotnik, 2003).