People on the Move: Handbook of Selected Terms and Concepts related to Refugees and Migration

Editor and project Coordinator: Antoine Meyer
Co-editor: Auke Witkamp
Editorial Advisor: Antoine Pécoud (UNESCO)

Publication date: july 2008


An extensive terminology has evolved to cover standing and emerging issues related to refugees and migration as they also relate to the larger fields of human rights and development. This handbook takes stock of the present use of some selected terms and concepts. It is designed to be accessible to a general public which may not be familiar with the detailed discussions in the field of refugee and migration policy.

Civil society and the business sector play an increasingly important role in migration, and we also hope this handbook may be of use to them. Another intended audience is the media, firstly because many of the current perceptions on migration and refugees are shaped there, and secondly because terms are often incorrectly interpreted in media coverage.

Words matter, for labels impact people’s views and inform policy responses.
Brief comments are provided to complement the definitions proposed, to cover related terms or to highlight some issues behind the words.

For the purpose of clarity, the definitions are listed under the following sections:

Persons & Statuses: to identify the fundamental distinctions between the various persons concerned.

Terms and Concepts: to provide insights into the realities of the field and clarify emerging or recurrent topics.

Concepts of Reference: to frame discussions within a human rights and development perspective.

Download the Handbook

 back to overview

Contributions to the Contemporary Debate on Migration and Development GFMD – 2008

Input to the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development


authors: Frans Bouwen, Khalid Koser, Antoine Meyer, Yulia Poskakukhina, Aimee Rindoks, Auke Witkamp
language editors: Ian Curry-Sumner, Philip Rudge
Partner: Western Union 

Publication date: September 2008


The Hague Process on Refugees and Migration composed this document as input to the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development, held in Manila in October 2008.

The document has two main sections:
1. Inclusive Processes – Coherent Policies: The need to include local governments and to consider the links between migration and health
2. A Compilation of Reflections on the 2008 GFMD Roundtable Themes

The document also includes action points on:
– How to create inclusive policy processes, particularly including local governments
– Coherent policies on migration, development and health
– Strengthening policy relevance of research on migration, development and health

Download the Report

 back to overview

State of Play Review: Migrants, Cities and the Business Sector

A global review of research-based evidence for policymaking by cities and businesses on migration


author:dr. Alfons Fermin
Partner: Western Union

Publication date: February 2011


The overall objective of this review is to compile and analyse existing significant research on policies and strategies regarding migration and its challenges for cities and the business sector, with the ultimate aim of facilitating evidence-based decision-making. As a modest first step, this report offers a state of play, or in other words, a snapshot of the current state of research based evidence on migration, cities and the business sector. The review aims to: develop a profile and inventory of the available policy-relevant, research-based evidence; distil and prioritise significant policy recommendations; and identify major gaps and overlap in research.

THP has chosen to focus on the business sector and cities, as these two key stakeholders are often excluded from the international refugee and migration policy debates. This is remarkable as the overwhelming majority of migrants settle in cities and thus local governments are most directly confronted with the challenges related to migration. Whilst issues of international migration and mobility are becoming a core strategic interest of businesses, due to processes of globalisation and a growing interdependence of economies and actors. Furthermore, policies and strategies of these two stakeholders are often more practice-oriented and therefore appear to be more open for rational information and arguments. This review is intended to be of assistance for all relevant stakeholders in cities and the business sector across the world involved in policy-making in the field of migration; but also to researchers seeking insight in the work done to date.

Download the Report

 back to overview

Labour Migrant Works! The significance of labour migration for the Dutch economy and Dutch prosperity

Partners: VNO-NCW, MKB-Nederland, LTO Nederland
Publication date: February 2012


This publication takes a look at the significance of labour migration for the Dutch economy and Dutch prosperity. Labour migration raises questions for society and policymakers. The questions are legitimate. Are Dutch nationals driven out of jobs by foreigners who are cheaper? Why do we need foreigners when there are so many Dutch people without a job? Does the acceptance of foreign workers constitute an attack on our social security system? In a word, what do we actually get out of foreign workers and should we be cautious or generous about accepting foreign workers? The most important benchmark is whether or not our economy and our prosperity are served by labour migration. In this context, the perspective chosen is that of Dutch companies which determine demand on the labour market. That is an important perspective, because it is through Dutch companies that we must earn and maintain our prosperity. This publication has come into being in cooperation with VNO-NCW, MKB-Nederland, LTO Nederland, The Hague Process on Refugees and Migration (THP) and a number of companies established in the Netherlands.

Download the Report

 back to overview

Human Rights and Migration: The Missing Link

Author: Bimal Ghosh
Partners: Cees Flinterman, Morten Kjaerum, Khalid Koser, Theo van Boven, Stefanie Grant

Publication date: 2006


Protection of migrants’ human rights and effective management of migration (in the sense of ensuring that the movements of persons are orderly and predictable and, therefore, more manageable) are closely interrelated. However, existing literature on migration and human rights, though voluminous, has rarely endeavoured to bring this nexus into sharper focus. Policy making in the two areas has also remained largely peripheral to each other. Despite fledgling signs of a change, coalition between human rights organisations and migrants’ associations has continued to be weak.

This paper argues that the crucial nexus between human rights and migration constitutes the core of a commonalty of interests between those who are anxious to defend human rights and those concerned with better management of the movement of people. Nation States have an abiding interest and inherent stake in protecting the basic rights of their own citizens even when they are abroad. This calls for close inter-state reciprocity and co-operation. Protecting these rights also assists Nation States in fulfilling their obligations in other vital areas of their responsibility.

This paper concludes by suggesting that a better understanding of these relationships could lay the basis for a rich and proactive common agenda to which the State, human rights organisations and migrants’ associations can all creatively contribute, while advancing, and remaining faithful to their own vocations. As well as bringing migrants’ basic rights into the mainstream of the human rights movement, it would lend new vitality and dynamism to the movement itself.

Download the Report

 back to overview

Migrants’ Remittances and Development: Myths, Rhetoric and Realities

Author: Bimal Ghosh
Partner: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Publication date: 2006


Despite, or partly because of, the widening interest in remittances, the debate on the subject continues to be complex, and not infrequently confusing. For less affluent countries remittances hold significant potential for the promotion of family welfare and development, but excessive reliance on them also entails pitfalls. In the past, the development role of remittances has often been downplayed, and today the trend seems to be in the opposite direction. Clearly, an overemphasis either on the promises of remittances or on their pitfalls makes the debate unduly confusing and adds to the dilemma of policymakers.

The present study, prepared at the request of the Hague Process on Refugees and Migration (THP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) highlights the ways in which the development potential of remittances could be most effectively used, while avoiding the possible risks. In doing so, it seeks to help promote a more balanced approach to the issue of remittances and development, which, as indicated above, is now high on the global economic agenda.

Download the Report

 back to overview

Compendium of Rights Related to Migration

Author: Frans Bouwen, Olga Ferguson Sidorenko, Coen van Vulpen
Publication date: SEPTEMBER 2008


This ‘Compendium of Rights Related to Migration’ is born out of the concern that specific instruments regarding the rights of migrants like the ‘United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families’ (ICRMW), fail to be ratified or implemented. This gives the impression that migrant rights are different than, and even inferior to human rights, whereas they should be complementary and more adapted to the specific relation of the migrant with his/her host country.

This Compendium is more than a description of rights, obligations, and rules. It aims to identify all migrant related provisions in international human rights law, to demonstrate that independent of the ICRMW, these rights and obligations have been covered in texts that have been ratified. As such it is a handbook for practitioners in the field of migration and human rights law.

The discussion draws on experiences of past recessions showing that job-market recovery takes longer than economic recovery. He then examines how these trends – and government reactions to them in both rich and poor countries – have been influencing migration overall.

Download the Report

 back to overview

The Global Economic Crises and Migration – Where Do We Go From Here?

Author: Bimal Ghosh
Partner: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Publication date: 2010


The corrosive effects of the Great Recession – the worst since the 1930s – on labour markets and workforces are now widely known. These, in turn, are driving changes in migration policies and patterns – changes that can significantly influence social peace, inter-state relations, and the pace of global economic recovery. Yet these migration issues have thus far received little attention, with recession-related policy debates and public discussions mostly focused on financial rules and reform.

Into this void comes Bimal Ghosh’s new book, jointly sponsored by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and The Hague Process on Refugees and Migration, which bridges the policy gap and offers a fresh outlook on the future of migration. In exploring the recession’s impact on migration policies and patterns, Professor Ghosh examines the decline in economic growth – including international trade, capital flows, development aid, and remittances – and analyses its links to joblessness and incomes, poverty and inequality, and changes in the labour force.

The discussion draws on experiences of past recessions showing that job-market recovery takes longer than economic recovery. He then examines how these trends – and government reactions to them in both rich and poor countries – have been influencing migration overall.

Download the Report

 back to overview

THP Expert Consultations Final Report 2011-2012

EC Report

Over the course of 2011 and 2012, The Hague Process on Refugees and Migration (THP) hosted four expert consultations in four different continents on the local experience with refugee and migration policies. These consultations, held in Johannesburg, Toronto, Manila, and Istanbul, brought together stakeholders from the business sector, local governments and civil society. Topics throughout included: the challenges and opportunities, strengthening ties and commitments and building new working-relations where possible, as well as providing practical insights in order to improve the position of people on the move.

Click the link below to view the report
THP Expert Consultations Final Report

THP Global Hearing Report 2012

Summary of results from the THP Global Hearing

Global Hearing Report 2012 Cover

Global Hearing Report 2012

On 4 and 5 June 2012 over 200 people came together at The Hague Process Global Hearing on Refugees and Migration in The Hague, The Netherlands, to discuss pressing issues in refugee and migration policy.  They came from over 60 different states and from all continents.  National, regional and local government, business, the private sector, trade unions, cities, international organizations, NGOs, civil society, faith groups, academia, and the media were all represented. In plenary sessions and working groups, the participants identified challenges, discussed innovative solutions, and considered the full range of relevant actors and perspectives, focusing on five key themes: the impact of future demographic changes related to labour migration and refugees; political and social changes; the impact of the global economy; the urbanization of displaced people; and the impact of environmental and climate change on human mobility.  The discussions encompassed internal and international migration and included asylum seekers, refugees, and internally displaced persons.