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The research agenda on corruption and migration

The research agenda on corruption and migration

Although development assistance has long been directed to migrants and their host communities, the recognition of migration as a development opportunity as well as a challenge has never been higher on the international agenda.

The UN Global Compact for Migration and the UN Global Compact for Refugees both envisage enhanced coordination among states to ensure positive development impacts from migration. The same principles of cooperation are set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (Target 10.7). And finally, the World Bank reinforced, in a 2017 report the need for new approaches to support solutions for refugees, IDPs and their local communities.

This agenda requires actionable research about how corruption can facilitate or obstruct (re)integration of forced migrants in third countries or within their countries of origin. How do systemic, day-to-day corruption practices (not only bribery but nepotism, cronyism, and trading in influence) influence migrants’ abilities to establish themselves? While some studies have exposed how corrupt practices within kin-based networks can both include and exclude migrants, a better empirical understanding of the corruption-return/reintegration nexus is sorely needed to guide development efforts. This is particularly true with respect to women’s experiences.

When it comes to border economies, the illegal trade of drugs, arms, and wildlife is often organised by networks also engaged in smuggling and/or trafficking in persons. Currently, both research and practical responses to organised criminal activity tend to focus on individual markets. Another research priority is therefore to consider border economies from an integrated perspective, to better address the negative impact that illicit activities have on inclusive development.


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