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How Transnationally Effective are the UK Migration Policies in Relation to Missing Migrants?

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

By: Luke Nwibo Eda

All over the world, several thousands of migrants go missing when they attempt to flee from war, violence, persecution, repressive regimes, systematic human rights violations, etc. Thousands die each year in deadly shipwrecks in a desperate attempt to enter Europe and the United Kingdom. In these instances of deaths and loss, international human rights law imposes duties on states to account for people missing in transnational migration and to respect the rights of members of their families. Despite such provisions, states sometimes deny that they have obligations to deal with cases of migrants reported missing in transnational migration until migrants reach their territories. Such conflicting claims raise serious questions about migration policies and governance and how the subject of missing migrants should be dealt with at the international level. The newly adopted UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (Objective 8(a-f)) answers a part of the question by recognising that migration generally, and missing migrants specifically, is a transnational social problem which requires greater cooperation amongst states as well as policies with transnational effects. The United Kingdom was one of the earliest countries to endorse the new migration compact, hinting that it respects the sovereign rights of states to determine and implement their own migration policies and protect national interest. The Article asks if, from a transnational law perspective, the UK migration policy in relation to missing migrants is transnationally effective such as to facilitate enforcement of the new Global Compact and other related international instruments nationally. Existing evidence in the literature shows limited knowledge about the transnational effects of UK policies in relation to missing migrants. Therefore, the Article highlights the imperatives of strengthening, in order to avoid a future policy vacuum, the transnational effectiveness of UK policies in addressing the increasing cases of people who go missing while attempting to reach international destinations.


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