Security Implications of International Migration and the Challenge of Management and Regional Integration


BY Bola A. Akinterinwa

Prolegomena: Understanding the Topic and Thrusts of Paper

Migration has become a problematic in both international law and relations because it not only raises questions on the conflict of laws, but particularly also on the conduct and management of international peace and security. Migration is a security issue. It is a means of economic survival, a means of political struggle, as well as a major threat to national and international security.

Consequently, it is increasingly being investigated and discussed by scholars because of its multidimensional character. From Tuesday 23rd, to Thursday, 25th July, 2013, the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, in collaboration with the Delphi Consulting, held a special brainstorming session on Migration and Terrorism in West Africa, at the main auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja. One major rationale for the brainstorming session was the recognition of the very insecure environment of the West Africa region by then.

One other rationale for the brainstorming session was the identification of migration as a dynamic of regional insecurity. Since then, migration has not ceased to be an issue. It has increasingly taken the centre stage of international politics to the extent that there are not only proponents and opponents of international migration, but also observers who showed more concern about the security dimensions and implications.

The security implications of international migration may not be well appreciated without first putting the understanding of international migration in its appropriate context. In other words, what do we mean by migration? What makes migration international? What sense of ‘international’ do we mean here: bilateral, trilateral, plurilateral, multilateral or global? More important, from the perspective of legality, which type of migration are we also talking about because migration can be legal or illegal? Both legal and illegal migration have their implications, and particularly for security in all ramifications.

In fact, there are several types of migration from the perspectives of direction and dynamic. For instance, we can distinguish, on the one hand, between in-migration and out-migration, and, on the other, between human migration, economic migration, and environmental migration, which can be prompted by human activities or by natural disasters, and therefore, difficult to delimit in terms of scope.

Put differently, one current international challenge, in this regard, is the issue of climate change which is intertwined with the environment and which is quite different from migration induced by habitat fragmentation, water and air pollution and rapid human population growth with which specialists are more conversant. The general expectation as of now is that sooner or later, earth warming has the potential to compel migration of people.

Consequently, the notion of international migration can be quite ambiguous.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) defines migration as ‘the movement of a person or a group of persons, either across an international border, or within a State. It is a population movement, encompassing any kind of movement of people, whatever its length, composition and causes; it includes migration of refugees, displaced persons, economic migrants, and persons moving for other purposes, including family reunification’. The key words in this definition are movement across borders, migration of persons, and purposes of the movement or migration. This is why the understanding of the security implications of international migration should begin with an objective interpretation of the topic. In other words, what is the required analytical challenge? For our purposes in this conference, we use ‘international migration’ to refer to both legal and illegal human migration in all its ramifications.

In the same vein, there is the need to put the understanding of security in context: what is security? Do we mean security in terms of human security as defined by Third World scholars or state security? Should the analysis be limited to security of the stomach? In fact, the topic can be examined from the angle of securitisation of migration, both in terms of how security policies affect migration and how migration shape security policy making. In whichever way security and migration are conceived and understood, they are currently very significant questions in the quest for global peace and security as at today.

This cannot but be so because the Global Commission on International migration (GCIM) has it that there are about 200 million migrants the world over, 60% of whom reside in the developed world while the other 40% live in the developing countries. In this regard, the GCIM also has it that one of every ten people living in the developed world is a migrant. If this is admittedly so, it should therefore be borne in mind that migrants are human beings who have their mania of living before migrating to another country, who have to adapt to another cultural way of living on arriving at their new host state, and who following arrival, can infringe on local laws on the basis of psychology of human differences or even contribute to societal development in their host countries.

From the foregoing therefore, international migration cannot but be a critical issue in international law and relations, impinging on inter-personal relationships and on global peace and security in many ways. The importance of international migration can be gleaned from the perspective that it is one of the major issues that also explains in part the controversial Brexit policy in the United Kingdom as at today. In the same vein, one major headache with which the incumbent President of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump, is also faced is international migration.

And perhaps more notably, the cardinal objective of migration is not only security but also means of security. It is an anti-terrorism measure. Most unfortunately, however, the environment of migration is globally insecure. Its operational modalities are also insecurity-engendered, hence the growing anti-migration sentiments in many countries of the world. Explicated differently, it is not the act of migration that is the problem but the mania of going about it before, during, and after migration. This necessarily raises the challenge of management, implications for national unity and security, as well as the need to discuss migration and integration in the context of an environment of renewed and increasing nationalism that is increasingly very hostile to migration, and particularly to illegal migration.

This should be of a major concern to African leaders, especially the ECOWAS leaders because of insecurity in West Africa, and also because, of the 200 million migrants in the world, not less than 7 million of them reside in West Africa. Besides, one third of the people of West Africa not only live outside their district or village but also 42% of the total of international migrants residing in Africa are located in West Africa alone. In light of this, the discussion of the security implications of international migration has to reckon with the environmental conditionings of the ECOWAS region. And in doing so, this paper makes the following preliminary observations:

a)migration is first an intention before it is an act. As an act, it necessarily raises the problem of integration or admissibility in an intended host state. Consequently, migration and integration are not only important concepts and issues in contemporary international relations, but also constitute two sides of the same coin;

b)managing migration in any part of Africa cannot but go with complex challenges because, as a concept, migration is essentially about human life and its entire environment. Seeking to manage what is not well understood in its proper context cannot but also be futile in outcome;

c)the ECOWAS environment is currently fraught with many threats to national and regional security, and therefore to regional migration: the political imbroglio in Guinea Bissau, the political unrest in Guinea Conakry, the growing conflict between sanctity of colonial frontiers and the quest for self-determination, especially with the boko haramists in Nigeria, the Al Qaeda in the Sahel Maghreb sub-region, etc, are pointers;

d)while it may be possible to prevent or undo integration efforts, prevent insecurity, and particularly, terrorism, by dealing with the causal factors, as well as prevent or contain migration, it is important to also note that there is no way the intention to migrate can be out-rightly prevented. At best, it can only be controlled and managed. Consequently, in an elongated period of insecurity being witnessed in the world of today, migration can either be made difficult or facilitated, implying that the management of migration problems should be looked into in both ways (sending and receiving countries;

e)if integration at the national level is good and effective enough, and does not constitute a push factor for migration, the likelihood of migration will be at its lowest ebb, unless there is an environmental disaster or other force majeure. In the same vein, at the regional or international level, the hostility towards the enjoyment of the right of residence or establishment cannot but be reduced;

f)Insecurity and security is an important dynamic of migration because crises and conflicts constitute a push factor compelling the need to seek safety and security elsewhere. The boko haram-induced terrorism in the north eastern part of Nigeria has compelled many people to emigrate for reasons of force majeure. Consequently, the management of migration cannot but also be largely a function of how well a crisis or conflict is managed. In the absence of insecurity or threats of insecurity, migration cannot but be easier to manage;

g)The current era of national and regional insecurity is partly associated with Islamic fundamentalism. The world is currently faced with a high technology-driven terrorism, emerging new Cold War between the United States and China, arrogant display of politics of double standard such as evidenced in the mésentente between the African Union (AU) and the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as in the international cultural politics of gay rights. All these issues have implications for migration;

h)Development methodologies tend to place greater emphasis in contemporary international relations on integration as a possible catalyst for economic growth and development. It is partly for this consideration that ‘regionalism’ became an important subject in the study of international politics and relations. It is also for this reason that the United Nations has been pursuing global peace and security from a regional approach. At the level of Africa, for instance, for the purposes of enhanced economic development and fast-tracked integration in Africa, the African leaders decided to divide the continent of Africa into five regions (West, North, Central, East, and Southern) and then defined a sub-region as any two or more countries coming together within any of the regions of Africa. Thus, the expectation is that, if integration can be attained at the regional level, then it cannot but be easier to attain continental integration through increased migration and harmonization of the efforts of the five regions. In this regard, within the context of this integration needs, migration is supposed to be an issue to be addressed. In fact, this explains why the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of People and that of Right of Establishment were done. Consequently, management of migration and ECOWAS integration is largely a function of how well the protocols are adhered to and particularly how well the challenges of implementation are articulated, objectively and honestly addressed within the context of a supranational commitment by ECOWAS countries;

i)migration constitutes a desideratum in contemporary international relations, and therefore, no country, and particularly Africa’s former colonial masters, can totally close its doors to migration. Since it is admitted that the colonial masters seriously undermined and underdeveloped Africa, the under-development of the African environment cannot but push Africans to seek greener pastures in Europe. If Europe wants to contain the inflow of African and non-African migrants, the European Union must redefine its policy of ‘Solidarity and the Management of Migration Flows,’ to reckon with the geo-political and the current situational realities in Africa as a whole;

j) in light of the foregoing, any objective of management of migration, as well as ECOWAS integration in an era of national and regional security, ought to first reckon with the causal factors of migration in the ECOWAS region and with the dynamics of national and regional insecurity. In this regard, the reckoning should be done at three different, but complementary, levels: reasons for migration; the act or form of migration, with emphasis on its manifestations; and the challenges of settlement or establishment in the receiving community or state;

k)in general, the management of migration is best done on a collaborative basis: if a government has the right or prerogative to manage migrants in its country, the moment the migrant goes beyond the international frontiers of his/her country, the law of the new host country naturally applies. Since a migrant can be a terrorist or a threat to regional peace and security, it is only a collaborative effort and management that can help nip in the bud unwanted migration. Since the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement is not only a multilateral agreement, but also a major source of migration problems and insecurity, management efforts should begin with the review and re-conceptualisation of the protocol;

l)And perhaps most significantly, ECOWAS Member States are to take a second look at their border security policies in light of the porous nature of their international frontiers. Nigeria, for instance, does not have border patrol guards. Nigeria does not even have a monitoring mechanism for foreigners living in local communities. It is useful to state here that, under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, instruction was given to the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to establish presence in all the 774 Local Government Areas. While the NIS is apparently seen to be responding, the NSCDC is not. There is the need to monitor the activities of foreigners in Nigeria and particularly the effects of migration into the country. Consequently, seeking management of migration should not be by wishing. It must go with commitment and provision of whatever is required for the management. We all are currently in a world of globalisation in which, not only ICT is predominating, but also in which migration and integration have become major issues of concern.

l) the paper, in the final analysis, submits that migration is not only a desideratum by reasons of force majeure, but an activity with advantages and disadvantages that all political leaders have to learn how to accept to manage. The way Europeans migrated to Africa allegedly on the basis of civilising mission may not be the same way potential migrants may be migrating to contemporary Europe. However, whether anyone likes it or not, migration is now an instrument of globalisation which, again, has become irreversible. The challenge then is how best to manage the problems of international migration.

From the foregoing, an introductory attempt is made to argue in favour of the need for collective action to tackle migration-induced insecurity in the ECOWAS region. The inflow of many foreigners into Nigeria, without proper documentation of their records has the potential to seriously threaten national security in the foreseeable future. A simple reminder of the current politics of boko haramism and Fulani herdsmen-farmers saga is a pointer. For instance, whenever it is convenient, it is easily argued that those involved are foreigners, especially when Government is not able to contain the excesses of the enemies of the State. When it is not convenient, the story is presented differently.

Consequently, there is the need to take the issue of migration, be it legal or illegal, more seriously and collectively. But the collective action must start from the national level by taking some initial basic steps: distinguishing between the obligations created by the ECOWAS Protocols on Free Movement of Goods and People, as well as Protocols on Rights of Community Citizens to reside and establish in any Member State of the ECOWAS, on the one hand, and the obligations created by other international instruments, especially from the implications arising from the international conception of migration and migrants.

In this regard, for instance, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) defines environmental migrants as ‘persons or groups of persons who, for reasons of sudden or progressive change in the environment that adversely affects their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual homes, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and who move either within their country or abroad.’

Explained differently, in order to qualify as a migrant, there has to be a situation of force majeure. Whereas, the ECOWAS protocols referred to above consider free movement from the perspective of freedom and right without having to be compelled to migrate. Community citizens have the right to choose where to go and where to establish.

In substantiating the foregoing observations, the rest of the paper will first attempt a cursory analysis of what we should mean by migration, migration in the context of ECOWAS integration, before investigating the security dimensions of international migration, and particularly the insecure nature of the West African environment. This will enable an objective analysis of the prescriptive measures for the purposes of not only making migration more beneficial in policy making, but also how best to manage migration and regional integration in the ECOWAS region to the advantage of ECOWAS Community Citizens.

2. Why Migration in West Africa?

Despite the importance of migration and its socioeconomic and political implications, it is the least studied demographic phenomenon in West Africa. However, the general consensus amongst analysts points to West Africa’s long and diverse history of regional and international population mobility. Its citizens are said to be amongst the world’s most mobile populations. As noted earlier, estimates indicate that of the 191 million migrants scattered across the globe, nearly 7 million people are from the West Africa region . According to De Haan, around one third of West Africans live outside their district or village of birth, whilst 42 per cent of the total number of international migrants residing in Africa are located in West Africa alone . Both internal and international flows in West Africa appear to have diversified in recent years, with more countries producing migrants, and these migrants moving to a range of new destinations .

Population mobility during the pre-colonial period was dominated by and response to human needs. In fact, the factor which led to the migration of most of the larger tribes is thought to have been in search for favourable ecological conditions, fertile land, food, shelter, as well as greater security during the period of tribal warfare in the 19th Century. Migration during the colonial period was enhanced by the booming export sector promoted by the economic policies of the colonizers.

For example, some Yorubas were brought from Nigeria to construct Fort James in Accra. Migration also occurred largely in search of security, new land safe for settlement and fertile land for farming, significantly altering the motivation and composition of migration flows through the introduction of various forms of imposed political and economic structures. Developments in rail, roads and other infrastructure led to the growth of cities such as Accra, Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Abidjan, Lomé, Dakar and Cotonou, triggering major rural-rural migration of farm workers and rural-urban migration of skilled and unskilled workers, traders and students .

After Independence, patterns of population gradually developed, stimulated by several development factors such as long-distance trade, the search for pasture, urbanisation and the growth of administrative centres, the demands of mining, industrial production and plantation agriculture, armed conflict, land degradation, drought and rural poverty; migration has played a major part in shaping settlement patterns in the region . For instance, the expansion of cash crop productions such as cocoa in Ghana and coffee in Côte d’Ivoire attracted migrant workforce from Burkina Faso and Mali. The success of the French automobile industry in the valley of the Senegal River also brought in immigrants’ labour into the region.

Côte d’Ivoire hosted some 240,000 refugees in 1991, while the refugee population in Senegal and Mali stood at 53,000 and 14,000 in 1991, respectively . Other tension in the region such as border tensions between Senegal and Mauritania in 1989, the Chadian crisis from 1982 to 1990, the Tuareg conflict in Mali and Niger from 1990 to 1997, conflicts in the Mano River countries from 1989 to 2000 and, more recently, the crises in Mali and Guinea, generated a massive exodus of internally-displaced people within the countries concerned and refugees abroad. Exodus of internally-displaced people necessarily involved migration in many ways.

Movement to Europe and North America also appears to have been higher in West Africa than in other parts of the continent. As a matter of fact, figures from the 2000 US census shows that West Africans made up more than half of those born in sub-Saharan Africa, with most entering the country since 1990 . Education has been one of the primary motivations supporting these figures. Analysis of the host countries of the 65,000 West African students in the university education system in OECD Member countries supports this observation. While the majority of Francophones study in France (from 84% Senegalese to 52% Guineans), Anglophones prefer the United States (60% of Gambian students, 50% of other nationals of Anglophone countries). From 1960 to 1990, it has been estimated that international migration alone involved 7.2 million people, excluding Nigeria, representing around 11 per cent of the median population of the region in that period .

Census-based estimates by the United Nations Population Division suggest that West Africa has the largest absolute international immigrant stock (based on place of birth data) in Africa. According to Hass, it is the only part of sub-Saharan Africa where migration stocks, relative to the total population, have been increasing over the past few decades . West Africa has experienced a variety of migrations caused by population pressure, poverty, poor economic performances and endemic conflicts. Historically, migrants regarded the region as an economic unit within which trade in goods and services flowed, and people moved freely.

Migration policies have also dictated and determined people mobility. West African migrations are fast becoming part of a dynamic and unstable world migration system, and thus, are strongly affected by economic and migration policies, whether inviting or restrictive, both in developed and developing countries. This is primarily due to recent migration patterns modelled along the new forces of globalization of which, Yaro argues, are transforming the way in which countries relate with each other. The passing of indigenization policies by countries to protect the few available jobs in addition to expulsion and stricter border controls impeded free movement of people within the sub-region. On the other hand, the establishment in 1975 of the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, in spite of some difficulties, had achieved some measure of success. The flow of population from the region constitutes a relatively large proportion of all immigrants in most of the Member States. Statistics from the Ghana Immigration Service shows that, one in every three persons arriving in Ghana between 1999 and 2002 is from ECOWAS Member States .

3. Migration and Insecurity in West Africa

Migration and insecurity are two inextricably woven issues that have remained a major threat in the ECOWAS region. While regional migration may lead to insecurity and vice versa, regional migration and insecurity remain prevalent in the ECOWAS region and this has dire consequences for security and stability of the region. In West Africa, climate change and environmental factors, food crisis, refugee flows, poverty and unemployment, and terrorism are major causes and resultants of migration. In West Africa, agriculture is the major source of livelihood and source of food, and this makes the region largely vulnerable to environmental influences, climate and food insecurity. Between 1992 and 2003, 35% of food emergencies were caused by conflict and economic problems .

The Sahel region of West Africa, which comprises Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Mali, with its extreme weather situations, persistent drought and famine, is experiencing low crop yields and serious food crisis, and this has resulted in the mass movement of people in search of work and food. For example, as a result of the food crisis in Niger in which more than seven million people are in need of food , thousands of Nigériens have entered the five northern Nigerian states of Katsina, Yobe, Jigawa, Sokoto and Borno, seeking casual labour in areas that are also facing food insecurity .

The National Emergency Management Agency in Nigeria (NEMA) has reported that about 12 million people in the region are at risk of hunger. This continued influx of Nigériens to Northern Nigeria engenders conflicts over the scarce food resources in the area. The food crisis in Niger has also impacted negatively on the pastoralists and the herdsmen who move down south in search of pasture for their animals. In pastoral areas, production is 66% below national needs . Due to pressures from desertification and drought, some Nigérien pastoralists have shifted their migratory routes southwards into Nigeria in search of animal fodder and better grazing. This has resulted in the herdsmen migrating to the southern part of Niger and other neighbouring countries, including Nigeria to find pasture, a situation that is causing clashes between them and farmers on their trail. We all know the current problems already created for national security by the feud between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers.

Youth unemployment and its corollary, underemployment, has become a central political-security issue in West Africa, in addition to being a socio-economic one . This problem which has led to the migration of people to different countries seeking a means of livelihood comes with dire consequences of conflicts and instability within the region. These young men and women in search of work move from one country to the other and, in most cases, end up being recruited into criminal and terrorist groups. In some countries, such as Sierra Leone, the number of young people lacking proper work exceeds 50% . Northern Nigeria which boasts of a large number of able bodied and unskilled youths have come under the influence of terrorist and criminal groups, ready to take up arms in exchange for money.

The Boko Haram terrorist group in Northern Nigeria consists mostly of young men recruited as a result of their lack of means of livelihood. And it has been established that there is a link between the Boko Haram sect and external radical forces in the region, especially the Al-Qaeda in Maghreb, while Mali and other countries like Sudan are mentioned as training grounds for the sect. Cross-border recruitment of young people as mercenaries in armed conflict is all too common in the arc of territory extending from Guinea-Bissau to Côte d’Ivoire, combined with many other cross-border problems in West Africa, including small arms, mercenaries, illegal check-points and drug-trafficking . This, as a matter of fact, is causing insecurities in the domestic internal affairs of each nation as well as in the region.

At the level of Nigeria, as a case study, Nigeria is a regional power in West Africa. Besides being the most populous country, Nigeria’s oil resource endowments and huge oil sector earnings, especially in the 1970s, made the country quite attractive to foreigners. This led to the influx of persons from neighbouring countries whose economies were relatively less endowed. This situation explained the oil-induced employment opportunities that had attracted thousands of migrants of all skills in their numbers from Ghana, Togo, Chad, Mali and Cameroon and other countries within and outside Africa to work in the construction and services sectors between 1970s and 1980. In addition, the professional and skilled immigrants were recruited as mostly teachers in secondary schools in the country. Following the collapse of the oil prices in the international market in the early 1980s and its devastating impact on the Nigerian economy, the situation took a different turn.

Following these developments, the Nigerian government took several initiatives to reposition the economy for improved performance. The Nigerian government at that time perceived the aliens to be an additional burden on the Nigerian economy and decided to expel them. The largest case of mass expulsion of the aliens took place in Nigeria in 1983 and 1985 as a necessary approach to manage the impact of the economic crisis on the country. By early 1983, the Nigerian Government revoked Articles 4 and 27 of the Protocol to expel between 900,000 and 1.3 million illegal aliens, mostly Ghanaians.

In June 1985, about 2 million illegal aliens were again expelled as domestic economic crisis deepened. This development created a crisis of confidence between Nigeria and some members of the ECOWAS, such as Ghana. In spite of entreaties by the Heads of State of the other Member States of the ECOWAS, the Nigerian government, under General Muhammadu Buhari and later General Babangida, remained adamant. The expectation of the government was that the reduction of illegal migrants in Nigeria will have positive impact on the economy, as well as safeguard security. How to explain this expectation can be difficult, especially bearing in Mind that Nigeria is an economic pull epicentre for the ECOWAS region, and especially in light of the ECOWAS Protocol on Rights of Establishment.

But, in spite of this, since the 1980s, the number of immigrants coming to Nigeria has rather been on the increase. According to Afolayan , the number of immigrants in Nigeria which was estimated between 751,126 and 972,126 in 2000 and 2005 respectively, rose up to about 1.1 million people in 2010. It is also estimated that majority of these immigrants are nationals from neighbouring ECOWAS countries. It has been argued further that, immigrants from Benin republic, Ghana and Mali, with about 29, 022 thousand persons, represents the largest number of nationalities in Nigeria.

There is no doubt that the history and political economy of West African countries highlights a system of cross-border ethnic, religious and economic relationships, that makes such borders porous and immigration checks almost meaningless in most cases. Therefore, with unchecked immigration, the major issue which Nigeria, like other countries in the West African region has had to contend with, especially in recent times, is the problem of security. Increasingly, Nigeria has been confronted with increasing challenges posed on its internal security by influx of small arms and light weapons, human trafficking, cross-border crimes, and recruitment of aliens for terrorism. So long as Nigeria stands strategically above other member nations in comparative terms, it remains attractive to citizens from its neighbouring countries.

4. Security Implications and Issues

Let us begin with the explication of the implications first. The debate on the linkage between migration and security is predicated on security implications of international migration on both the destination countries and countries of origin in different forms. Two obvious questions are presented for further reflection, namely: What the security implications of immigration on the destination societies? What are the security implications of emigration on the countries of origin of the emigrants? In addressing these questions, the following issues are raised: Transnational Crimes of Human Trafficking and Slavery;

Xenophobia Against Immigrants; The phenomenon of Brain Drains, International Terrorism; and Foreign Radicalization

The brain drain implication of emigration has been a major security concern for many developing countries. This is because, as noted in a UNODC report, if these emigrants remained in their country of origin, they would have made important contributions to national development. However, the motivation to emigrate probably indicates some degree of dissatisfaction with employment prospects or other conditions in their home countries. However, with a growing awareness of the economic contributions of international migrants, many developing countries have begun to recognize the immense contributions of their citizens abroad beyond the narrative of brain drain.

Regarding international terrorism and foreign radicalization, the current migration-security nexus debate has been predicated on the notion that illegal migrants are easy victims of terrorist radicalization which is a growing security concern for both destination and home countries of immigrants. However, Ben Emmerson, a UN human rights expert observed that ‘the perception that terrorists take advantage of refugee flows to carry out acts of terrorism, or that refugees are somehow more prone to radicalization than others … is analytically and statistically unfounded, and must change’. He further noted that ‘migration policies that lead to restricted access to safe territory and increased covert movements of people, particularly by traffickers, may ultimately assist terrorists and lead to increased terrorist activity’.

The issue of xenophobia against immigrants is equally insecurity-inducing and linked to international migration. As identified by the Human Development Report of the UNDP, ‘the vulnerability of all migrant groups to exploitation and mistreatment in host countries has been highlighted along with an emphasis on protecting their rights. However, xenophobia has not yet received explicit attention although anti-migrant sentiments and practices are clearly on the rise even in receiving countries in developing regions.’ Research has shown that in most host countries, different forms of racial discrimination, hostility, and violence experienced by migrant communities are prevalent.

As regards transnational crimes of human trafficking and slavery, Michael Chibba has it that trafficking in persons is a major security issue which involves movement of persons across borders for the purposes of prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour, human organ harvest and slavery. Rachel Vogelstein observed that ‘domestic servitude, which forces someone to carry out daily chores in a private household, is another form of slavery that overwhelmingly targets women and adolescent girls. Victims of domestic servitude can be trafficked across continents and lack the workplace protections to prevent mistreatment, exploitation, and sexual violence’.

She further noted ‘sex trafficking and sexual exploitation can also manifest as a form of debt bondage, with traffickers claiming that individuals must work in the commercial sex industry to pay for the expenses incurred in the process of their migration. These transnational crimes associated with migration as being a major source of security concerns in many countries.

In terms of the security implications of international migration, they can be looked at from three perspectives: before migration, during migration, and after migration. In doing so, there is also the need to distinguish between the positive and negative implications. If the purpose of migration is positive, the implications cannot but be positive. When the ulterior motives are criminally in orientation, there is no way the implications will not be negative.

4.1 Before Migration

Before migration begins, it can be considered as an intention or an objective, but the nature of the objective is, at best, well known to the would-be migrant. However, various governments have made efforts, especially following 9/11, to prevent the exportation of criminal minds to their countries by suspecting that every incoming passenger, every intending migrant is a terrorist or a criminal and, therefore, should be consciously and cautiously investigated. For instance, in Asia, countries like Japan, have introduced biometric travel and ID document, a sort of Smart Card. Some countries, Like China, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc, have also considered introducing biometrics in travel documents. Malaysia has introduced a new biometric passport with thumb prints.

In Western Europe, the European Council has adopted the policy of total war against illegal migration and has directed all its Member States to concentrate attention on the establishment of a common identification system for visas. In this regard, biometrics are to be included in the new EU-wide visa registration system (Schengen Information System). Member States are to comply with the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 on Freezing of funds and financial assets or economic resources of persons and entities.

In fact, a CIREFI (Centre for Information Exchange) has been established for purposes of sharing information on current trends in irregular migratory flows. And perhaps more interestingly, harmonisation of judicial cooperation, agreement to establish a Common European Asylum and Migration Policy, as well as the need for a common European visa format and shared data-base are projects in the making and all of which are aimed at combating illegal migration.

In addition, at the level of individual Member States of the European Union, different measures against illegal migration have also been considered. For example, The Netherlands has not only broadened the circumstances under which the police may demand identification from people within the territory, but has also established anti people-trafficking units and airline gate checks. Lithuania has introduced oral questioning of passengers at airports, as well as performance of aircraft checks before passenger boarding. Germany has put in place a Central database of passport photos for foreign nationals.

Back home in Africa, African leaders have not addressed the issue of migration directly but have looked at how to deal with international terrorism which involves migration. In this regard, the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism of 21 August 2002, defined what constitutes a terrorist act, provided for areas of cooperation among African States in order to prohibit the proliferation of terrorism. And true, the 2002 Convention also provided for ‘strengthening methods of controlling and monitoring and detecting cross-border transportation, importation, exportation, etc of arms, ammunition explosives and other materials capable of being used to commit the acts of terrorism…’

As good as these measures all are, to what extent have they been effective in the prevention of terrorism through restriction of migration or immigration policies? In the study of twelve different restrictive policies that Western democratic states use to screen immigrants for terrorism prevention, Seung-Whan Choi has revealed that, ‘on the one hand, terrorism is likely to decrease when States impose immigration restrictions based on skill or wealth, or when States offer immigrants limited legal rights that permit only restricted residence and designated employers.’ He submitted further that, ‘on the other hand, terrorism is expected to increase when States allow no special visas or procedures to recruit immigrants, or when States grant workers citizenship only when they are born to a native parent. These mixed findings suggest that, to deter future terrorist incidents, States should be selective in initiating and implementing new immigration reforms.’

From the foregoing, a migrant is considered as a security risk, a suspect simply taken as a potential criminal. The suspicion is not yet a crime, but this is an implication of the fact that he is a migrant. This cannot but be so because majority of the populations (59%) in ten countries of the European Union believe that refugee inflows constitute a terrorism risk in their countries. In the United States, Donald Trump’s Executive Order of January 27, 2017, which banned the entry of nationals of some countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen), is a reflection of this suspicion.

As noted in the Executive Order, ‘it is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.’ It is within the context of this suspicion that the understanding of international migration before migration should be put. It is the need to protect international borders, prevent terrorism that migration has become a critical issue in the management of global security. And without doubt, migration is a national and international security issue in itself.

4.2 During Migration

During migration, migrants are subjected to preventable situations of insecurity. This is more true of Africans trying to go to Europe through Libya or Morocco or Algeria. Many of the migrants have died during migration. The first implication for security of migration during transit is loss of life. While going through the Sahara Desert under harsh temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit). Many of the migrants die of starvation and thirst. The hostility of Governments is noteworthy.

The Algerian Government, for instance, under probably the pretext of the pressure from the European Union not to allow illegal migrants to pass through its territory, simply arrest all migrants, especially coming from Niger, Mali, Guinea, The Gambia, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, etc, and dump them at the border of the desert for them to find their way back home.

In this regard, Algerian authorities are on record to have abandoned more than 13,000 migrants in the past fourteen months in the Sahara desert. Many of them have died because they could not find their way. Many of them have also died because they were walking barefooted across the burning sand. The desert heat was blistering. More than 30,000 migrants have died since 2014 as a result of attempts to migrate and achieve greener pastures. The challenge here is how to secure migration as an act.

4.3 After Migration

After migration, different questions are raised: is the security of the migrant guaranteed in the host state? How do we prevent the new migrant from engaging in criminal activities, especially the manufacture of small arms, engagement in radical terrorist meetings? Apart from issues of terrorism, what about xenophobic sentiments in the host community? How do we explain the xenophobic attacks to which Nigerians are subject in South Africa? In fact, in which way is a migrant cannot be said to be a threat to national security of the host country?

There is also the aspect of insecurity resulting from the right of establishment and hostility, both at the level of government (eg Nigerian businessmen in Ghana) and criminality as it is with the case of Chief Ope Bademosi, who was killed last week by a Togolese cook he had just employed. The Togolese has the right of residence and establishment but his activities in Nigeria have been very criminally

When Ghanaians were expelled in Nigeria, some of the reasons officially given included their engagement in armed robberies. It was largely on this basis that Nigerians came up with the slogan of ‘Ghana Must Go’ in Nigeria? Expulsion of illegal immigrants was not peculiar. And true, it should be remembered that Nigerians have been expelled in Kenya and the Côte d’Ivoire. Several times, Nigerians have been deported from Libya and from Gabon in mass. The same is true of expulsion of Nigerians from Equatorial Guinea. Thus, the problem which the issue of migration permanently poses is how to manage it since it is a desideratum and since it is a desired greener pasture with evil dimensions.

5. Concluding Remark: Managing Migration for the Purposes of National and Regional Security

Many questions loom in our discourse. First, how do we manage migration in the face of national and regional insecurity without impeding ECOWAS efforts at integration? Second, cognizant of the protocol on free movement of persons and goods in ECOWAS integration process, what do we manage – persons, goods or services? This underpins the fact that, in some cases, goods that crisscross our borders have a measure of being lethal and capable of posing insecurities. Therefore, the question now remains, what do we do to address this problem? A more traditional approach to managing security in many of our borders would be to set up security checks and/or enhance security at the borders of member states, by bringing in more border patrols, police and even soldiers.

In that stead, many people and goods will be subjected to stringent and uncompromising scrutiny. On the contrary, individual nations may also decide to close its borders against other citizens and immigrants of Member States, because of the fears that they may be a harbinger of threat and insecurity. Adopting this conventional method, which have always been the case with many nations, have also often caused diplomatic brawl amongst them. And for regions where there is offing and a shift towards integration, there are probability that integration as a process for instance in ECOWAS will be truncated, and aside that, it will also constitute a breach of the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of goods and services.

An assessment of both the push and pull factors that engendered migration portrays that managing migration in a way that will not hamper the ongoing integration process in ECOWAS and at the same time safeguard security of the nation and the region, will have to go beyond the conventional and state-centric approach to security as put forward by realist theorists and states that toe this line. That does not mean doing away with mainstream traditional approach to security. Many other complexities that undermine or give rise to national and regional insecurities will have to be taken into consideration, i.e. complexities that are all encompassing, that will have to involve the legitimate concerns of ordinary people who sought security in their daily lives.

Today, it has become imperative that there is a need to readjust to the new realities of insecurities in the 21st century. As new threats are becoming increasingly clear, there is also need to find means of mounting concerted, collective responses to global problems and conflicts, as such, human security, conceived of as the linking of security to development should be paramount. In that vein therefore, managing migrations in an era of national and regional insecurities must begin within national governments.

To begin with, good governance, economic growth and development should be the priority of governments of member states. Good governance, as described here, is a system of administration that is democratic, efficient and geared towards the enhancement of economic growth and development . As records have shown, Africa is known to be one of the most fragile continents in the globe. The twenty-first century has seen many African states (especially in West Africa) in conflicts and chaos. Some states within the region are failing, while others have failed and some others are categorized as fragile or weak states. This categorization is predicated on the fact that leadership and governance problems are the foremost push factors that have necessitated economic downturn, conflicts and subsequent migration. Many governments in West Africa are no longer positioned for social provisioning.

On the one hand, the economic despair in many of the Member States actually triggers their citizens to migrate in search of greener pasture, and, on the other hand, causing insecurity in many of the host countries. Therein lays the question, if the immigrant mother land is good, why will he or she prefer to go to other countries in search of employment? Therefore, managing migration in the era of national and regional insecurity will mean that many states within the region will have to prioritize their national and economic planning to give room for economic growth, employment and development, as well as being cognizant of issues of climate change and environmental degradation. Recent data have also shown that, in recent times, the after-effect of climate change is also causing huge migration as well as conflict of citizens versus non-indigene which caused so much havoc in some nations of the region, e.g. Côte d’Ivoire.

Thus, in addition to the effective border patrols and beefing up security, the surest way to manage migration without breaching the Free Movement Protocol, is to ensure an enduring good governance, sustainable economic growth and development, as well as controlled migration within the framework of Articles 3 and 27 of the ECOWAS Treaty both of which provide for free flow of persons, goods and services, by calling on the Member States to ensure graduation removal of all obstacles to free movement of persons, services and capital. .

In conclusion, migration can be a major threat even if it is considered at the individual level, not to mention when it is considered in its group or collective sense. Countries from which migrants are leaving suffer from loss of brain drain and manpower needs, especially when the migrants are highly skilled. In the receiving states, the settlement of migrants also creates the fear of job loss to them. In fact, the truth is that migration has created special fears in the receiving states that an uncontrolled inflow of migrants has the potential to destabilise the cultural settings of the homeland, as well as threaten national security.

Monika Wohlfeld has noted in this regard that ‘while the majority of migrants migrate in search of work and economic and social opportunities, a relatively small percentage of migrants are people fleeing armed conflict, natural disaster, famine or persecution. Human migration has taken place throughout history and has at times been considered as a threat, but more often as an opportunity’. Perhaps more significantly, it is more often than not regarded as opportunity, ‘migration took place from Europe to other parts of the world, and security challenge or threats when the trend is reversed and migration took place from other part of the world into Europe.

In the current global debate on security, international migration has become a critical issue. This is largely due to the fact that there has been increasing securitization of international migration at the level of the European Union (EU) in which international migration was primarily considered a threat to national identity.

As distinct from the motivation for the debate on migration at the level of the EU, the securitization of migration began in the aftermath of 9/11 terror attack in the United States when the threat due to terrorism became the premise for the debate on the securitization of international migration. It was until this period and event that mass immigrant settlement was considered a security challenge to public order, cultural identity, societal security and the labour markets. In the perspective of Felicia Wennerhed, ‘migration is an issue that belongs to the sector of society, where the existential threat is directed towards identity, language and culture’.

However, other schools of thought have argued that international immigrants have to a very great extent contributed to the development and security of the societies where they have settled. This is underscored by the different skilled immigrant policies such as the US diversity lottery and the Canada express entry to encourage the immigration of skilled professionals into the US and Canada respectively. This kind of policies guarantee security of manpower and expertise for the countries that have adopted them.

These two situational realities of merit and demerit of migration led to the generation of the debate that created the linkage between international migration and security. Hence, the concept of securitization of migration. The Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS) defines securitization as a process of social construction that pushes an area of regular politics into an area of security by resorting to a rhetoric of discursive emergence, threat and danger aimed at justifying the adoption of extraordinary measures .

In general terms, it is difficult to define migration as a whole as security threat without categorizing it into the type that can cause security challenge. More specifically, irregular migration has been increasingly identified as security threats to national security. As noted by Monika Wohlfeld, ‘IOM defines irregular migration as migration that takes place outside the regulatory norms of the sending, transit and receiving countries. Thus, ‘from the perspective of destination countries it is entry, stay or work in a country without the necessary authorization or documents required under immigration regulations.’ Additionally, it has also been observed that there is an increase in the number of irregular migrants for, at least, four reasons, namely: increased mobility as a result of globalization, and advances in transport and communications; increasing limitation of legal migration possibilities due to government control measures; substantial mismatch between the supply and demand sides for labour; and mass migration due to gross violations of human rights, civil wars and conflicts in the country of origin.

In conclusion, in understanding and dealing with the security implications of international migration, there is always the need to bear in mind the environmental conditionings, the positive and negative dimensions, the fears of the host community, as well as the global context of the war on international terrorism, especially in light of possible use of nuclear arms and pointers to the African continent as the next theatre for the war on terrorism.