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Multilateral Approaches to Mobility in the Middle East and North Africa Region

Enfoques multilaterales de la movilidad en la región de Oriente Medio y el Norte de África
Approches multilatérales de la mobilité au Moyen-Orient et en Afrique du Nord
Daniel Naujoks

Abstracts

Development plans increasingly integrate aspects of migration and displacement, reflecting the countless links between sustainable development and human mobility. To understand the incorporation of issues related to human mobility into development plans and policies, this chapter analyses all current United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The MENA region is characterised by high levels of outmigration and displacement, transit migration, immigration, and hosts a large share of the world’s refugees. UNDAFs – planning documents that provide a system-wide overview of key United Nations (UN) activities and functions at the country level – provide a promising platform to investigate linkages between migration, displacement, human development, multilateral and interagency cooperation, and the politics of development aid and international relations. To assess how exactly UN development plans address immigration, emigration, transit migration, internal and international displacement, diaspora engagement and remittances, this chapter introduces the Index of Mobility Inclusion (IMI) which measures the intensity, modality, and dimensionality of how mobility has been integrated into development plans. Based on an analysis of all current UNDAFs, the component and aggregate IMI levels show varying degrees of mobility inclusion. A comparison of the three IMI components for all 14 plans in the MENA region reveals that mobility-related policies include a broad range of public policy sectors and focus on various target populations. This paper concludes by offering initial insights into and hypotheses on what determines whether mobility is included in UN development plans.

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I am grateful for insightful comments and suggestions by Benjamin A.T. Graham, Lisa Anderson, Michael W. Doyle, and Elaine Lebon-McGregor. The long process of perfecting the NVivo structure benefitted immensely from the guidance by Robert Scott at Columbia Library. Special thanks to Frederik Matthys at the UN Development Coordination Office for the continuous support on UNDAF documents and to Riad Meddeb for in-depth discussions. For excellent research assistance, I thank Luz Gil and William Ross Sommer. Lastly, I thank anonymous reviewers and the editors of the special issue, Dêlidji Eric Degila and Valeria Marina Valle for their advice and support.

1. Introduction

1The scope of discourses on and investigations into human mobility is widening geographically and with regard to concepts and questions. Human mobility is an umbrella category to encompass various forms of movement and their legal and policy ramifications. Specifically, it includes migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and diaspora populations (Naujoks, 2021).

2Whereas migration research has traditionally focused on mobility-related policies in the so-called global North, the study of mobility in the global South has traditionally focused on diaspora affairs or refugee issues (Adamson and Tsourapas, 2019a; Natter, 2018). As countries in the global South host 44 per cent of the world’s migrants, there has been a recent shift in the attention to understand the realities of South-South migration (Hujo and Piper, 2010; Nawyn, 2016; Short, Moazzem and Adil Khan, 2017; Sadiq and Tsourapas, 2021) and migration policy-making in the global South with regard to immigration (Arcarazo and Freier, 2015; Klotz, 2013; Natter, 2018; Norman, 2018 and 2020; Thiollet, 2011) and emigration (De Haas, 2007; FitzGerald, 2014; Naujoks, 2013; Tsourapas, 2019a; Burgess, 2020).

3Even though this scholarship shows a high diversity of mobility scenarios, narratives, and policy responses, Pisarevskaya et al. (2020) find that despite a rapidly growing field of migration research over the past 30 years, the diversity of topics has remained relatively stable. As global mobility research moves toward ‘recentering the South’ (Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, 2020), new lines of inquiry should go beyond replicating studies and testing established theories from the global North to inductively use global South experiences, constellations, and processes to generate new theoretical insights. In fact, few comparative studies exist that extend their scope beyond a select few country examples. This chapter aims to establish such a new line of inquiry. The analysis is situated at the intersection of three research fields: national policies on human mobility in the global South, development planning, and the role of the United Nations (UN) and multilateral actors in supporting governments to address human mobility.

4In the global South, UN agencies are involved in many aspects of development endeavours that range from macroeconomic policies over specific schemes on employment, rule of law, energy, health, and education, to programmes and policy advice on climate change, water management, national security and gender. While mainstream academic interest in migration policies in the global South is relatively recent, development actors and the UN have engaged in policy processes in the global South for more than 20 years (Geiger and Pécoud, 2014). This involvement has increased, in particular since the first High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development at the UN General Assembly in 2006 (Naujoks, 2020). As of 2010, the UN interagency mechanism on migration, the Global Migration Group (GMG)—which in 2018 transitioned into the UN Network on Migration—has actively promoted integrating migration into development planning (GMG, 2010). Such activities have grown since migration was attributed explicit targets in specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that guide development programming and specifically mobility-related development programming across the globe (Naujoks 2018; 2019). International discussions on norms and policies have also received an important boost through the discussions on, and adoption of, the Global Compacts on Refugees (GCR) and for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in 2018 (Ferris and Martin, 2019; Micinski 2021).

  • 1 As an exception, Geha and Talhouk (2019) show how the relations between Lebanon’s government and UN (...)

5Whereas scholars have devoted attention to global migration governance (Aleinikoff, 2017; Awad, 2017; Betts, 2011; Micinski and Weiss, 2018), little is known about the activities of the UN at the country level and its interactions with local processes. Geiger and Pécoud (2014, 866) stress that the ‘role and activities of IOs [International Organisations] in the politics of migration remain under-researched’. A growing body of scholarship sheds light on the role of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in executing European migration preferences in Northern Africa and its focus on ‘migration management’ (Brachet, 2016; Bartels, 2017; Dini, 2018; Bradley, 2020; Geiger and Pécoud, 2020), though the specific interactions with country processes and links to broader UN processes are generally not examined.1

  • 2 In 2019, UNDAFs were renamed UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks (UNSDCFs or ‘Coopera (...)

6United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) provide an ideal platform to investigate some of these linkages. These planning documents provide ‘a system-wide overview of key UN activities and functions at country level, in support of national policies, priorities and plans [] while ensuring coordination, coherence, effectiveness and efficiency for maximum impact’ (UN-DOCO, 2017, 4). Given the fragmented system of UN entities (Karns, Mingst and Stiles, 2015), UNDAFs aim to bring more meaningful cooperation to the fragmented UN country teams (UNCTs).2 However, such interagency processes are subject to competition between UN agencies, the limitations of joint planning, the influence of national politics, and donor preferences (Mele and Cappellaro, 2018).

7In 2016, 91 per cent of all 119 current UNDAFs contained some reference to migration and displacement (GMG, 2017, 9). The GMG guidance note on integrating migration and displacement into UNDAFs found that:

Countries and UN agencies increasingly aim at mainstreaming migration into their development activities. Mainstreaming migration is generally understood as the process for integrating migration issues in a balanced manner into the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in any sphere related to development and poverty reduction.

GMG, 2017, 6

8The average annual budget for the 14 UNDAFs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region amounts to USD 210 million, with Lebanon alone accounting for USD 1 billion. However, not much is known about the details or processes of mobility inclusion and their impacts. Adamson and Tsourapas (2019b, 115-116) observe that states often engage in migration diplomacy vis-à-vis international organisations, migration diplomacy referring to ‘states' use of diplomatic tools, processes, and procedures to manage cross-border population mobility’. This chapter aims to start a discussion on UN development plans at the national level as one of the key interfaces between international organisations, national governments, and global processes. The exploration of such plans provides an interesting venue to explore the impacts of changed mobility narratives, global norm diffusion, and the role of the UN and mobility-related priorities and policies in the global South.

9The remainder of this chapter is organised in the following manner: After discussing the case selection, I introduce the Index of Mobility Inclusion (IMI). The establishment of this novel, comparative framework that measures the incorporation of migration and displacement in UN cooperation frameworks constitutes one of this chapter’s main contributions. Based on all current UNDAFs in the Middle East and North Africa, the subsequent section illustrates the various dimensions of incorporating mobility-related ideas into development plans. Migration policy is often defined as laws and policies admitting newcomers or allowing and organising emigration processes (Adamson and Tsourapas, 2019b; Arcarazo and Freier, 2015). Where nuanced frameworks exist, they remain rooted in concepts that may be limited in their transferability to the global South. For example, Rosenblum and Cornelius (2012, 253) differentiate between ‘admissions policies that determine who is permitted to enter; policies regulating the terms of admission, including visa time periods and naturalization rules; immigrant integration policies; and enforcement policies to deter, prevent the entry of, and remove unauthorized immigrants’. The examples from UN cooperation frameworks contribute to a broader understanding of mobility-related policies that include a broad range of public policy sectors. This advances a more nuanced understanding of public policies beyond the ‘integration’ paradigm of differentiated policy options for various mobile target populations.

10The final section will provide a few initial insights into and hypotheses on what determines whether mobility is included in UN development plans. While limitations in space do not allow for a comprehensive analysis, this chapter aims to offer avenues for future investigations.

2. Case Selection and Methodology

  • 3 The remaining countries in the MENA region, namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israel, Kuwait, (...)

11This chapter provides a content analysis of all current UN development plans—UNDAFS—in the MENA region adopted between 2015 and 2018.3 The 14 countries analysed in this chapter jointly host more than a third of the world’s refugees. A quarter of all refugees originate from the region, which is simultaneously characterised by high levels of outmigration and displacement, transit migration, and immigration.

12Table 3.1 provides an overview of key characteristics for the 14 MENA countries with current UNDAFs that are covered by the analysis. Four documents were analysed in French and the remaining ten in English. The sample includes countries of different sizes, ranging from Djibouti with under a million inhabitants to Egypt with a population of close to 100 million. It covers high income countries (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia), upper middle-income countries (Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon), lower middle-income countries (Djibouti, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia) and low-income countries (Palestine, Syria, Yemen). The sample also represents varying levels of state fragility, from considerably fragile states such as Yemen, Syria and Iraq to those with low levels of fragility such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

13The analysis of mobility-related content of the UN development plans is based on a three-step process. Using the qualitative research data analysis software NVivo, an automatic keyword coding query was supplemented by an automatic uncoding query following the coding scheme in Table 3A1 in the online annex.4 The result was then manually checked and corrected by two coders. While the scheme is close to comprehensive for extracting all keywords, there remain minor terms that are not covered by the analysis such as when development plans refer to populations from ‘neighbouring countries’ or ‘non-Lebanese’; however, such references are rare, generally occur in conjunction with captured keywords, and do not appear to change the overarching trend.

14The deeper understanding of integrating mobility concerns into UNDAF processes is based on the author’s involvement in such processes for more than 10 years, including as co-chair of the Global Migration Group’s (GMG) Working Group on Mainstreaming Migration, 15 semi-structured expert interviews on UNDAF processes conducted in February 2016, and 10 phone and email expert interviews conducted in August 2020 with specific reference to UNDAF processes in the MENA countries.

Table 3.1 Details of sample MENA countries

 

UNDAF details

Population

Fragile States Index*

GDP per capita**

World Bank income group

(in millions)

 

Start

End

Language

(Year before UNDAF)

Djibouti

2018

2022

FRE

0,9

88,9

4 885

lower middle

Palestine

2018

2022

ENG

4,7

..

5 755

low

Morocco

2017

2021

FRE

35,1

74,2

7 109

lower middle

Jordan

2018

2022

ENG

9,8

78,7

9 841

upper middle

Iraq

2015

2019

ENG

34,4

102,2

10 401

upper middle

Tunisia

2015

2019

FRE

11,1

77,5

10 505

lower middle

Egypt

2018

2022

ENG

96,4

89,8

11 014

lower middle

Algeria

2016

2020

FRE

39,7

79,6

11 511

upper middle

Iran

2017

2021

ENG

79,6

86,9

14 205

upper middle

Lebanon

2017

2020

ENG

6,7

89,6

16 109

upper middle

Bahrain

2018

2022

ENG

1,5

64,9

47 642

high

Saudi Arabia

2017

2021

ENG

32,4

72,2

48 627

high

Syria

2016

2018

ENG

18

107,8

..

low

Yemen

2017

2019

ENG

27,2

111,5

..

low

Sources: UNDAF details: author’s compilation. Population, GDP, WB income group: World Bank’s World Development Indicators database; Fragile State Index: Fund for Peace (2020).

Note: Sorted by per capita GDP in ascending order.

* Higher Fragile States Index scores indicate higher levels of fragility. Scores levels are classified as: above 90: “Alert”; 60.0-89.9: “Warning”; 30.0-59.9: “Stable”; 0.0-29.9: “Sustainable”

**GDP in PPP in constant 2017 international $.

3. The Index of Mobility Inclusion (IMI)

15To understand the incorporation of issues related to human mobility into development plans and policies more broadly, this chapter introduces the IMI. The IMI is comprised of three components, measuring the intensity, modality, and dimensionality of how mobility has been integrated into plans, in this case into UNDAFs.

16The intensity of mobility inclusion is based on how many references to migration and displacement are used in a text. As the specific count of references is less meaningful than the general level of inclusion, the IMI uses specific levels of intensity that range from no intensity (2 references or fewer) to high intensity (more than 75 references) (Table 3A25). The coding categories for the intensity component follow inductively from the distribution of references in the broader sample of 489 UNDAFs analysed by the author. To allow for a more nuanced analysis, the intensity not only provides information on the total number of mobility references, but also specifically on those related to migration or displacement.6

  • 7 Obviously, there are reasons why even clearly formulated objectives may not lead to meaningful impl (...)

17Knowing merely how often a plan mentions mobility is of limited analytical value. For this reason, the IMI’s second component assesses the modality in which mobility is referenced. Importantly, the index distinguishes between plans that mention mobility only in the situation analysis or the narrative from those that include it in actionable outcomes. Pointing out the importance of migration or remittances for the economy or highlighting certain characteristics of displaced populations in the text shows an awareness of mobility issues, but without a focus in the strategic priorities, indicators, and activities in the results framework, there is no direct incentive or mandate to focus programming and policy activities on mobility (Chimhowu, Hulme and Munro, 2019). Such inclusion is meaningful to the allocation of resources and the formulation of theories of change that may influence the actual impact (Deverajan and Kanbur, 2014). The lack of clear outcomes and results lead to a ‘migration gap’ between the migration-related announcements and general objectives on the one hand, and actual policies and their enforcement on the other (Hollifield, Martin and Orrenius, 2014).7

  • 8 Based on the SMART indicator methodology, the IMI defines indicators as meaningful when they are Sp (...)

18For this reason, the IMI differentiates between five modality levels. At level 1, there are no references to mobility. Level 2 denotes that mobility is integrated solely into the narrative of the document. The top three levels (3–5) assess how mobility is incorporated into actionable priorities. At the low-priority level, only a minor incorporation of mobility in the results framework occurs, for example, following the UN official guidance, UNDAFs define among several vulnerable groups IDPs, refugees, migrants, stateless persons, and survivors of trafficking (UN-DOCO, 2017, 2). However, fewer than three specific mentions in targets exist. At the medium-priority level, development plans feature three or more explicit references in indicators and outcomes, but fewer than six meaningful mentions in indicators.8 At the high-priority level, a plan shows a thorough integration of mobility questions in the results and outcomes and includes mobility issues in the monitoring and evaluation framework with at least six meaningful indicators.

19The third component of the IMI is the dimensionality of mobility inclusion. Dimensionality is a composite indicator that combines a focus on different target groups with the policy areas in which they occur. Focusing on a variety of target populations is important because ‘there is so much variety within the global South and South-South migratory flows are so diverse, that one should be aware that [expressions such as South-South migration] are inevitably oversimplifications at best, or sweeping generalizations at worst’ (Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Carella, 2020, 203-204). Thus, plans can include language on different groups of emigrants, regular and irregular immigrants, transit migrants, returnees, diaspora contributions, refugees hosted in the country and own refugees residing abroad, IDPs, climate migrants, and others.9 Drawing on the dashboards on policy coherence for migration and development (KNOMAD, OECD and UNDP, 2020) and general UN guidance (GMG, 2017), the IMI’s dimensionality component considers whether mobility is included in a variety of policy domains, such as health, education, employment, social cohesion, agriculture, and environment. A greater level of engagement in different areas shows a higher level of mainstreaming. It also differentiates UNDAFs that list several categories of mobile populations as potential groups in the same indicator from plans that have a higher level of mobility mainstreaming. Dimensionality is coded in five categories. Leaving aside plans that do not feature mobility, the coding categories range from plans that focus on one or two groups and on not more than two policy dimensions to plans that explicitly mention more than four different mobile populations and also more than three policy dimensions (Table 3A210).

20For most purposes, the individual components of the IMI are the most meaningful measurements to assess the incorporation of mobility into development plans. In addition, the IMI offers two aggregations of the components to facilitate further comparisons. The aggregate IMI is a simple addition of the codes from its three components, which leads to an index range from no inclusion (0) to high levels of inclusion (11). Based on the aggregate IMI score, development plans are divided into the four IMI categories: zero, low, medium, and high.

21The IMI measures the extent and quality to which human mobility has been incorporated into development plans or in this case UNDAFs. However, the IMI is not an expression of the extent to which mobility issues should have been included in such plans. For a variety of reasons, it is perfectly reasonable for governments and UNCTs not to include refugee, diaspora, or immigration issues. Thus, the IMI is not a direct expression of how well a country and UNCT understand mobility issues. However, in conjunction with other information, the IMI can be used to examine the mobility and political determinants for higher and lower levels of mobility inclusion. The final section of this chapter will briefly elaborate on these.

22While the IMI is a useful tool for understanding various domains of mobility incorporation, it comes with inherent limitations. The dimensionality of mobility incorporation only assesses whether or not different populations and policy sectors are mentioned, without reflecting the intensity or meaningfulness of such incorporation. The limitations are necessary, however, to reduce complexity and allow the IMI to be scaled up with relative ease. As is the case with any index, building the IMI comes with certain inclusions and exclusions (Gest et al., 2014; Bjerre et al., 2015; Vink and Helbling, 2013). I hope that it provides a useful tool to measure the complexity of mobility inclusion in development plans and policies. The next section applies the IMI to all UNDAFs in the MENA region and highlights particular areas of interest.

4. The Index of Mobility Inclusion for UNDAFs in the MENA Region

23The component, aggregate, and categorical IMI levels for UN development plans in the MENA region display varying degrees of mobility inclusion (Table 3.2). Lebanon’s and Morocco’s UNDAFs receive a high IMI score; those of Djibouti, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria have a medium score; while those of Bahrain, Egypt, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen are all in the low IMI category. Only Algeria and Iran are at IMI level zero. The three-dimensional model in Figure 3.1 visualises how countries’ UNDAFs differ in the three index components. Unsurprisingly, a higher intensity of mobility inclusion is generally associated with more substantial inclusion in terms of modalities and dimensionality. However, the three index components show that important differences in mobility inclusion exist between the countries. Morocco’s plan has the highest reference count in the sample—129 references—and is the UNDAF with the broadest inclusion of groups and policy sectors (dimensionality). However, as Lebanon’s plan also has a thorough integration of mobility in the results, it receives the highest overall IMI score.

24To highlight the differences in the components in the 14 countries in our sample, the next subsections will shed light on each component separately, starting with the intensity and modality and then presenting dimensionality aspects in the MENA region.

Table 3.2 Components and aggregate for Index of Mobility Inclusion (IMI) for UNDAFs in the MENA region

Table 3.2 Components and aggregate for Index of Mobility Inclusion (IMI) for UNDAFs in the MENA region

Sources: Author.

Note: Sorted by IMI aggregate score in descending order. The aggregate IMI is based only on the total intensity. However, the migration and displacement intensities are given for illustrative purposes.

Figure 3.1 Index of Mobility Inclusion (IMI) for UNDAFs in the MENA region

Figure 3.1 Index of Mobility Inclusion (IMI) for UNDAFs in the MENA region

Sources: Author.

Note: Columns without text only support the readability of the graph.

4.1 Intensity and Modalities of Mobility Inclusion in the MENA Region

25The UNDAFs in the MENA region incorporate human mobility to significantly different levels. Morocco’s UNDAF tops the intensity of mobility references with 129 mentions, 95 of which are on migration-related keywords and 34 of which are on refugees and displacement. This is followed by Lebanon with a total of 108 references, 94 of which are on displacement and 12 on migration (Table 3.3).

Table 3.3 Mobility references and Intensity of mobility references

 

Mobility references

Total

Migration

Refugees and Displacement

Remittances*

Smuggling and trafficking

Deportation

Morocco

129

95

34

0

0

0

Lebanon

108

12

94

0

2

0

Iraq

97

12

83

0

2

0

Djibouti

71

19

47

0

5

0

Syria

59

16

41

0

2

0

Jordan

51

10

40

0

1

0

Saudi Arabia

27

14

10

0

2

1

Yemen

25

11

14

2

0

0

Egypt

23

11

7

0

5

0

Palestine

19

1

18

0

0

0

Bahrain

4

0

3

0

1

0

Tunisia

3

3

0

0

0

0

Iran

1

1

0

0

0

0

Algeria

0

0

0

0

0

0

Sources: Author.

Note: Sorted by total mobility reference count.

* Remittance references are counted as migration references. However, given the prominence of the remittance discourse, these references have been highlighted separately.

26At the low intensity level, Tunisia’s UNDAF contains only three references to migration and none to displacement. Two references recall a previous joint programme on youth, employment, and migration in the section on lessons learned from past UNCT cooperation. In addition, migrants are enumerated among the vulnerable groups that require specific social protections in view of international treaties and human rights standards, but no specific outcomes mention migrants. In Bahrain, the framework refers to training for the government and civil society groups on international refugee law and protection of refugees, as well as medical assistance for Syrian refugees in Bahrain. Palestine has a special relationship to displacement, which permeates all areas of life for those in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as for the six million Palestinian refugees. However, while there are basically no references to migration in Palestine’s UNDAF, the document also features only 18 references to displacement. Considering the relatively low intensity of mobility references, it is interesting to note that the UNDAF incorporates them in a meaningful way by establishing specific targets for reducing the unemployment rate of refugees in camps or lessening their food insecurity.

27In the medium-intensity range, two countries have a low modality score, as they do not include specific priorities, indicators, and targets (Yemen and Saudi Arabia). While the remaining four UNDAFs in this bracket reference mobility in their key outcomes and priorities, two of them do this in the low-priority (Egypt and Djibouti) and the other two in the medium-priority category (Jordan and Syria).

  • 11 For a discussion SDG target 8.8, see Naujoks (2018, 102-114).
  • 12 The UNDAF also lists activities where not the UNCT per se, but specific agencies, such as the Unite (...)

28Yemen is both a sending and a host country for refugees. Its UNDAF features 25 mobility references, 14 of which are on displacement and 11 on migration. Although the plan focuses on IDPs, it does not include actionable outputs. Saudi Arabia is the country with the highest per capita GDP in the sample. In 2015, it hosted more than 10 million migrants, corresponding to a third of its population, making it one of the major migrant host countries in the world. This relevance is only partly reflected in the UNDAF with its 27 mobility mentions, including 14 on migration and 10 on displacement. In addition, several of these references are counted twice due to repetition of text within the document. Although the UNDAF highlights the fact that the principle of ‘Leaving No One Behind’ is applicable to foreign and migrant workers, referencing Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 (Targets 10.7 and 10.c), it omits references to SDG Target 8.8 on migrant workers’ social and labour rights, which is noteworthy given that Saudi Arabia has been criticised for its treatment of migrant workers’ social and labour rights (HRW, 2019).11 The UNDAF outlines plans for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to support Saudi Arabia in the building of inclusive and tailored human rights indicators on migration and migrants and to work with the country on a rights-based approach to business sector involvement for migrant labour recruitment and employment policies. The document also lists refugees, migrant workers and stateless persons among the vulnerable groups whose rights the UNCT will focus on.12

29The UN development plans in Egypt and Djibouti show a similar intensity of mobility references to Saudi Arabia, but a higher degree of mobility modalities. Egypt’s UNDAF incorporates a total of 23 references to human mobility, 11 of which are on migration, seven on displacement and five on human smuggling and trafficking. Among the five key focus areas in which the UN sees its comparative advantage, Egypt’s UNDAF focuses on improving the balance between labour demand and supply and on improving the flows of internal and external migration. The plan highlights that the UN system will be:

instrumental in providing support to the large numbers of refugees and migrants that Egypt is generously hosting. This support includes direct provision of assistance to refugees and migrants and assistance with repatriation to countries of origin and resettlement in third countries. The UN system also provides targeted support to national agencies that have to cope with the demands of refugees and migrants for services including health and education. The UN system further works on improving relations between refugees/migrants and host populations and countering human trafficking.

30In addition to this comparative advantage, the plan recognises the possible limited emigration opportunities for Egyptians as presenting a risk to achieving the agreed targets for sustainable, resilient and job-producing economic development. However, as this does not translate into specific activities and agreed outcomes, Egypt’s UNDAF receives only a medium-low score with regard to the modalities of mobility incorporation.

31Djibouti’s UNDAF includes a total of 71 references to mobility. Under the UNDAF’s fourth ‘effect’ to provide legal protection for vulnerable populations, the UNCT envisions supporting the government in providing access to legal protections, including for migrants and refugees, and especially in connection with a recently adopted refugee law.

32Jordan and Syria also figure in the medium intensity of mobility references, but both countries’ UNDAFs have a meaningful integration of mobility in the results framework. Jordan is one of the top refugee-hosting countries in the world, it is part of the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan for the Syria crisis, and two years before the start of its UNDAF, the government entered into the Jordan Compact with key donor countries that would provide for additional rights and support for Syrian refugees (Tsourapas, 2019b). The narrative section of the UNDAF stresses that the Syrian crisis has had ‘a significant impact on Jordan’s development gains, affecting the overall capacity to provide adequate services to its people and refugees alike’, citing a baseline survey according to which more than 80 per cent of refugees live below the national poverty line. To foster institutions at national and local levels that are more responsive, inclusive, accountable, transparent and resilient, Jordan’s plan foresees the ratification and translation into domestic law of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. The plan further conceptualises refugee-specific challenges toward achieving the goal that ‘[p]eople, especially the vulnerable, proactively claim their rights and fulfil their responsibilities for improved human security and resilience’.

  • 13 When using migration-related keywords, the UNDAF is often referring to international movements, inc (...)

33Since 2016, civil war has made Syria the country of origin of the largest absolute number of refugees in the world, while simultaneously having to contend with a large number of IDPs. In a country that faces active conflict and massive disruption of general life, development endeavours are challenging, and while development planning instruments have shorter durations, they often have a stronger link to humanitarian actions. Syria’s UNDAF includes a total of 59 mobility references, 41 of which relate to displacement and 16 to migration.13 The UNDAF explains, ‘[a]s a consequence of the crisis, Syria has witnessed multiple displacements which, combined with the refugee caseload, exceed more than 50% of the population’. For this reason, the framework plans to concentrate the UN’s investments on ‘programmes that deliver basic essential services to the population at national and local levels, with particular emphasis on displaced people and host communities and people facing deprivation and different forms of vulnerability’. Even though IDPs figure prominently in the overall vision of the UN’s engagement, they are not included significantly in the results framework, where they only feature as risk factors for two outputs. Specifically, output 2.4 on rehabilitating housing and essential infrastructure sees IDPs or refugees lack of willingness to return as a risk, and output 3.3 on rehabilitating the environment and natural resources conceptualises the potential of a worsening drought as a risk for exacerbating urban migration and increasing social tension and crisis.

34Only three UNDAFs in the sample reach the highest intensity level of 75+ mobility references, namely Iraq, Lebanon, and Morocco. They all integrate mobility into their strategic outcomes to some extent, but only Lebanon does this in a comprehensive way.

35Iraq’s UNDAF has the third-highest level of mobility references, and the second highest count of references to refugees and displacement. Overall, the plan has a considerable focus on IDPs, who ‘represent a particularly vulnerable segment of the population. Some are exposed to the constant risk of eviction by the authorities, and they struggle to access basic services and adequate resources’. To address their plight, the UNDAF includes a large programme on durable solutions. The plan highlights that the country is facing challenges associated with Syrian refugees. With regard to specific targets, under the UNDAF priority to address acute vulnerability and participation gaps, strengthened resilience through enhanced government and community disaster risk management capacities is measured by the reduced number of IDPs and informal settlers. While this is an important objective, it could be argued that given the limited influence of the UNCT on many factors leading to internal displacement and the overall complexity of this issue (Orchard, 2019), it is hard to establish clear causal links, which may not be ideal for the actual implementation of programming activities.

36Morocco’s UNDAF tops the overall and migration-specific references in the sample with 129 total mentions, 95 on migration, and 34 on displacement. In the next section of this chapter, which discusses the dimensionality of UNDAFs, Morocco’s plan shows a high level of mainstreaming and awareness of mobility concerns, yet there are relatively few direct indicators or targets in its results framework. Where migrants or refugees are included they are generally named as one of the vulnerable populations, and none of the indicators or targets focus directly on mobility. Mobility is, however, referenced in the chapeau of the health objective and in the UN activities in the economic development objective. Nevertheless, the UNDAF mentions specific programmes to reduce school dropout that focus on the retention of vulnerable groups, especially girls, migrants, and refugee children.

37With a total of 108 mobility references, Lebanon’s UNDAF has the second-highest number in the MENA region and it has the most references to displacement, reflecting the fact that the country has been the top refugee-hosting country in the world for many years, when measured in terms of refugees as share of the population (UNHCR, 2020). The integration of human mobility and particularly refugee issues in Lebanon’s UNDAF stands out not only with regard to the extent of this, but also in terms of the qualitative inclusion, as the plan integrates mobility concerns into actionable outcomes, indicators, and activities. Out of a total of 57 indicators in Lebanon’s UNDAF Results Framework, 15 include refugees. Seven of these have a specific target and focus on refugees, while a further eight mention refugees for the disaggregation of data. This matters because it enables specific programming, especially given the overall strong focus on refugees in the document and Lebanon’s policy environment.

38Specifically, Lebanon’s UNDAF states that the UN will support local peacebuilding and conflict prevention initiatives by helping to establish local peacebuilding committees that bring together displaced populations and host community representatives. The development plan includes a specific target number of policies and plans to be adopted by the government vis-à-vis refugees and asylum seekers that are in line with international standards. It aims at increasing the number of court rulings that make reference to international human rights, refugee and labour norms, the number of new legal measures adopted to facilitate timely and affordable access to justice for vulnerable groups such as refugees, migrant workers, or victims of trafficking, and to increase the share of refugee newborn babies whose birth is registered with the Lebanese authorities from 32 per cent to 90 per cent. It also envisages specific development outcomes for refugees with regard to access to social protection, direct assistance (for example cash assistance, shelter, emergency assistance, food assistance) and access to health care for vulnerable refugees without formal health insurance coverage.

39Concerning outcomes on data collection, the development plan foresees disaggregation with regard to refugees and non-Lebanese for indicators measuring people accessing services from social development centres; short and long-term employment; girls and women reporting satisfaction with services provided; improved access to local, communal infrastructure and services in the most vulnerable areas; safely managed drinking water services; managing wastewater safely; enrolment in preschool, primary and secondary education; and improved access to electricity.

4.2 Dimensionality of Mobility Inclusion in the MENA Region

40Of the 12 UNDAFs in the sample with mobility references, seven have low dimensionality, meaning that they consider a limited range of target populations and policy sectors. Three UNDAFs have medium-low dimensionality and none have medium-high dimensionality. Only two of the UNDAFs reference more than four different mobile populations and also more than three policy dimensions, leading to them being categorised as having high dimensionality. I will first provide an overview of the target groups mentioned in the plans and then highlight key policy areas that are covered.

4.2.1 Target Populations

41As mentioned above, the majority of countries in the sample have a clear focus on refugees and displacement and a lesser focus on other aspects of migration (Table 3.3). For this reason, many UNDAFs focus predominantly on refugees or IDPs (for example in Jordan, Palestine, Djibouti, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen). Refugee target groups can refer to refugees from a country living abroad, returned refugees or refugees hosted. In this regard, Syria, Iraq and Yemen are not only refugee sending countries—despite their domestic crises they continue to host refugees. Thus, Syria’s UNDAF counts Palestine refugees as vulnerable populations and aims to provide health care services for up to 450,000 of them. In 2016, the year prior to the start of the UNDAF, Yemen hosted 280,000 refugees, predominantly from the Horn of Africa. Despite the ongoing conflict in the country, Yemen sees new arrivals each year. Importantly, the same year, Yemen saw a large inflow, when 100,000 migrants and refugees crossed the Red or Arabian Seas (IOM, 2017).

  • 14 Saudi Arabia’s UNDAF also includes a mention of stateless persons. However, as stateless persons in (...)

42Other forms of population inflows are referenced more sparingly. In addition to refugees, Saudi Arabia’s and Egypt’s UNDAFs include language on resident migrant workers as vulnerable groups.14 Djibouti’s UNDAF mentions irregular transit migrants, mostly hailing from Ethiopia, moving toward the Gulf countries via Yemen. It also mentions the negative impact on food security of the influx of agro-pastoralists from neighbouring countries, who were displaced by the drought caused by the knock-on effects of the weather phenomenon El Niño. Lebanon’s UNDAF has a differentiated system of explicitly focusing on resident populations ranging from the broadest group of ‘non-Lebanese’ to migrants, refugees per se, and more specifically Syrian or Palestinian refugees.

43Considering the prevalence of the migration and development discourse since the first High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in 2006 and the creation of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) the following year (Rother, 2019), it is remarkable that diaspora populations and their positive contributions are almost entirely absent from the plans. Yemen’s UNDAF mentions consultative meetings with the diaspora in the drafting of the UNDAF. Morocco’s UNDAF flags the role of Moroccans abroad for the commercialisation and marketing of agricultural production and plans to support a strategy on agricultural value chains that seeks partnerships with migrants and, in particular, diaspora actors. Interestingly, countries with active diaspora policies and sizeable diaspora populations abroad, such as Tunisia, Lebanon, and Egypt (Table 3A315), do not include any diaspora references in their UNDAFs.

44Yemen’s UNDAF is also the only framework in the sample to include references to remittances. However, it does this only to highlight the negative economic consequences deriving from the decrease in such transfers. Specifically, the framework predicts a contraction in real GDP and the purchasing power of the population, which is also influenced by the decline in remittances. It also reports that the return of 900,000 migrant workers in 2014 increased the burden on agricultural production, while simultaneously reducing their families’ remittance receipts.

45Additionally, emigration is largely absent from the plans—especially as a meaningful policy area. In line with Egypt’s permissive emigration policy (Tsourapas, 2019a), its UNDAF mentions the potentially limited emigration opportunities for Egyptians as being a risk to achieving the agreed targets for sustainable, resilient and job-rich economic development. Jordan’s UNDAF acknowledges the perils of sustained emigration of ‘educated or talented individuals’, as ‘whole population segments are thus unable to fulfil their potential and make their contribution to Jordan’s development’. In Syria, displacement and outmigration of teachers are presented as key challenges for the education system.

46Morocco’s UNDAF has the broadest range of mobile target populations, referring to immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees and Moroccan returnees, as well as diaspora and emigrants. It also includes estimates and policy approaches towards irregular immigrants, originating—according to the plan—from sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe and Arab countries. These populations are flagged as vulnerable groups and the UNDAF refers to the exceptional regularisation campaign of irregular migrants that was implemented in 2014.

4.2.2 Incorporating mobility into different policy sectors

47The diverse incorporation of mobility issues in the 14 UNDAFs in the MENA region is reflected in the policy areas for which migration and displacement are referenced. Key sectors for integrating the concerns of mobile populations are employment and livelihoods (Djibouti, Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Lebanon), education (Djibouti, Syria, Morocco, Lebanon), health (Djibouti, Morocco, Lebanon), social protection (Djibouti, Iraq, Morocco, Lebanon), social cohesion (Iraq, Morocco, Lebanon), and rights and justice (Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon). This reflects the conceptualisations in Naujoks’ (2019) ‘mobility mandala’, which show that human mobility is a key aspect of economic growth and employment, health, education, democratic governance, climate change and other sectors, linking it to all 17 SDGs and nearly all of their 169 targets—often in multiple ways.

48The bulk of migration references describe facts or programmatic activities relating to the vulnerabilities of migrants, refugees or displaced persons. In a few instances, UNDAFs also refer to drivers and root causes of mobility. For example, Syria’s plan highlights that ‘[t]he crisis has devastated Syria’s infrastructure, and greatly diminished access to basic services that were previously widely available. Combined with insecurity and impoverishment, the consequent difficulties of life trigger growing displacement and migration, further reducing service delivery capacities’ (emphasis added).

49Djibouti’s UNDAF emphasises the need for employment generation for vulnerable populations to address the root causes of displacement. Morocco’s framework stresses the country’s exposure to significant climate change vulnerabilities, including desertification, as a root cause of migration.

50Syria’s UNDAF offers two interesting insights into how displacement can affect education. First, it stresses the consequences of outmigration, as the education system suffers from teachers having left their schools due to internal displacement or migration. In addition, nearly one in four schools have been destroyed, damaged or are being used as IDP shelters, showing that the effects of displacement can be more indirect.

51The multifaceted incorporation of mobility concerns in Lebanon’s and Morocco’s UNDAFs deserves special attention. As indicated in the above discussion on the wide-ranging inclusion of refugee indicators in Lebanon’s UNDAF results framework, Lebanon’s plan integrates mobility issues into policy dimensions such as peacebuilding and conflict prevention, rule of law and justice, social protection, healthcare, access to services, employment, education, and access to electricity.

  • 16 Interestingly, the UNDAF does not refer to SDG target 8.8, one of the indicators of which focuses o (...)

52Morocco’s UNDAF includes some of the most advanced mainstreaming language. Morocco is party to and an early advocate for the Migrant Worker Convention (Norman, 2020). As such, its UNDAF specifies that signing the convention, combined with the government’s recent actions to regularise and receive migrants, is meant to guarantee access to health services without discrimination. The plan states that the UNCT will work toward the integration of migrants and refugees into health policies, provide them with the same health care as nationals, and encourage research on migrants’ health outcomes. It adds that the UNCT will support Morocco’s National Employment Strategy and work toward equal access to employment, including for migrants and refugees, for whom it will also work toward creating economic activities. Migrants and refugees, it states, will be included in an integrated social protection system. It envisages safer working conditions and health outcomes for entrepreneurs and workers, explicitly including migrants,16 and proposes that living conditions and mobility within cities be improved, increased, and better adapted to the needs of citizens and migrants. It acknowledges the need for international protection for refugees who have not yet been processed, lack access to the formal labour market as a consequence, and are deemed to be in a situation of great precariousness. However, for the most part, Morocco’s UNDAF focuses explicitly on regular migrants. In addition, it flags the role of migrants and diasporas for the commercialisation and marketing of agricultural production and plans to support a strategy on agricultural value chains that seeks partnerships with migrants and, in particular, diaspora actors. Morocco’s UNDAF aims to establish a mechanism to recognise educational qualifications and guarantee access to education and vocational training for vulnerable populations, including immigrants, refugees and returnees, and decrease school dropout for migrant and refugee children.

53Among the development plans in the sample, Morocco’s UNDAF has the strongest focus on the mobility-climate change nexus. It emphasises that Morocco is exposed to significant climate change vulnerabilities, including desertification, the significance of which the plan highlights as a root cause of internal migration and immigration from sub-Saharan Africa. Consequently, the UNDAF anticipates transversally and systematically integrating climate change, energy, and migration into all territorial (local) development plans, establishing rules for an integrated management of environmental and migration data—disaggregated by gender—and creating a mechanism for green diaspora investments. Morocco’s UNDAF is the only plan in the sample to include positive diaspora contributions (for example by mobilising the competences of migrants and the diaspora).

5. Puzzles and Determinants: Explaining the Different Levels of Inclusion

54The comparison of the intensity, modalities, and dimensionalities of mobility inclusion in the 14 UNDAFs in the MENA region shows significant differences in the way these plans conceptualise government and UN activities in different areas. This section discusses what may explain them. While limitations in space do not allow for a full investigation of the determinants for including migration and displacement concerns in UNDAFs, this section offers a few insights, hypotheses, and puzzles that may be developed and explored more fully in the future.

  • 17 See Tables 3A3 and 3A4 available at https://journals.openedition.org/poldev/4548.
  • 18 Migrants account for 79 per cent of Bahrain’s workforce.
  • 19 See Table 3A3 available at https://journals.openedition.org/poldev/4548.

55An apolitical, technocratic hypothesis posits that the inclusion of mobility correlates with the scale of the phenomena: the greater the number of migrants, refugees and remittances, the more likely the UNDAF is to reference such phenomena. The data indicates that mobility realities such as the total number or percentage of immigrants, emigrants, refugees, or remittances are insufficient alone to explain differences between countries’ IMIs.17 Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran and Lebanon each host more than a million migrants and refugees – Saudi Arabia’s immigrant count alone is at more than 10 million. Persons born abroad also account for a large share of the total population in Bahrain (51 per cent),18 Jordan (41 per cent), Lebanon (34 per cent), Saudi Arabia (33 per cent) and Djibouti (13 per cent).19 But of these countries, only Lebanon has a UNDAF that includes migrants per se and only Morocco, which has fewer than 100,000 migrants and refugees and a low immigrant/population ratio of 0.3 per cent, has a UNDAF that features immigration prominently. An important caveat to this is the reliability of official migration data, which is generally derived from population censuses. For Morocco, Natter (2018, 7) states that ‘census data certainly underestimates Morocco’s total migrant population’, adding that for Tunisia, ‘census data does not capture the unprecedented immigration from Libya since 2011’. Although the official migration data is likely to be unreliable for most countries in the sample, the official figures—which are often estimates—enter policy processes. In addition, while the real numbers may vary from official statistics, in the case of Morocco, ‘even higher estimates of around 200,000 migrants do not challenge the overall conclusion that immigration remains a minor phenomenon’ (2018, 7).

56Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, Iran and Yemen each have emigrant and external refugee populations exceeding one million. Those born in the country who now live abroad correspond to 82 per cent of the resident population in Palestine, 35 per cent in Syria, 12 per cent in Lebanon, 9 per cent in Morocco, 8 per cent in Jordan, and 7 per cent in Tunisia. As discussed above, while Egypt’s, Jordan’s and Syria’s UNDAFs mention emigration as a threat, only Morocco’s plan includes emigrants. The lack of incorporation of emigration is even more striking when it comes to migrant remittances. Not only have remittances been described as a development mantra (Kapur, 2010) and feature prominently in publications by the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other major development organisations, they were also given a full target in the SDGs, namely target 10.c that aims to reduce the cost of transferring such funds (Naujoks, 2018). Such transfers correspond to more than 10 per cent of GDP in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Yemen, and the estimated cost for transferring remittances to these countries is above the highest threshold of 5 per cent of the remitted amount that is anchored in both SDG target 10.c and the G20’s remittance agenda. Costs are particularly high in Lebanon (12 per cent), Algeria (12 per cent), and Tunisia (9 per cent). With migrant workers sending more than USD 36 billion back to their families, in 2017 Saudi Arabia was the third-highest source of remittances. However, as highlighted above, Yemen is the only country to reference remittances in its development plan, while also not from an active policy perspective.

57Analysing national immigration policies, Natter (2018, 8) finds that ‘Tunisia has seen an important increase in immigration, but policies have remained stable. In contrast, Morocco set immigration on the political agenda and enacted fundamental policy changes despite only moderate growth in immigration’. For a similar reason, it is paramount to investigate the political and institutional factors that explain where and how mobility has been incorporated into the UN development plans.

  • 20 Jacobsen (1996, 660) establishes four categories of factors that affect refugee policies in the Glo (...)

58Based on the analysis of UNDAFs in the 14 sample countries, the analysis of hundreds of other UN Development Plans, and the interviews conducted, I conceptualise that four broad areas determine the inclusion of mobility concerns into UN development plans: (1) mobility realities; (2) international norms and discourses are filtered through; (3) national priorities; and (4) specific UN processes (Figure 3.2). National priorities are in turn affected by local and regional politics, including relations with significant donor and sending countries, national capacities, and the role that development cooperation and the UN play within a country.20 Norman (2020, 3) finds ‘paying close attention to the international influences driving domestic decision-making can help us better understand migration policy reform for host states situated between powerful countries to the north and geostrategically important sending countries to the south’. She observes that given international power hierarchies, certain ‘non-Western states … are embedded in a migration system in which more powerful states can exert influence over their domestic policy decisions’ (p.4). But priorities can also have purely domestic origins derived from the relevance of mobility and the political weight of diaspora or other populations, government and regime-related factors or global and regional aspirations. Based on an in-depth study of Egypt, Tsourapas (2019a, 206) shows that ‘[a]n authoritarian regime is more likely to develop policies that produce short-term political gains that enable ruling elites to remain in power. This implies that measures that may be economically beneficial in the long term, but involve heavy immediate political costs, are unlikely to be implemented’. Morocco’s decision to adopt an active migration policy is believed to be driven, in part, by a reorientation toward sub-Saharan countries (Cherti and Collyer, 2015, 602; Natter, 2018; Jacobs, 2019; Norman, 2020, 11). Geha and Talhouk (2019) show how Lebanon’s government stance toward UN activities relating to Syrian refugees changed from a laissez-faire approach to becoming a more active player in shaping crisis response policies and planned UN involvement.

59While international organisations need the consent of the host country for all activities they undertake, certain countries set strict limits on what international organisations can do. Such political barriers potentially restrict UN activities in relation to certain or all migrant populations, as my interviews indicate is the case in Iran, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Processes at the UN country team level are influenced by national priorities—as the official mission of the UNCT remains to support the national development agenda—but are also influenced by the composition of the UNCT, in particular the role played by the IOM, donor influence, and general factors that impact cooperation and UNCT activities, such as specific funds or guidance from the UN Development Group (now the UN Sustainable Development Group).

60Unfortunately, limitations in space do not allow for an in-depth analysis of the various factors here. Instead I will briefly discuss one factor and offer a few hypotheses in passing that need to be investigated in the future and that relate to international and UN-specific factors.

61From a policy learning and constructivist perspective, it can be argued that international discourses and norms on mobility influence the degree of mobility inclusion. Discussions at the UN, the annual GFMD (Rother, 2019), the global debates that led to the adoption of the GCR and GCM (Ferris and Martin, 2019), or regional and bilateral fora to discuss migration and displacement issues among governments and often international organisations, can lead to the creation of certain norms—either concrete rules and treaties or general expectations about government action (Finnemore and Sikkink, 1998; Weiss, 2011, Chapter 2). Gamlen (2014) points to a governmentality logic of global migration debates that render certain policies both empirically normal and normative, inducing other governments to mimic the initiatives of certain first-movers. FitzGerald and Cook-Martin (2014) have shown how political pressure and governments’ reputational aspirations led to domestic policy change with regard to racist immigration policies in the Americas.

Figure 3.2 Factors and filters influencing the inclusion of mobility into UNDAFs

Figure 3.2 Factors and filters influencing the inclusion of mobility into UNDAFs

Source: Author.

62In particular, it could be argued that UNDAFs drafted after the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugee and Migrants in September 2016 would be likely to include mobility in more robust ways. None of the UNDAFs in the low IMI category took effect before 2017, while half of those in the low and medium IMI bracket and all those in the high IMI category did so. However, the individual country data shows that several UNDAFs that started in 2018 show a significantly lower IMI than those adopted one or two years earlier, even though the drafting process of the former may have been affected by the debates on the GCM and the GCR, and the Global Migration Group (2017) Guidance Note on Integrating Migration and Displacement into UNDAFs. For this reason, the time of adoption seems to matter, but it does not fully explain the level of mobility inclusion. In addition, countries in the medium and high IMI bracket are considerably more likely to be part of a regional refugee or migrant response plan. This would be even more perceptible if Morocco (as an outlier UNDAF that focuses more on migration) were taken out of the average.

63Djibouti’s UNDAF explicitly references a promise given by the country’s president at the New York Summit on Refugees and Migrants in 2016 to integrate refugees in the education system. As a pilot country of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, Djibouti’s UNDAF refers to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants—the framework that was adopted as part of the outcome document of the New York Summit—and which in turn became an integral part of the Global Compact on Refugees that was adopted two years later.

  • 21 As the author served as research coordinator of this project, it bears mention that although the re (...)

64Morocco is a special case among the sample because of its strong participation in international processes. In 2017–18, Morocco—jointly with Germany—chaired the GFMD during the historic time of drafting both Global Compacts. Since 2014, Morocco has also participated in the UNDP-IOM joint programme on mainstreaming migration into development planning, which has engaged with various ministries and government agencies on the integration of mobility concerns into development strategies (Egger, 2017). Since 2016, Morocco has been a pilot country in the project to establish a dashboard for measuring policy coherence for migration and development that was led by the OECD and the UNDP under the auspices of the World Bank’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD).21

  • 22 This statement is based on data tables not included in this chapter.
  • 23 Gamlen (2014, S201) documents the influence of the IOM with regard to national diaspora policies an (...)

65The factors discussed are not exhaustive. Other possible explanations for variations in the degree of mobility inclusion include the fact that the IMI is low where mobility is highly securitised. Or it may be that a higher level of national capacities may lower the IMI—because of the subsidiary, supplementing role of UN engagement in national development processes—or increase it, as the absence of significant capacities to understand and explore mobility concerns may lead to a lack of priorities. This chapter has also not investigated the role of donor pressure, especially from the European Union (EU) and its member states. For example, Morocco received considerable budget allocations from the EU for signing the Mobility Partnership, which Norman (2020) links to the adoption of its progressive migration and asylum legislation. However, Tunisia also signed a Mobility Partnership the year before its UNDAF took effect and no such change and inclusion is noticeable. Jordan also entered into a specific partnership, yet still only figures in the medium IMI range. Higher dependency on development assistance or a higher emigrant stock in the EU appear to explain the IMIs of the countries in the sample.22 Another hypothesis assumes that the stronger the role of the IOM in the UNCT, the higher the IMI due to the IOM’s institutional lobbying and a stronger UNCT comparative advantage on migration.23 In addition, the analysis of the 14 UNDAFs suggests that refugee issues are more suited for inclusion into UNDAFs than economic migration issues. This could be a function of refugee issues being framed as an international responsibility (Aleinikoff and Zamore, 2019) that allows specific refugee rent-seeking behaviour (Tsourapas, 2019b) and enables governments to engage in bargaining processes over refugee protection (Betts, 2009). Lastly, beyond structural factors, it is possible that the role and positioning of certain policy entrepreneurs—be they institutions or persons, and at the national or the UN level—have a key influence on mobility-related aspects of UN Cooperation Frameworks.

6. Conclusion: UN Cooperation Frameworks as Objects of Analysis

66The analysis has shown that UNDAFs and the future UNSDCFs are a promising platform to study the intersection of national migration and mobility policies, regional and global norms, and the role of international organisations and development partners. These are individual country plans that follow the same global guidance, have comparable timeframes, contain similar elements, and thus offer a good basis for comparison. In contrast to national development plans, which come in a broad range of languages, all UNDAFs and Cooperation Frameworks are available in English, French, and Spanish, which allows for relative ease of analysis. However, these ‘Development Assistance Frameworks’ are not comprehensive development plans that encompass all aspects of a country’s policy and development environment. They are thus only partly an assessment of national mobility priorities and partly an expression of the role and capacity of the UN in the country. A caveat of studying any plan or strategy is that they do not reveal much about their implementation and impacts. And while since 1997 at least 135 countries have adopted one or more such plans, this does not include countries in the global North.

67Based on the IMI that measures the intensity, modality, and dimensionality of migration and displacement issues in development plans and policies, the UNDAFs in the MENA region reflect a broad range of different policy foci. The IMI is a multidimensional tool that helps to discern various aspects of mobility-related policies and programming. This chapter has used the IMI’s components to discuss and contrast the 14 UN plans in the region. The discussion on the various target groups and policy dimensions is of interest not only because it differentiates the different plans and provides a basis for further analysis of the determinants and political processes on migration and displacement. It is also of interest because it reflects policy learning on the link between human mobility and UN-led development activities. Thus, insights from national-level UN development plans can serve as a heuristic to studying the global governance of migration and displacement and the emergence of certain themes over time.

68Expanding Hollifield’s (2004) conceptualisations of the migration state, Adamson and Tsourapas (2019a) categorise state migration management regimes in the global South as nationalising, developmental or neoliberal, depending on whether the mobility is state-organised and forced, on whether a state’s infrastructure focuses on emigration and remittances, and on whether or not rights and access are sold as economic goods, for example through investor-citizenship programmes. The discussion of the UN Development Assistance Frameworks in the MENA region shows a greater variety of policy regimes and highlights where they interlink with international processes. This begs the question as to what extent and under what conditions these processes produce more rights and better outcomes for migrants and displaced persons. UN development plans also offer an opportunity to study interagency cooperation, that is: when, how, and on what issues do different UN programmes, agencies and funds work together on mobility issues (Naujoks, 2020). This is even more the case with the newly reformed UN Cooperation Frameworks that are meant to have a stronger focus on cross-border issues.

69Natter (2018, 5) observes that studies on immigration policies in the global South ‘often treat states as single, homogeneous entities without paying attention to the fragmentation of state interests, and ignore their decision-making autonomy in front of international actors’. The analysis of UNDAFs in the MENA region cannot be explained by clear international determinants and processes. The limited incorporation of mobility concerns into UNDAFs in the MENA region may be a sign of incomplete policy learning, a prioritisation of other issues, the politicisation of certain forms of human mobility, existing national capacities that do not require external support or institutional constellation in the UN country team. In all likelihood, there is not a single factor that can explain a policy focus on mobility in UN development plans, but a number of constellations that facilitate or hinder it. While this chapter’s exploration of the factors that lead to a stronger or weaker inclusion of mobility concerns is limited, I have offered several hypotheses that may be considered by future research.

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Notes

1 As an exception, Geha and Talhouk (2019) show how the relations between Lebanon’s government and UN actors working on Syrian refugee issues evolved and how domestic and international factors, as well as stances by the UN, affected the plans and activities.

2 In 2019, UNDAFs were renamed UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks (UNSDCFs or ‘Cooperation Frameworks’) but given the timeframe of the analysis, this article refers to UNDAFs. However, the research questions and methodologies developed here are equally applicable to the new Cooperation Frameworks.

3 The remaining countries in the MENA region, namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israel, Kuwait, Libya, Malta, Oman, and Qatar do not have an UNDAF and hence fall outside the scope of this analysis. Libya adopted the UN Strategic Framework for 2019-2020; however, this period is not yet comprehensively covered by the database underlying this analysis.

4 Annex to the chapter available at https://journals.openedition.org/poldev/4548, Table 3A1.

5 Annex to the chapter available at https://journals.openedition.org/poldev/4548, Table 3A2.

6 This is based on a general attribution of keywords rather than individual coding.

7 Obviously, there are reasons why even clearly formulated objectives may not lead to meaningful implementation.

8 Based on the SMART indicator methodology, the IMI defines indicators as meaningful when they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (UNDP, 2014, 41). Meaningful indicators have a clear migration focus (as opposed to mentioning migrants among a long list of potential target groups), and involve clear, achievable actions by the UN Country Team. For more details, see Table 3A2 available at https://journals.openedition.org/poldev/4548.

9 Only these broad groups of mobile populations are coded as groups, whereas a focus on different sub-groups, such as Lebanon’s focus on Syrian or Palestine refugees, would not be coded as two distinct groups for the IMI, though it is acknowledged that a more fine-grained understanding of sub-groups is an important feature of a plan.

10 Annex to the chapter available at https://journals.openedition.org/poldev/4548, Table 3A2.

11 For a discussion SDG target 8.8, see Naujoks (2018, 102-114).

12 The UNDAF also lists activities where not the UNCT per se, but specific agencies, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the OHCHR, work on migration issues.

13 When using migration-related keywords, the UNDAF is often referring to international movements, including refugee movements, or internal displacements.

14 Saudi Arabia’s UNDAF also includes a mention of stateless persons. However, as stateless persons in Saudi Arabia are mostly not connected to migration and refugee issues (van Waas, 2010), they were not counted as a specific mobile population.

15 Annex to the chapter available at https://journals.openedition.org/poldev/4548, Table 3A3.

16 Interestingly, the UNDAF does not refer to SDG target 8.8, one of the indicators of which focuses on working conditions and work-related deaths among migrants (Naujoks, 2018,102-107).

17 See Tables 3A3 and 3A4 available at https://journals.openedition.org/poldev/4548.

18 Migrants account for 79 per cent of Bahrain’s workforce.

19 See Table 3A3 available at https://journals.openedition.org/poldev/4548.

20 Jacobsen (1996, 660) establishes four categories of factors that affect refugee policies in the Global South, namely (1) bureaucratic choices made by the government ; (2) international relations; 3) the absorption capacity of the local host community; and 4) national security considerations.

21 As the author served as research coordinator of this project, it bears mention that although the report was launched in July 2020, the recommendations were shared and discussed with the government in 2018.

22 This statement is based on data tables not included in this chapter.

23 Gamlen (2014, S201) documents the influence of the IOM with regard to national diaspora policies and Micinski and Weiss (2016) explore the changes that came with the IOM becoming a UN-related organisation. For the role of the IOM in UNCTs and the relevance for its global positioning, see Bradley, 2020; Geiger and Pécoud, 2020; Lebon-McGregor (forthcoming).

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List of illustrations

Title Table 3.2 Components and aggregate for Index of Mobility Inclusion (IMI) for UNDAFs in the MENA region
Credits Sources: Author.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/poldev/docannexe/image/4795/img-1.png
File image/png, 114k
Title Figure 3.1 Index of Mobility Inclusion (IMI) for UNDAFs in the MENA region
Credits Sources: Author.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/poldev/docannexe/image/4795/img-2.png
File image/png, 144k
Title Figure 3.2 Factors and filters influencing the inclusion of mobility into UNDAFs
Credits Source: Author.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/poldev/docannexe/image/4795/img-3.png
File image/png, 201k
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Cite this article

Electronic reference

Daniel Naujoks, Multilateral Approaches to Mobility in the Middle East and North Africa RegionInternational Development Policy | Revue internationale de politique de développement [Online], 14 | 2022, Online since 25 avril 2022, connection on 25 juin 2022. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/poldev/4795; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/poldev.4795

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About the author

Daniel Naujoks

Daniel Naujoks is a Lecturer in International and Public Affairs and Interim Director of the International Organization and UN Studies programme at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He is author of Migration, Citizenship, and Development (2013, Oxford University Press) and his research focuses on global governance, migration, refugees, citizenship, multilateralism and global development. He regularly advises the United Nations and serves as chair of the International Studies Association’s Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Studies section.

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International Development Policy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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