ABSTRACT

Although the importance of migration in international relations is generally recognized, there is currently no single overarching regime governing migration at the global level as there is with respect to refugees or trade. While a range of different international legal provisions regulate certain aspects of migration, these disparate elements are not unifi ed in a single structure.2 Attempts to develop new international legal instruments for international migration have been met with great opposition by states. The history of the 1990 United Nations (UN) Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the most comprehensive migration instrument, is instructive in this regard. It took ten years for states to negotiate the Convention and more than another ten to secure the necessary ratifi cations for it to enter into force; as of today no major destination country for migrants is party to it. This experience underscores the priority given by governments around the world, and most particularly major industrialized destination countries, to retaining sovereign powers over international migration.