Cooperation between government and civil society in the management of migration: Trends, opportunities and challenges in Europe and North America

Published 10 September 2018 / By Sarah Spencer, Nicola Delvino

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Across Europe and North America, government at all levels is cooperating with civil society organisations in the management of migration and in the resettlement and integration of refugees and migrants. This paper explores some of the issues that are raised by these relationships and are addressed in the academic and policy literature. While cooperation between government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) per se has long been the focus of scholarship, cooperation in the migration field is far less well explored. Yet, notwithstanding significant variation in the extent and forms of cooperation, governments rely on NGOs to fulfil a range of functions in the implementation of migration, resettlement and integration policies and to a certain extent in the policy development process. Collaboration, moreover, can bring significant challenges: working relationships can be harmonious and long standing, but can equally be fragile and carry economic and political costs for both parties.

This paper addresses what we know of recent trends in relation to cooperation in the migration field; the tiers of government where it is found and the dimensions of migration that it addresses; setting that in the context of what is known more broadly of recent trends in government-civil society relationships. It explores what motivates governments and civil society to work together, the forms of cooperation, and the challenges that arise in their working relationships.

This background paper was produced for the Autumn Academy 2018.


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