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Border Governance and Its Complications in West Africa: What Can Be Learned from Constructivism?

Abstract

Neither the ECOWAS Common approach nor single-country unilateralism offers consistent and dependable systems for effective migration governance in West Africa. Both approaches derive from neo-realist and neo-liberal frameworks and produce incoherent, contradictory, and conflicting migration systems which adversely affect the quality of transborder mobility, governance, and security. Using the case of Nigeria and the Republic of Benin, this article applies social constructivism to argue for a third approach to migration governance: one in which neighboring or bordering states implement flexible, coherent, and hybrid migration systems based on the specificities of their cultural, political, and economic needs, while adapting to the common regional approach and foregoing their distinct unilateralism. The constructivism-based approach focuses on four dimensions underpinning exclusively flexible and mutually acceptable migration standards: (i) joint transborder security and policing, (ii) joint rehabilitation of dilapidated and porous transboundary areas, (iii) bilateral harmonization of immigration laws and policies, and (iv) protection of immigrants’ social rights.

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Iwuoha, V.C., Mbaegbu, C.C. Border Governance and Its Complications in West Africa: What Can Be Learned from Constructivism?. Soc 58, 269–281 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12115-021-00622-7

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Keywords

  • Migration governance
  • Social constructivism
  • ECOWAS
  • West Africa
  • Nigeria and the Republic of Benin