Regional Governance of Migration in the Southern African Development Community: Migration Regimes and Their Implications for the Experience of Refugees and Migrants in South Africa



South Africa’s migration policy has evolved over time to become increasingly restrictive, and the latest proposed legislation reflects this trend, which closely traces a global increase in restrictions on movement. The first half of this article briefly traces the history of intraregional migration in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in order to lay the groundwork for a longer and more detailed analysis of the existing migration regime in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) because they offer a clear contrast—ECOWAS has embraced and institutionalized freedom of movement, whereas SADC states have imposed very severe restrictions on transnational mobility. The second half of the article links these findings to the experience of migrants and refugees living in Johannesburg. Here it is shown that foreigners face systematic violence, exclusion, and exploitation. Hostility toward foreign nationals on the part of the South African government at least partially explains both the absence of regional governance of migration and the failure to protect or provide for foreign nationals in the country.


Migration regimes Refugees Refugee rights Xenophobia SADC South Africa 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Durban University of Technology, Urban Futures CentreDurbanSouth Africa
  2. 2.Brenthurst FoundationJohannesburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.Goethe UniversityFrankfurtGermany

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