Measuring ‘Well-Governed’ Migration: The IOM’s Migration Governance Indicators

The International Organization for Migration: The New ‘UN Migration Agency’ in Critical Perspective

Edited by Martin Geiger and Antoine Pécoud

Palgrave Macmillan, International Political Economy Series

This chapter examines how the International Organization for Migration (IOM) intervenes in global migration governance through the production of knowledge and the deployment of technical expertise. It analyses the IOM’s Migration Governance Indicators, a migration governance benchmarking metric created to define well-governed migration, evaluate institutional capacity to manage migration and monitor state progress towards the implementation of the migration-related targets contained in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

It argues that the Migration Governance Indicators translate the meaning of well-governed migration into material form and make it possible for the IOM to govern at a distance by issuing symbolic judgements regarding states’ institutional capacity to manage migration. While the IOM describes itself as a non-normative organisation acting in the service of states, the Migration Governance Indicators serve a social and political purpose.

Far from being politically impartial, the Migration Governance Indicators empower the IOM by consolidating its expert authority, enrolling various actors into the agenda of well-governed migration and legitimising its newfound institutional identity as the UN migration agency.

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