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The Role of Departure States in Combating Irregular Emigration in International Law: An Historical Perspective

Wolman, A. (2019). The Role of Departure States in Combating Irregular Emigration in International Law: An Historical Perspective. International Journal of Refugee Law, 31(1), pp. 30-54. doi: 10.1093/ijrl/eez012


This paper examines the evolution over time of attempts to establish an international law principle that states have a legal responsibility, at least under certain circumstances, to combat irregular emigration, defined as the exit of individuals who would be arriving at their destination in a manner that is not compliant with the destination country’s immigration laws. Through examination of contemporaneous statements and travaux préparatoires during six separate negotiating episodes, I shed light on attempts to develop such a norm since the beginning of the twentieth century, along with the evolving set of legal and ethical justification that were used in the process. I also examine the different practical and principled objections that other states and civil society actors employed to oppose the development of such a legal norm. I conclude by arguing that this historic research challenges current perceptions that home state controls are of recent origin, and that international migration law is inherently progressive.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article published in International Journal of Refugee Law following peer review. The version of record is available online at:
Subjects: J Political Science > JX International law
K Law > KZ Law of Nations
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
The City Law School > International Law and Affairs Group
SWORD Depositor:
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