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Migrant workers, Illegal migration, Illegal markets, Global marketplace, Globalization, International criminal law


International Law


This Paper tries to show the effects of a central challenge of contemporary global governance: the "interaction between normative orders that are fundamentally different in their underlying conceptual structure." The argument is that the dynamics of globalization create and accentuate particular social phenomena as well as efforts towards coordinated regulation of these phenomena, but that the latter are far from sufficient to meet the former. A further assertion is that global relations and distributions of power determine the operation of this fragmented framework. Social vulnerability is reflected in and reinforced by it. As such, the undocumented migrant worker challenges, in many senses of the term, the margins of global governance and international law: the boundaries reflected in sovereign territoriality which continue to undergird international law, and to represent the limits of its permissible jurisdiction, and yet which are challenged by the aspiration towards globalization embodied physically in the person of the undocumented migrant worker.

In this sense, the undocumented migrant both fulfills and transgresses the global order. This Paper represents a series of meditations on this theme. Parts I and II indicate the broader reaches of this analysis, discussing "illegal markets" in the global order more generally and clarifying theoretical and methodological commitments. Parts III and IV examine in more detail the figure of the undocumented migrant worker at both the international and national plane. Parts V and VI "cash out" both the material and discursive effects of the current approaches to irregular migration.

Publication Citation

Published in: Maryland Journal of International Law, Vol. 25, No. 1 (2010).