Circular Migration: A triple Win or a Dead End

Does circular migration bring benefits? Is there evidence to support that it is preferred by migrants? This discussion paper examines the reasons behind the upsurge of interest in circular migration as well as benefits and improvements proposed to such models.

About this study:

In recent years circular migration has been promoted in international circles as a solution to many intractable and persistent problems of international migration. It has been projected as being at “the cutting edge of migration and development”. At the same time, an important missing link in these debates has been the implications of circular migration for rights of migrant workers. Workers’ organizations concerned with protecting migrant workers in line with international instruments have identified a number of problems with the concept of circular migration.

This paper attempts to address issues relating to the conceptual basis of circular migration and its wider implications for migrant rights and protection, in particular those relating to low skilled workers. The paper first deals with issues of definitions, and reviews the ‘triple wins argument. This is followed by a review of some temporary and circular migration programmes and their features. Approaches of international agencies, including the International Labour Organization and the global trade union movement, to the issue of circular migration are discussed next. The final Section sums up the findings and highlights of the review.

This study is available in English only.

Author: Piyasiri Wickramasekara, former Senior Migration Specialist in the ILO’s International Migration Programme (MIGRANT), Geneva

Editor: Andreas Bodemer

Publication Date:
Thu 28 Apr 2011
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