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Advancing Alternative Migration Governance

Measuring Good Migration Governance with an Indicator Approach

The final goal of the AdMiGov project was to develop indicators of good migration governance, taking normative criteria of the United Nations in to account. AdMiGov indicators represent an innovative and evidence-based tool to measure and assess good migration governance. Their origin takes root in the call for safer, sustainable, and more effective migration governance shaped in the 2016 New York Declaration, the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and the Global Compact on Refugees, along with Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The novelty of AdMiGov indicators is twofold. Firstly, it makes international standards – and particularly the principles of migrant protection and sustainable development – the core benchmark against which national migration governance systems are evaluated. Secondly, it moves beyond a traditional focus on policies on paper, to also evaluate also migration governance in practice.

The AdMiGov indicators were built upon existing knowledge in the field of migration policy indicators (e.g., MGI, MIPEX), on the one hand, and basing on empirical insights from the AdMiGov fieldwork, on the other.

Indicator construction followed a holistic approach to migration governance, examining its main areas (entry, exit, temporary and circular mobility), elements (actions, actors, relations, and resources) and stages (formulation, promulgation, implementation and evaluation).

The result is a set of 68 indicators that can be applied to evaluate national migration governance systems, allowing its users to assess a country’s alignment with international standards on protection and sustainable development, to identify areas in need of development and to identify potential best practices.

Between February and October 2022, researchers from Maastricht University and CIDOB piloted the AdMiGov indicators in the NetherlandsSpain, and Turkeyand were able to offer a preliminary and exploratory evaluation of migration governance in the three countries, as per 31st of October 2022.

The main result of the first application of the AdMiGov indicators is the stark difference between governance on paper compared to governance in practice. Examining the overall performance of each country in terms of promulgation (on paper) and implementation (in practice) already reveals this gap.

This is confirmed by specific indicators measuring normative and implementation gaps, namely whether a standard of good migration governance is met on paper and in practice, respectively.

In the Netherlands the findings reveal a relatively strong normative basis on paper with some areas well integrated in practice (high-range scores) alongside implementation gaps (mid-range scores). In Turkey we identify a larger number of both normative (low-range scores) and implementation gaps (mid-range scores), while in Spain we see a mixed picture of governance existing on paper but not being systematically implemented (mid-range scores) alongside normative gaps (low-range scores).

Another crucial challenge regards the lack of an evidence-based approach to migration governance. The AdMiGov indicators show that the states analysed seem unable to adequately know the efficacy of their actions and the extent to which pre-established objectives are achieved. This seems related, among other factors, to their scarce commitment to data collection (and transparency) and to the inadequacy of their monitoring and control mechanisms. The use of evidence to support policy making is key to ensuring good migration governance. Improving evaluation systems can diagnose problems and allow remedial action to be taken.

The AdMiGov indicators have also highlighted the need for stakeholder consultation. In all the cases examined, migration governance seems to be conceived and issued without considering the perspective of the population that it targets. Broadening stakeholders’ participation in the decision-making process, particularly of those more concerned for migrants’ rights and protection, appears as another indispensable condition to move towards more secure and sustainable migration governance.

The governance gaps and limitations identified by the AdMiGov indicators jeopardize the whole functioning of migration governance of the countries analysed, calling into question their actual capacity to ensure migrants’ protection, and raising serious concerns in terms effectiveness, legitimacy, and accountability. The Netherlands, Spain and Turkey are encouraged to further explore the detailed results of the AdMiGov project and to take remedial action to enhance their migration governance systems in the future.

Given the methodological limits inherent to the pilot-study, the findings gathered primarily aimed at illustrating the scope and possible uses of AdMiGov indicators as diagnostic tool of good migration governance. It is the first step of an ongoing process that, hopefully, can be continued in the future with the refinement of the current set of indicators and their application in larger samples of countries.

For more information on the indicator approach, read the full and detailed report here, or read the policy brief. You can also write to the authors Francesco Pasetti (fpasetti@ and Elaine Lebon-McGregor (e.mcgregor@