Khalid Koser, Geneva Centre for Security Policy GCSP

Khalid Koser, Geneva Centre for Security Policy GCSP

Khalid Koser, Academic Dean and Head of the New Issues in Security ProgrammeGeneva Centre for Security Policy GCSP.

International migration is determined by political, economic and demographic changes. In the future also by environmental factors. Migration is increasingly complex and presents significant challenges in both national and international perspective. Migration expert Khalid Koser, also speaker on 22nd International Europe Forum Lucerne in April 2012, indicates the following points.

Europe Forum Lucerne: What are the aspects of the global migration flows in future?

Khalid Koser: An important aspect is unpredictability. While most experts agree that there will be a significant increase in international migration during the 21st Century, it is hard to predict numbers. In particular there are question marks over the impact of the effects of climate change on migration – we are not sure how many people will be affected, how soon, where they will come from, or where they will go. Besides climate change, the other important driver for migration in the future will be disparities in development, demographic growth, and democracy.

«There is a lack of objective debate about the pros and cons of migration.»
Khalid Koser, Geneva Centre for Security Policy GCSP

What are the challenges of immigration countries they cope with?

The impact of migration on destination countries depends on variables such as the number of migrants and their background and skills, as well as the character of the destination country including the strength of its economy and whether it has a tradition of immigration. The evidence is that on balance the impact of migration on the labour market is neutral or positive. While the impact on society and culture is harder to measure, some people celebrate diversity, while other people find it frightening. One of my main concerns in Switzerland and Europe more generally at the moment is that there is a lack of objective debate about the pros and cons of migration.

In particular, the large number of refugees is a major challenge. What are the criteria for choosing a country of asylum?

In fact most refugees in the world are in poorer countries not rich countries like Switzerland. In more developed countries, the main challenge is that a significant proportion of people who apply for asylum are not actually refugees, and it can be time-consuming and expensive to distinguish refugees from others. But this is an important process to get right as refugees are entitled to protection and assistance under international law. It is not clear how asylum seekers choose their destination country. Sometimes they do not have a choice and are taken there by smugglers or traffickers. Sometimes they are very well-informed, for example where they have friends or family members in a particular country. Most of the time their main concern is to go somewhere that is safe and decent.

«International migration is by definition a transnational issue, and no single country can manage or control a transnational issue on a unilateral basis.»

You plead in your publications on international cooperation on migration issues. What are the most effective and why?

International migration is by definition a transnational issue, and no single country can manage or control a transnational issue on a unilateral basis. Even the United States, currently the world’s superpower, has many millions of undocumented migrants and cannot control its border with Mexico. There is no single UN agency with responsibility for migration, and some people argue that there should be, but in reality this is unlikely. The most realistic option is to encourage greater coordination between UN agencies and other agencies involved in migration, and at the same time to encourage more dialogue between states on migration.

Dr. Khalid Koser
is Academic Dean and Head of the New Issues in Security Programme, Geneva Centre for Security Policy GCSP. He is also Non-Resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., Research Associate at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Non-resident Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, Australia, and Associate Fellow of the Global Health Security Programme at Chatham House. He has field experience in Afghanistan, the Balkans, the Horn of Africa, Southern Africa, and Western Europe.

Europa Forum Luzern
Immigration issue
The next Europa Forum Luzern is dedicated to this important topic on April 23-24, 2012 in Lucerne. High-level national and international experts from industry, academia and politics discuss economic needs and political boundaries.
Symposium on Tuesday April 24, 2012 (9am to 6pm) in Lucerne,
Entry CHF/€ 350.00 incl. Documentation, Meals and simultaneous Translation
Public meeting Monday April 23, 2012 from 5.45pm to 8pm 
in Lucerne (free admission – registration is required)
For more information and registration:

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