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A global social contract: New steps towards a rights-based approach to migration governance?

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With his determination to combine his academic work with policy advocacy in the ‘international organizations’ sphere, Bob Deacon was a valued member of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) network of collaborating researchers over nearly two decades. In 2000, he participated in the very first meeting Thandika Mkandawire convened to conceptualize the programme on Social Policy in a Development Context. In the following years, he attended many UNRISD events and published with us. Bob’s work on global and regional social policy was an important complement to UNRISD’s more frequent focus on the national level.

Synergies were evident in another area as well. UNRISD has conducted several research projects linking migration and social policy, highlighting the challenge of protecting migrants in contexts where local populations have only limited access to public social protection schemes and social services and where most people work in the informal economy, the typical situation in the case of South-South migration. Another UNRISD inquiry asked how to improve migration policies and migration governance in regional contexts, and what role regional governance mechanisms could play in the absence of a coordinated global system of labour migration. It was in this context I collaborated with Bob Deacon, as he joined our project (Deacon, 2013), and I joined his project on regional governance, migration, and social protection in Africa and Europe he led as UNESCO-UNU Chair in Regional Integration, Migration and Free Movement of People at UNU-CRIS in Bruges, Belgium (Deacon et al., 2013).