Browse results

Torsten Feys

This article provides a business perspective of the role of transport companies in directing transatlantic refugees during the First World War. It details the financial, administrative and logistical barriers that stranded Americans faced at the outbreak of the war. It discusses how authorities, NGOs and especially shipping companies organised the transportation of approximately 150,000 people in a matter of weeks along the well-oiled business networks which transported millions of migrants across the Atlantic. This is compared with the attempts to transfer Belgian refugees across the Atlantic throughout the war. Shipping companies used, in part, strategies similar to those of NGOs to gain authority in directing refugees, yet they saw them as a business opportunity which also explains the differences. It highlights that the dynamics between refugees, authorities, NGOs and transport companies shape migration policies, and argues that those companies should be integrated much more into migration governance studies. The article concludes that transport companies’ expert and logistical know-how made them indispensable actors in implementing migration policies, even when their business interests were severely threatened by wartime mobility restrictions.

Tineke Strik

This article analyses the role of NGOs in the decision-making process of EU legislation on asylum and migration. It shows that during the first phase NGOs struggled to benefit from the Europeanisation of migration policy. The Commission and European Parliament were the most receptive to the lobbying activities of NGOs but they had only little influence themselves. NGOs faced many difficulties in being able to follow and influence the Council negotiations. As the institutional context of that time had made the Council extremely powerful, the final outcome of the ngo lobbying was close to zero. Their shift towards outsider tactics by using their moral authority did not mobilise the public either. The Europeanisation of asylum and migration nevertheless provides NGOs with additional avenues to use their expert and logistical authority. The current institutional context has strengthened their possibilities, though the political climate and the revival of intergovernmental methods constrain their success.

Marlou Schrover, Teuntje Vosters and Irial Glynn

Social and political scientists are involved in an extensive but inconclusive debate about the role of international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) in European migration governance. The European Union (EU) and NGOs work under the assumption that NGOs are crucial to migration governance and yet the role of NGOs is not clear. The EU has invested time and money in its attempts to involve NGOs more actively in migration governance, but it does so without much knowledge of how ngos in the past have influenced migration governance, and thus with no idea if the current investments are worthwhile. In this article, which is the introduction to the special issue on this subject, we take a closer look at the NGOs involved in West European migration in the period from the 1860s until the present day in order to understand the changing role of NGOs in migration governance in Europe. Providing moral, logistical and expert authority in a purportedly impartial way, NGOs have added a dimension to migration governance that states cannot replicate. As a result, the number of NGOs has gradually increased and at times their influence has become significant. However, in providing a chronology of the involvement of NGOs in migration governance, we show that their influence on migration governance policies and practices has not been linear. During some windows of opportunity (e.g. in the immediate years following the First and Second World Wars and the Cold War), NGOs became more prominent and effective, while at other times (e.g. the 1930s), their importance waned. The presence and capacity of NGOs to contribute to migration governance depended on whether states, and increasingly after 1945, intergovernmental organisations such as the UN, needed them to further their own interests or to fulfil a role that they could not play.

Davide Gnes and Floris Vermeulen

In the analysis of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), legitimacy and legitimation are useful concepts because they bring to light the processes through which organisational entities justify their right to exist and their actions within a particular normative context. Theories of legitimacy underscore the moral basis of organisational power as grounded in the relationship between organisations and different kinds of audiences. In this article, we look at how those concepts and theories relate to the study of NGOs. Those theories not only help us understand how organisations establish themselves, strengthen their position and survive over time despite very limited material resources of their own, but also how organisations may build political power. In our review of the literature on organisational legitimacy, we focus on three main aspects of legitimacy: the conceptualisation of the term in organisational sociology, political sociology and political science; the constraining role of institutionalised normative contexts and competing audiences in the legitimation processes; the agentic role of organisations within both institutional and strategic contexts.

Frank Caestecker

This article outlines how a refugee policy took shape in the liberal countries bordering Nazi Germany during the first half of the 1930s. In Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and Switzerland, immigration policy had become much more restrictive by 1933 when the refugees from Germany applied for asylum and the necessity for a ‘side entrance’ for asylum seekers to these countries became apparent. The focus here is on the role of the Communist aid organisation, the Red Aid, in this endeavour. In comparison to the social-democratic aid organisations, the Red Aid was deficient, but most importantly it was an outsider to the political regime, while the Social-Democrats were part of the political regime. Still the authorities in all countries conceded by 1935 that German Communist refugees were more deserving than other unwanted immigrants who were expelled without much ado. This article argues that the campaigns of the Red Aid in the rather limited liberalisation of policy towards Communist refugees by 1935 did have some effect since their denouncement of the inhumane treatment of Communist refugees led these liberal polities to restrain themselves in their treatment of these most ‘undeserving’ of refugees.

Dimitris Parsanoglou and Yannis Papadopoulos

The Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (icem) was founded in 1952 to manage the migration of migrants and refugees of European origin to overseas countries. Its foundation was part of the effort during the Post-war period to find supranational solutions to global problems and can be considered as the first to achieve ‘migration management’. icem was also part of the US propaganda mechanism during the Cold War aiming at proving the superiority of the ‘Free World’ to allocate human resources and streamlining the movement of refugees from Eastern Europe. To achieve this task icem collaborated closely with international organisations such as the ilo. At the same time, since its foundation it outsourced the process from registration to placement of immigrants and refugees to a series of national, international or religious voluntary organisations. The article tries to assess the process and the results of this collaboration during the first decade of icem’s operation.

Pär Frohnert

NGOs were established in Sweden to help refugees from Nazi Germany. The government, dominated by Social Democrats, pursued a restrictive refugee policy and refugees were dependent on NGOs for support. The Labour Movement Refugee Relief, founded by the Social Democrats and the Trade Unions, used insider tactics and had strong expert and logistical authority. The Communist Red Aid pursued outsider tactics and relentlessly criticised the government. The Subscription for Exiled Intellectuals was an independent organisation that was critical of the official policy and yet had government ties. Important conclusions are that NGOs contributed to shape legislation and succeeded in securing state subsidies from 1939, but were unable to stop the increased restrictiveness from 1938 caused by the international refugee crisis. From 1943 onwards, many more refugees arrived and the state took financial responsibility. NGOs lost their crucial role. In general, the NGOs show very different characteristics due to their specific preconditions.

Peter Gatrell

This article addresses the role played by Western non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in managing migration, with particular regard to refugees and refugee policy in the modern era. A commitment to the support and welfare of refugees has been a core component of the activity of many NGOs since the late nineteenth century. But this humanitarian purpose cannot be divorced from the prevailing refugee regime. The state acted as gatekeeper, determining who was recognised and protected as a refugee. The issue of funding available to NGOs is also closely linked to state-driven priorities. Nevertheless, NGOs are significant humanitarian actors in their own right. This article considers the proliferation of NGOs and their activities in the broad field of refugee relief. A focus on the evolution, rationale and differentiation of NGOs suggests that we can usefully think of them as enterprises of a distinct kind. Although they are not driven by profit motives, this article suggests that NGOs do have a business strategy in which their efficacy, innovation and accountability to donors are important considerations. It concludes by reaffirming the fundamental point that only in exceptional circumstances were NGOs seeking to assist refugees able to escape the fundamental constraints imposed by the state.

Deportations, the Spreading of Dissent and the Development of Democracy

The Confino on Ponza and Ventotene during Italian Fascism and its Political Aftermath

Francesca Falk

Instead of preventing protest, deportations on political grounds could – under certain circumstances – help to spread dissent. Accordingly, the spaces deportees were sent became fertile ground for new coalitions. Analysing such spaces furthers our understanding of how resistance may be contained, dispersed and re-constituted. The main part of this article focuses on deportations to the Pontine Islands of Ponza and Ventotene under Italian Fascism. Under such conditions, new political ideas were elaborated. The genesis of the Ventotene Manifesto will be considered as a starting point for a genealogy that opens up alternative trajectories of development for another European Union and, indeed, for today’s understanding of democracy. If, today, Europe closes its borders, it destroys the idea behind such a vision of unification. Therefore, it is urgently necessary not only to recall the genesis of this manifesto, but also the authors’ experience of being refugees.

Juha Meriläinen

From its establishment in 1892 until the 1920s the largest Finnish ethnic church in the United States, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, better known as the Suomi Synod, was among the staunchest defenders of Finnish language and culture. The synod built a network of Sunday and summer schools, coordinated by the Michigan-based Suomi College, that not only offered religious instruction but also spread the Finnish language and national romantic ideals to immigrant children. Tightening immigration laws and increasing demands for national unity in the 1920s led many immigrant institutions, including the ethnic Lutheran churches, to Americanisation. A debate concerning a language reform also started in the Suomi Synod, but was rejected by the nationalistic-minded wing. Adherence to the Finnish language alienated the younger generation and led to a drastic but temporary decline in the church’s membership.