Migration Diplomacy in the Eastern Mediterranean - Inter-State Politics of Population Mobility in the Middle East (April 2017 - March 2018)

CBRLResearcher: Dr Gerasimos Tsourapas
Funding: Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL)


This yearlong project investigates how migratory flows across national borders have affected states' diplomatic interaction. It focuses on the politics of Jordan's management of cross-border population mobility in its international relations on three levels: as a sending state (regarding emigrants in the Arab oil-producing states); as a transit state (regulating Egyptian migrants' transit to the Gulf); and as a host state (regarding its Palestinian population).


With a rise in the number of migrants in the world to 244 million in 2015, including over 21 million refugees fleeing war and persecution, the "global migration crisis" has been dominating headlines. Much of the focus has been on the humanitarian and domestic political consequences of cross-border movements; what has received less attention are other ways in which population mobility is impacting the conduct of politics. In the Middle East, population flows across the region have produced a complex set of political responses that has yet to be fully understood by the relevant international relations literature on the Middle East. One unexplored aspect is migration diplomacy, or states' management of cross-border population mobility in order to gain aims in international relations through their position as sending, transit, or host states (Adamson & Tsourapas, forthcoming).

Research Objectives

This pilot study aims to focus on the single-case study of Jordan, given its historic centrality in regulating emigration, immigration and transit migration flows in the region. The study aims to enrich the political science and migration studies literature on the politics of population mobility by investigating three research questions:

  1. What were the dynamics that led Jordan to develop and implement its migration diplomacy in its bilateral and multilateral relations in the pre-2011 period?
  2. What are the strategies that Jordan adopted with regard to its migration diplomacy policy framework?
  3. Under what conditions was Jordan able to simultaneously act as a sending, transit, and host state in its migration diplomacy strategy under the same time period?