The geopolitics of knowledge production in international migration law (2021)

This chapter addresses the involvement of academic research on international migration law in the political project of the global North to impose its view concerning international migration law on the global South. The purportedly well-established principle of international law that states have the right exclude foreigners has its origins in the US Supreme Court’s Chinese Exclusion case law. The doctrine holding that the right of exclusion is inherent in state sovereignty developed there has been adopted and transformed by the European Court of Human Rights. In order to show the continuing relevance of the Chinese Exclusion doctrine, I will analyse a rather everyday judgment of the European Court about boat people (J.R. et autres v Grèce 2018).  This will be contrasted with a judgment about boat people from the global South, issued by the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Supreme Court of Justice (Namah v Pato 2016). I will then show how the PNG judgment, and law from the global South more generally, is sidelined in academic work, while Strasbourg judgments are treated as embodying the state of international law (even when they are being criticised). I will analyse this as an act of power erasing sources of international migration law from the global South. As an example, I include bibliometrics on the International Journal of Refugee Law. I will close by showing that this erasure can be, and actually is being resisted within the discipline of international law.