“Return” stands high in the hierarchy of priorities that have been identified in the current top-down management of international migration. However, this is not because return is viewed as a stage in the migration cycle. It is because return has been narrowly defined in the lexicon of governmental and intergovernmental agencies as the act of leaving the territory of a destination country.
This understanding of return is of course reflective of the normative construct that the migration management agenda has consolidated, for it not only reinforces the centrality of the state, but also rationalises its security-oriented methods and means of implementation. In most countries of migration, return is not viewed as a process. Nor does it take into consideration migrants’ post-return conditions, let alone their human and financial potential for development. Moreover, the issue of reintegration has become glaringly marginal, if not non-existent, in the mechanisms that have been implemented so far by state agencies in countries of migration.
It is astonishing to observe the hegemony that this narrow approach to return has achieved over the last decade, despite the existence of a huge literature and academic debates which demonstrated, as early as the 1970s and 1980s, how return migrants constitute a highly heterogeneous group of actors in terms of migration experiences, length of stay abroad, patterns of resource mobilisation, motivations, projects, and capacity to reintegrate.
Research carried out in the framework of the RDP capitalises on this academic literature, across various disciplines. More precisely, it sets out to identify the manifold factors shaping return migrants’ patterns of reintegration, whether temporary or permanent, by emphasising their own aspirations and personal goals.
This approach, based on field surveys, is essential to understand why some return migrants succeed in reintegrating in their countries of origin, whereas others do not. It is also key to addressing the need for more policy responsiveness to return migrants’ rights.
Finally, the large dissemination of the research outcomes (studies and reports, field data) is expected to promote open and constructive debates on return migrants’ aspirations as well as on their capacity to contribute to development. Join the platform !