Against the backdrop of the growing leverage that MENA states have been acquiring vis-à-vis Europe on the issue of migration and border controls over the last decade, this paper identifies a number of trends in the responses of MENA states on these issues. By providing examples from the western Mediterranean, especially North African countries, it focuses on two interrelated aspects: First, it highlights the tendency to “localize” international norms and practices in the realm of migration management, that is, to adapt and modify these norms according to domestic preferences and conditions. Second, we discuss the ever-growing trend to criminalize migration and the ever-diminishing attention paid to human rights. The paper concludes by pointing to the growing embeddedness of the region in the international governance of migration, but with a twist: MENA governments are “embedded” in the broader trend of criminalizing migration and reinforcing state control, to the general detriment of human rights standards.
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