Center for Global Studies

CGS Policy Briefing on the role of “Diasporas in Global Politics”

On June 15, 2010 a group of policymakers and think tank specialists from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, USAID, Center for Global Development, International Organization for Migration, Department of State and the White House’s National Security Council gathered at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC for a briefing on the policy dimensions of the Center’s Global Migration and Transnational Politics (GMTP) project. All agreed that diasporas play a crucial role as intermediaries to their homelands and recognized the need to mainstream diasporas as key political actors in transnational outreach strategies and policies. The quandary of how to identify, integrate and institutionalize diasporas in foreign policy and development processes became the focus of the discussion that followed the briefing.

Policymakers emphasized the utility of case studies such as those provided by GMTP, and affirmed their commitment to developing a wide range of initiatives focused on the role of diasporas in their respective sectors. A recurrent theme in the discussion was the problem associated with the internal diversity of diaspora communities and the fact that they can rarely, if ever, be safely regarded as representative of their homeland societies. The relationship to homelands and the political positions advanced by diaspora groups are influenced by a range of factors including reasons for emigration (e.g. migrant labor vs. fleeing homeland conflicts), timeframe of departure, the region of origin, country of residence and destination (and its policies on immigration and asylum), as well as the likelihood of eventual return. If the policy process can be made sensitive to these differences between and within diasporas at the outset, new approaches to diaspora networks and policies can have positive dividends for governance and allow diasporas to have a more effective role in development and foreign investment.


Download PDF file of the policy brief 'Diasporas in Global Politics.'