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Local human rights policies and questions of migration

Michele Grigolo
Nottingham Trent University
Michele Grigolo
Nottingham Trent University
Open Panel

Abstract

In the area of immigration, cities have followed approaches and enacted policies that the existing literature has only partly captured. Within an urban regime framework of analysis, this paper explores how local governments have used human rights to deal with racial, ethnic and other types of diversities but also discriminations. In particular, the paper addresses the questions of what human rights are defined by cities, what institutions are tasked with implementation and what results are produced which are relevant for migrants. The case of Barcelona, a city of by now ‘relatively new’ immigration, is considered. The focus is on two local services engaged respectively in the fight against discrimination and the promotion of religious freedom. These agencies and their actions are analyzed from two perspectives: on the one hand, the supra-local legal and political framework within which the agencies operate; and, on the other, the impact of city initiatives that either integrate or at least potentially conflict with the human rights mandate pursued by the two agencies, including the local economic and security agendas. The paper shows that local human rights policies produce mixed results in relation to migrants and suggests wider reflections on how local responses to migration interact with context in the widest sense.