This module is a resource for lecturers


Building on Modules 1-4, Module 5 sets out the broader context of smuggling of migrants and directs students to progressively and critically understand, assess and explain common issues associated with the phenomenon. It discusses some key concepts which inform an understanding of the other modules in this University Module series.

It is proposed that the lecturer commences by talking about the contemporary migration crisis (either contextualized or by way of a general overview), the realities of smuggling of migrants and migration trends. The lecturer should discuss the root causes of smuggling of migrants and irregular migration more broadly. The factors considered should include gender, membership of a social, religious or political group, ethnicity and race, as well as situations of existing or past political or social conflict and economic crisis (see also Module 13). These factors should be analysed in the context of the lack of legal avenues for migration. The discussion of causes should ideally focus on cases or realities particularly relevant to the country where the course is taught (bearing in mind whether it is a country of origin, transit and/or destination). The vulnerabilities of migrants to the dangers of the smuggling process should also be discussed.

Against this background, it is important to elaborate on, and differentiate between, several relevant concepts (including, for example, irregular migration, refugees and asylum seekers). The economic (profitable) nature of smuggling of migrants should be emphasized. The role played by organized criminal groups in satisfying - often at the cost of individuals' lives, safety and physical integrity - the demand for migrant smuggling should also be stressed.

The debate concerning humanitarianism and migrant smuggling should be explained to highlight the complexities inherent in addressing migrant smuggling, and irregular migration more broadly. This discussion builds on some of the material covered in Modules 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Learning outcomes

  • Place smuggling of migrants in the overall context of migration and its drivers
  • Recognize the challenges posed by mixed migration flows
  • Understand the role of organized criminal groups in the smuggling process and the social and political dynamics thereof
  • Explore the relationship between humanitarianism, security, human rights and migrant smuggling
  • Discuss the difficulties in effectively preventing and suppressing migrant smuggling
Next: Key issues
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