Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Governance and Human Security

First Advisor

Rita Kiki Edozie

Second Advisor

Jeffrey D. Pugh

Third Advisor

Dolly Daftary


The present dissertation examines the influence of states and non-state actors on migration governance in Niger from 2015-2020 and how these actors affect migrants ‘decisions to travel clandestinely to Europe. This investigation relies on documents and reports, semi-structured interviews with elites working at key migration governance institutions and focus groups in Niamey and Agadez (Niger) conducted in 2021 and 2022.

Using a structure-agency approach in migration research, this study applied an actor-led Multi-level Governance theory, Norm Localization theory and critical agency theory lenses. Content and critical discourse analyses were conducted using MaxQDA software to scrutinize the data. The results showed that (1) while migration governance authority is centered at the national level, network, and supranational actors exercise greater influence in decision making processes. The outcome of this synergy is an ongoing decentralization process where migration governance authority is being delegated at sub-national levels; (2) The localization of the EU’s African migration governance norms in Niger – that explains the significance of non-state actors – emanates from several conditions. Localization emanates from actors’ compliance to the EU’s border management goals, from the imperative to address human trafficking and smuggling and a resistance to the systematic criminalization of smugglers, and from the framing of all African migrations as clandestine migration to Europe, and from migration as an impediment to development; (3) Though African informal migrants decisions to leave are based on socio-economic factors, the choice of using unofficial pathways is influenced by their experiences with local enforcement actors. When in transit, these contribute to their decisions to persist on the journey.

These findings suggest that non-state actors are shaping migration governance in Niger through the roles they play in decision-making, and that the localization process enabling this development is being deepened at the sub-national levels. Despite these transitions, high-level migration governance processes remain disconnected from lower levels realities where migrants face human rights violations due to problems related to enforcement.


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