The Antics of Semantics in International Law


  • Marika McAdam



Response to the ATR Debate Proposition: ‘It is important and necessary to make clear distinctions between (irregular) migrants, refugees and trafficked persons.’

Whether a person is given a loaded label like ‘irregular’ migrant, refugee or trafficked person, can make the difference between arrest and protection, or between deportation and asylum, or between return to an uncertain fate and assistance for a decent life. In short, the distinctions we make in the language of international law may mean the difference between life and death.


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Author Biography

Marika McAdam

Marika McAdam is an independent legal consultant, scholar and adviser who has worked with UNODC, IOM, OHCHR, Chatham House, and the Nexus Institute, among others. She has delivered training to law enforcers and prosecutors; advised barristers, senators and legislators; and researched the challenges of implementing international law in national practice in Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the South Caucasus. Marika has written book chapters and journal articles about migrant smuggling, human trafficking, migration and human rights, and their intersections, and has recently published a book titled Freedom from Religion and Human Rights Law (Routledge, 2017).




How to Cite

McAdam, M. (2018). The Antics of Semantics in International Law. Anti-Trafficking Review, (11).