Asma Atique ~ The Story of Masdar: ‘Sustainable Development’ for Migrant Justice?

(2022) 3 TWAIL Review 68-91 
ISSN 2563-6693
Published under a Creative Commons licence

This article explores whether the doctrine and rhetoric of sustainable development (SD) are compatible with robust notions of migrant justice, through a focus on Masdar City, an eco-smart city in oil-rich Abu Dhabi. After discussing what migrant justice entails and the potential link between SD and migrant workers’ concerns, I examine how SD is practiced in Masdar City. Drawing on Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL), I study the example of Masdar to understand the process of how SD gets coopted because of SD’s conceptual evolution which consistently places economic concerns over social and environmental aspects. Ultimately, my study of Masdar City shows the eco-modernist logic and unidimensional view of economic-centered growth that is embedded in the concept of SD, watering down its social content and undermining its compatibility with migrant justice.