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PROTECT The Right to International Protection. A Pendulum between Globalization and Nativization? is an EU-funded research project launched on 1 February 2020. We study the impacts of the UN's Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration, which are two non-binding frameworks promoting international cooperation and responsibility-sharing as key solutions to handle global refugee flows. By studying how the Compacts are received and implemented in different countries, and how they interact with existing legal frameworks and governance architectures, we investigate the Compacts' impact on refugees' right to international protection.

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Our research

PROTECT consists of 11 Work Packages, which are the building blocks of the project. Each Work Package investigates the impact of the Global Compacts in different ways - such as how they affect citizens' and civil societies’ recognition of the right to international protection, how they interact with existing institutional architectures of asylum determination and legal frameworks such as the 1951 Convention, and how they impact the public discourses on refuge and migration circulating in the media and on social media.

In this video from our Kick-off Conference in Brussels, you can get a short introduction to our research objectives.

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PROTECT consists of 11 partner universities in Europe, South Africa, and Canada. We are political scientists, legal scholars, and anthropologists. We have expertise in political theory, legal theory, cleavage theory, public sphere theory, multilevel global governance, and ethnography. In our partner presentation series, you can read more - and watch video presentations - about our researchers, their research interests and role in the project.

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What are we up to?

The UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention and the EU’s Common European Asylum Policy lack instruments to facilitate inter-state collaboration during refugee crises. Neither specifies how state policies and governance should be devised to achieve this goal despite the diversity of state policies being a major reason for the decay of international refugee protection.

What we discovered

PROTECT recommends several actions to build a human rights-based refugee protection system, including separating laws for refugee and asylum policy from migration and border policy, introducing humanitarian visas and corridors, providing legal counsel, raising awareness among authorities, and having autonomous, specialized bodies run asylum procedures.

Making International Protection Work

PROTECT’s findings have been focused on better understanding where the problems lie and what causes them, so politicians, activists, businesses, journalists, and the public can all take ideas from them to help make international protection work, now and in the future. Read more about our findings here.

(Re)Watch our 2020 Expert Forums:

In November 2020, the PROTECT project organized three Expert Forums to take stock of the Global Compacts and discuss the current protection needs of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, Canada, and South Africa. The Forums brought together academics in the field of migration, refugee studies and law – in addition to representatives from international organizations (IOM, UNHCR etc.) and civil society (ECRE, Lawyers for Human Rights etc.).

Watch talks and discussions below:

(Re)Watch our 2021 Expert Forums:

Between September and October 2021, our partners from the German Giessen, South African Wits and Canadian Ryerson-teams have organized and held three Expert Forums. All of which sought to explore the legal potential and impacts of the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration, especially focusing on current protection challenges in these three regions of the world.

All videos have been made available via the following playlists:

(Re)Watch our Midterm Conference:

PROTECT has conducted a number of key activities in 2021, most notably the Midterm Conference, which was held virtually at Ryerson University, Toronto, on 26-27 August 2021. On day one, our researchers presented initial research findings from our 11 Work Packages, while day two was dedicated to two plenary panels; a Policy Forum and an Academic Forum. The conference also featured a keynote address by Professor James C. Hathaway.

All videos, included pre-recorded presentations can be found below and on our YouTube channel:

(Re)Watch our Final Conference:

In March 2023 PROTECT had its third and final conference in Brussels. Throughout three days, forty speakers composed of researchers, policy makers and key actors in the migration field contributed with keynotes and roundtables to a discussion on findings of the PROTECT project and their impacts.

The full program with relevant resources may be found here. Video recordings from the conference may be viewed on our Youtube channel:

Previous and upcoming events

Under “All events”, you can gain information on all our previous and upcoming events, either organized by the PROTECT Consortium or with the participation of one or more of our researchers. See for example the Policy Roundtable on Co-designing an inclusive Europe, with the participation of ten H2020 projects, which looked at “Migrations and migrants in the EU: changing narratives – modifying practices – influencing policies” or our latest webinar on the “Temporary Protection for People Fleeing the War in Ukraine. Challenges Ahead and the Way Forward for a Common EU Response”, which was jointly organized by the ASILE-VULNER-PROTECT Project Coordinators.

On our YouTube channel, you can watch video presentations of our research objectives by our Work Package leaders and stay updated on our latest video blogs, presentations, and comments on current issues, as well as get to know our researchers. You can also access videos from PROTECT events such as our kick-off conference in Brussels in 2020. Below is a selection of some of the videos featuring PROTECT researchers. Go to our YouTube channel to browse our playlists.

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Stay updated on our activities, publications and events by signing up for our quarterly newsletter.

Explore our researchers’ media appearances in news articles and podcasts in national and international media outlets

PROTECT is led by Professor Hakan G. Sicakkan from the University of Bergen, Norway. Contact the Coordination and Management team here.

Migration, refugee governance and asylum issues are frequent topics on the global agenda. PROTECT issues press releases commenting on issues on the global agenda.

Where are we?

Our partner universities

The PROTECT researchers are based at 12 universities in 7 countries in Europe, and South Africa, and Canada. Click on the pins in the map below to see where in the world our researchers work from.

> Read more about our partners here

Our fieldwork sites

Our field researchers conduct ethnographic fieldwork in six migratory hotspots in Spain, France, Greece, Italy, South Africa, and Canada. On the map below, you can navigate our field sites and see the leading researchers.

> Read more about our fieldwork here