PROTECT Preprints and Working Papers

Editor: Pierre-Georges Van Wolleghem


1. Theoretical and conceptual approaches

Conceptualizing the Right to International Protection: A Cleavage Theory Approach
A Comparative Research Framework for Studying the Global Refugee Compact’s Impact on International Protection
Devising the Policy Tools of a Human Rights-Based International Protection System

2. Global governance of international protection

Mapping the external dimension on EU migration and asylum policies: what impact on the governance of asylum?
Case study reports on selected CSOs’ attitudes and activities
From cleavages to facts on the ground: A conceptualisation of the work of civil society organisations on matters of refugee and migration policy
The role of the quality of the administration in asylum decision making:
Comparing recognition rates in EU member states
Draft analysis of how networks of international, national and local actors collaborate to reduce vulnerabilities on Six Sites in Europe, Canada, and South Africa
How key actors and stakeholders apply the notion of vulnerability in Europe, Canada, and South Africa
The Right to International Protection. Institutional Architectures of Political Asylum in Europe (1970-2000)
A Practitioners’ Handbook on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and EU and Member States’ Commitments under the UN Global Compact on Refugees and the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
The UN Global Compacts and the Common European Asylum System: Coherence or Friction?
Implementing the UN Global Compacts for Refugees and Migrants in Times of Pandemic: A View from the EU Member States
Civil Society Organisations’ attitude and activity analysis

3. Recognition of the right to international protection

A content and frame analysis of the social media discourse on refugees and migrants, in the context of the United Nations and the European Union, 2015-2019
Do Policy Actors Influence Political Communication on Refugee Protection in Social Media? A Comparison of the UNHCR and the EU on Twitter
Between Europeanism and Nativism: Exploring a Cleavage Model of European Public Sphere on Social Media

Journal articles


Vulnerability came to be a cardinal term for the humanitarian politics of life. On the one hand, it is naturalised as a shared condition and, at the same time, as it is linked to the recognition of specific needs, it becomes a condition for accessing certain rights. As a concept vulnerability tries to conjugate a theoretical aporia: all human beings are vulnerable, but certain subjects or groups are more so. This dilemma becomes particularly relevant in the field of international protection, where obtaining the label of vulnerable constitutes a crucial stake in accessing the right to stay. Through fieldwork research in eastern Sicily, the article moves from the recognition of certain discontinuities in this field. On the one hand, the margins for declaring vulnerable all actors involved in the field of reception, including so-called natives, have been extended. On the other hand, the possibilities have been reduced, through an attempt to improve the efficiency and quality of assessment procedures, which should include a transcultural sensitivity. The article, therefore, engages in an analysis of vulnerability policies within contemporary asylum governance, considering both those deployed by public service providers and by migrants themselves. Showing that the institutional allocation of the status of “vulnerable” is the result of complex and ambivalent practices, involving different actors, logics and discourses, the article explores the institutional will to both relativise and absolutise its work. Also illuminating the dimensions of political economy and structural vulnerability, the text attempts to articulate three levels that are implicated in the use of the category of vulnerability in immigration policies. The article concludes by offering some considerations regarding the controversial opportunity to continue to involve anthropology within this field of study.

By Giovanna Cavatorta – University of Catania

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This paper examines the “protective potential” of the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migrants vis à vis existing commitments to fundamental rights within the European Union (EU). The relationship between the two normative frameworks is scrutinised to establish the extent to which the two might be mutually supportive or contradictory, since this determines the Compacts’ capacity to inform the interpretation of EU fundamental rights within the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). This paper explores this protective potential through three of the Compacts’ key guiding principles: respect for human rights and the rule of law, the principle of non-regression, and the principle of non-discrimination. The Compacts’ commitments to the first two are presented as sites of coherence where the Compacts concretely express pre-existing protections within EU law and provide a blueprint for implementation in the migration sphere. However, the Compacts’ principle of non-discrimination reveals an area of friction with EU primary law. It is argued that the implementation of this principle can address the inherently discriminatory system underpinning EU law. Within the EU, rather than undermining international and national human rights obligations, the Compacts present an opportunity to refine the implementation of existing EU fundamental rights obligations applicable to migrants and refugees.

By Elspeth Guild, Kathryn Allinson and Nicolette Busuttil – Queen Mary University of London

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Local integration has long been seen as the “forgotten” durable solution to refugee displacement evidenced by the reluctance of governments across the world to accord refugees a new citizenship. This article goes further. It argues that local integration as a durable solution has not been merely forgotten, but deliberately avoided at a national, regional and international level. As a result, its veracity as a realistic durable solution for the majority of refugees is now in question.

By Nicholas Maple, African Centre for Migration & Society – University of Witwatersrand

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The European Union’s common public sphere project dates back to the 1960s and relies on Europeanisation through the gradual eradication of communication boundaries between its member countries. However, it is evident by now that Europeanisation of national public spheres is hard to achieve by increasing overlaps between national public spheres, synchronisation of news reporting across national boundaries, or diffusion of Europeanist norms into national politics. The European Union’s common public sphere project may hence be in danger. This calls for explorations of other imaginable models of the public sphere for Europe. Are there traces of other modes of transnational public sphere emerging in Europe? In this article, we explore a models of the transnational public sphere which is based on an alternative concept of Europeanisation derived from the cleavage theory. By drawing on social media data and employing tools of social network analysis, we demonstrate the empirical possibility of a cleavage model of the European public sphere.

By Hakan G. Sicakkan, University of Bergen and Raphael H. Heiberger, University of Stuttgart

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This article explores how temporal disruptions at international borders shape immobile bodies’ experiences and modes of waiting by focusing on irregular Zimbabwean migrant men at the Zimbabwe-South Africa border who have arrived in South Africa but are restricted in moving further into the interior. It argues that waiting is a component of both governing these migrants as well as them seeking agency through the relationship between time, space and humanitarianism in this border regime. This shows how immobilities at ‘carceral junctions’ can be conceptualised as in time as much as in space. The article is based upon four months of ethnographic field research at the ‘I Believe in Jesus Church’ men’s shelter in the border town of Musina. The intersections of immobility and temporal agency in this article contribute to a growing body of work that shows that the relationship between resistance and domination in waiting is ambivalent. This article also troubles assumptions about immobility as an experience that leads the inhabitants of humanitarian camps as well as carceral time-spaces to realise the status of ‘bare life’. While imposed forces make assumptions about the future precarious, the precariousness of the future also creates multiple and new possibilities.

By Kudakwashe Vanyoro, African Centre for Migration & Society – University of Witwatersrand

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Situated on the EU’s Mediterranean borders, Italy provides the setting for a case study aimed at understanding Mediterranean migration governance in the 2010s. We adopt an actor-centred approach to explore how the Italian coast guard’s humanitarian agency was constrained and reshaped in a changed environment. We draw upon the sense-making of Italy’s political leaders and its impact on the humanitarian practices of the Italian coast guard. Migration politics is marked by political discourses framing interests and priorities according to the sense-making of the political leadership. In the last decade, Italian political leaders have constructed and reconstructed discourses on migration, providing a different understanding of the technical capacity to respond to crisis situations. In a few years, the Mare Nostrum operation was dismantled and replaced by a restrictive ‘closed-ports’ strategy to guarantee border control. Humanitarian operations at sea, a pillar of migration governance in the mid-2010s, were de facto constrained. Focusing on the pivotal role of the Italian coast guard in conducting maritime operations, we explain why its role of vanguard in developing humanitarian practices was marginalized over time.

By Stefania Panebianco, the University of Catania

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In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, the EU discourse on migration has acquired a humanitarian dimension that deserves investigation. The European Commission in particular has provided a discursive conceptualisation of the European human and humane approach to migration, promoting a change in the EU migration frame. Qualitative discourse analysis suggests that the European Commission’s programmatic discourse is not just a coordinative discourse among policy actors, it rather aims to shape the preferences of EU policy-makers emphasising strategic ideas and principles enshrined in EU Treaties. The Covid-19 crisis could thus be a window of opportunity for the European Union to embark on a new migration governance framed within a humane approach.

By Stefania Panebianco, the University of Catania

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Chapters in books


Implementing the UN Global Compacts for Refugees and Migrants in Times of Pandemic: A View from the EUMS – by Elspeth Guild, Kathryn Allinson and Nicolette Busuttil

Intersentia, 2021.

COVID-19 and the wide range of emergency measures that governments and policy makers have introduced in the name of fighting the pandemic have shaped our lives over the past year and a half. The thirteenth edition of the European Yearbook on Human Rights takes the opportunity to reflect on the impact that COVID-19 has had on human rights and to assess the proportionality and necessity of state responses to the pandemic in order to ensure a resilient human rights system in the future.

> Access the book here