Worldwide displacement at all time high of 60 million people

Wars, conflict and persecution have forced more people than at any other time since records began to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere, according to a new report from UNHCR.

UNHCR’s annual Global Trends Report: World at War, released on June 18 2015, said that worldwide displacement was at the highest level ever recorded. It said the number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 had risen to a staggering 59.5 million compared to 51.2 million a year earlier and 37.5 million a decade ago.

The increase represents the biggest leap ever seen in a single year. Moreover, the report said the situation was likely to worsen still further.

Read more here

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Publication: High Time for a Fair Israeli Asylum Regime

Publication by a member of the Interest Group: Dr. Reuben (Ruvi) Ziegler

20th June marks World Refugee Day, proclaimed by UN General Assembly Resolution 55/76 of 4 December 2000 to commemorate the convening of the Convention of Plenipotentiaries that has led to the adoption of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Last year, UNHCR reported that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide has, for the first time in the post Second World era, exceeded 50 million people. According to figures published on 18 June 2015, the number is now 59.5 Million.

The massive increase in recent tears was driven mainly by the conflict in Syria: more than half of the state’s population has been internally or externally displaced. Outside Syria, the lion’s share of refugees reside in Syria’s neighbouring states (save Israel), hosting between then close to 4 million refugees (1.8 million in Turkey, 1.2 million in Lebanon, 600,000 in Jordan, 250,000 in Iraq). Indeed, 86 per cent of refugees globally reside in the developing world. Recently, the plight of refugees has received greater attention as a result of the harrowing scenes of persons (primarily Syrians, Eritreans, and Somalis) drowning in the Mediterranean, and of the Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar. The EU’s initial response to the crisis on its shores has been harshly critiqued (e.g. by Costello and Giuffre);  a European Commission proposal for setting a refugee resettlement quota for each EU member state faces considerable political resistance.

Against this background, it is worthwhile shedding light of the dire state of the Israeli asylum system and the predicament that ensues for asylum seekers. I have previously discussed this topic in this form (see e.g. Detention of Asylum Seekers in Israel: Welcome to Round Three and links provided there) and have offered comprehensive analysis thereof in a recently published article (2015) 29(2) Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law 172). Continue reading

Posted in Publications | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Call for Papers on Europe’s Burden sharing

UCD Sutherland School of Law welcomes paper proposals for its eighteenth Irish European Law Forum, addressing the topic of “Europe’s Shared Burden: Collective Responsibility for Migrants at Sea”, to be held on 9th and 10th October 2015 at University College Dublin. The workshop aims to foster a strong interdisciplinary focus in order to better understand and critically engage with the concept of collective responsibility in the context of irregular maritime migration.

In this respect, contributions from law, politics, philosophy, as well as other cognate social and human science disciplines are encouraged.  Keynote addresses are to be delivered byboth Peter Sutherland, UN Special Representative for International Migration and Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, Professor of International Refugee Law, University of Oxford (TBC).

More information can be found here

Posted in Events | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Event in Brussels on Dublin

The Greens in de European Parliament organize a public conference with the subject ‘Beyond Dublin: Rethinking Europe’s Asylum System’. The event will be held on 3 June 2015 from 15-18.30 in Brussels. It is organized by the MEPs Bodil Ceballos, Ska Keller, Jean Lambert, Judith Sargentini, and Josep-Maria Terricabras.

For more more information about the event and the speakers, click here

Posted in Events | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Human costs of border control

On 12 May 2015, researchers of VU University Amsterdam release a border death database, based on official death records of migrants who died at the Southern European borders in the years 1990-2013. They suggest that European states continue to collect such data supervised by a new European Migrant Death Observatory which is should be part of the Council of Europe.

This European Migrant Death Observatory can achieve two aims:
1. Adapt European migration policies so less people die at the border
2. Identify more people

The database contains individualized information on 3.188 people who died while attempting to reach southern EU countries from the Balkans, the Middle East, and North & West Africa, and whose bodies were found in or brought to Europe. It is unique because it includes – where known – date and place of death, cause of death, gender, age, country of origin, and whether or not the person was identified. Over the past year, 13 researchers visited 563 local civil registries in Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta and Gibraltar and collected information from death certificates. “This database underlines decades of indifference of European states. They had this information all the time, but failed to collect it”, says Thomas Spijkerboer.

More information can be found here.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Training Seminar on Dublin III

The European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation is organising a training on ‘Dublin III, two years on: refugees and asylum seekers in the EU and beyond’. The training will be held 19-21 June in Venice, Italy.

Two years into the endorsement of the “Dublin III regulation”, international protection provided by the EU to the increasing number of asylum seekers fleeing their countries is being challenged. Efficacy of these norms and policies is under scrutiny, as well as the complex relationship between the EU and its member states when it comes to concrete implementation. Is Dublin III – and more broadly the common European asylum system – meeting human rights concerns emerging from the migration crisis and the many recent humanitarian disasters? What are the dilemmas faced by European lawyers and legal practitioners when it comes to everyday application of EU and international legal standards on asylum?

The training seminar on “Dublin III, two years on. Asylum seekers and refugees in the EU and beyond” is set to analyze these important questions. It is designed to provide participants with an overview of the European asylum system and foster cross-border cooperation and networking among legal practitioners from all EU and non-EU countries involved in the application of the relevant national, EU and international standards.

More information can be found here

Posted in Events | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog symposium by the IG on EJIL:Talk!

It is with great pleasure that the ESIL Interest Group on Migration and Refugee Law, in close cooperation with EJIL:Talk!, launches its first blog symposium, which will run on EJIL:Talk! this week. The blog symposium focuses on the idea that, despite the normalcy of migration, states have come to treat it more and more as an abnormality in recent times. Many policies bear testimony to this development; one need only think of increasing restrictions on family reunification, measures of migration-related detention, and the introduction of civic integration tests. At the same time, countries crucially depend on migration, either upon the (un)skilled workforce it delivers, or upon the revenue it creates. Policies introduced therefore aim to limit and shape migration, so that only ‘the wanted’ embark on the journey. The person of the migrant is the object of such limiting, discouraging and selective policies.

Three members of the interest group took on this overarching topic in their contributions to the blog symposium, each in their own way. Juan Amaya-Castro kicks off the blog symposium. He argues that international migration law is “about selecting among potential or prospective migrants” and that it therefore provides a “license to discriminate” on the basis of economic worth. In the next post, Nikolaos Sitaropoulos counters this argument by saying that it “confuses differential with discriminatory treatment”. With reference to the case law of the Strasbourg Court, he shows that human rights provide a “protective layer” against discriminatory treatment. Concluding the blog symposium is Francesca Pizzutelli, who takes the potential for protection even further. She discusses “three types of limitations on state sovereignty with respect to migration”.

The blogs can be found here in the course of this week. 

Posted in Blogs | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

(Ab)normality of international migration law: normative and structural asymmetries and contradictions

Blogpost by a member of our Interest Group
by Tamás Molnár

International migration law (hereinafter: IML) is a multi-layered body of law. It is composed of an ever-growing number of norms relating to various branches of international law such as human rights law, international refugee law, international labour law, international trade law, law of the sea, nationality law, diplomatic and consular protection, and international humanitarian law. Despite this rich normative content, these norms and principles do not constitute a logically structured, coherent and integrated system. That is why some refer to IML as “substance without architecture” (A.T. Aleinkoff, ‘International Legal Norms on Migration: Substance without Architecture’ in R. Cholewinski – R. Perruchoud – E. MacDonald (eds.), International Migration Law. Developing paradigms and Key Challenges, The Hague, T.M.C. Asser Press, 2007, 467-480) or describe it as a “giant unassembled juridical jigsaw puzzle, [in which] the number of pieces is still uncertain and the grand design is still emerging” (R. Lillich, The Human Rights of Aliens in Contemporary International Law, Manchester, MUP, 1984, 122). It is thus not surprising that there exists no worldwide codification regulating all legal aspects of migration. The only universal instrument is UNGA Declaration No 40/144 of 1985 on the human rights of individuals who are not nationals of the country in which they live, but this is a non-binding soft law instrument. Neither does the definition of the term ”migrant” exist under general international law.

Against this backdrop, this blog entry endeavours to give the readers a comprehensive insight into the most striking normative as well as structural asymmetries and contradictions in IML. Continue reading

Posted in Blogs | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Call for applications: fellowship on the topic of Migration and Cross-Mediterranean Relations

The Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs (London, UK) is inviting research proposals on the topic of ‘Migration and Cross-Mediterranean Relations’ which is open to citizens from Greece and hosted by Chatham House’s Europe Programme and International Law Programme. The call is for one of our forthcoming fellowships for the 2015-16 year. The application window for the fellowships is open until 31 May 2015.

Emerging and experienced leaders will spend between six and 12 months in London as Academy fellows or senior fellows respectively. Beginning in September 2015 and February 2016, the current fellowships are open to citizens from Greece,  Turkey, and a number of countries within the Middle East (further fellowships will be available later in the year from other regions).

More information on the fellowship and the Academy can be found here

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Commentary on priorities EU migration agenda

The Centre for European Policy Studies has issued a commentary on the priorities for the new European agenda on migration. The authors of the commentary argue that the EU shold focus on two sets of thematic priorities: first, to develop rule of law-driven actions towards more effective sharing and uptake of responsibility by member states in rescuing people at sea and providing access to asylum. Second, to devise legal and flexible mechanisms ensuring access to Europe for would-be immigrants.

On burden-sharing, the commentary notes that it “is limited in almost every respect, but particularly in terms of rescue operations at sea. The 2014 Italian-led operation Mare Nostrum was mainly financed from national coffers. It was considered too expensive, but the overall cost was estimated at €8-9 million per month or about €100 million (not billion) per annum. This is less than 1/1000th of the EU budget and less than 1/10,000th of Italian GDP. The sums involved were thus clearly negligible, but given that they are not shared, they have played an outsized role in the political discussions.”

Read the commentary here

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment